Scotland police chief Phil Gormley ‘told he would return’

Former Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
Former Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
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Former Chief Constable Phil Gormley was told a “bit more time” was needed to organise his return to work the day after an intervention by the justice secretary.

Correspondence obtained by The Scotsman shows the then Scottish Police Authority (SPA) chairman Andrew Flanagan e-mailed the chief constable on 10 November to remove any “dubiety” about his situation.

Mr Gormley resigned with immediate effect last month while subject of five separate investigations by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) into alleged gross misconduct.

Appearing before MSPs in January, Mr Flanagan said the SPA board had approved the senior officer’s return to work before being told it was a “bad decision” by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson on 9 November.

In a letter sent via e-mail to Mr Gormley dated 8 November, then SPA chief executive John Foley wrote: “Further to your discussions with the chair, I am writing to confirm that the board have considered your leave arrangements in light of your confirmation that you have completed your preparations in relation to the complaints referred to Pirc and that you are fit and available for work.

“The board has decided to, therefore, rescind your leave period and this letter is to provide the 14-day notice required under our agreement.

“However, we believe it would be beneficial if you return to duty as soon as practicable. I understand you have indicated to the chair a willingness to return on Friday November 10.”

The following day, Thursday 9 November, Mr Flanagan e-mailed Mr Gormley to tell him a communications plan would be created ahead of his return.

He added: “We will need to consider how we ensure your and the complainants’ interests are protected.”

A little over an hour later, Mr Gormley replied from his iPhone: “Agreed. Thank you.”

But the following day, after meeting Mr Matheson, Mr Flanagan e-mailed the chief constable again: “Further to our earlier discussions and letter, we need to take a bit more time to organise your return.

“So that there is no dubiety, the board has agreed to a further extension of your leave from the 3rd of November for a four-week period ending on December 1. We will keep you up to date as we make progress.”

Mr Gormley resigned on 7 February with ten months to run on his contract, saying it had become clear we could not resume his role in a “meaningful way”. The Pirc investigations into his conduct ceased at that point, with the chief constable continuing to reject the allegations against him.

Earlier this week, the new chair of the SPA, Susan Deacon, confirmed the next chief constable will not be in post until the end of the year, with the recruitment process expected to begin in the summer.