Scottish Police Authority boss wanted Gormley back at work amid bullying claims

The former chairman of the Scottish Police Authority pushed for Police Scotland's chief constable to be re-instated while allegations of bullying are investigated, it has emerged.
Former SPA chairman Andrew Flanagan wanted to re-instate Phil GormleyFormer SPA chairman Andrew Flanagan wanted to re-instate Phil Gormley
Former SPA chairman Andrew Flanagan wanted to re-instate Phil Gormley

Mr Gormley is currently on leave – and continues to collect his £214,000 salary – while bullying complaints are investigated by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).

Under questioning from committee member Alex Neil MSP, the Scottish Government’s director-general for education, communities and justice, Paul Johnston, confirmed Mr Flanagan had asked whether the chief constable could return to work.

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Mr Neil said: “There’s a very strong rumour going around that Mr Flanagan wanted to reinstate the chief constable because the investigations found that the chief constable had done nothing wrong.”

Mr Johnston said he would not comment on rumours and that he believed the investigation is still ongoing.

He added: “There have been points at which (in recent weeks) that the view of the former chair was that it may have been suitable for the chief constable to return.”

He said the SPA board discussed this at a private board meeting and it was not on any agenda.

Mr Johnston said discussions the government had with the police authority had focused on ensuring due process had been followed.

He said Mr Gormley had not been reinstated “at least in part” due to the need for due process and, that having happened, the decision had been taken to continue the special leave.

Mr Neil said he found a lot of Mr Johnston’s evidence “not credible” and said he wanted to call Mr Gormley, Mr Flanagan and new SPA chairwoman Susan Deacon to a future committee meeting.

Earlier this month, Auditor General Caroline Gardner identified “unacceptable” governance failings and poor use of public money at the SPA.

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Her comments came as it emerged Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick was paid £67,000 by the SPA after transferring from the Metropolitan Police and also had a personal tax liability of £53,000 paid in 2016/17. Former chief executive John Foley, who left the SPA in November, received an early retirement payment of £43,470 and a further payment of £56,666 in lieu of notice.

The audit committee has now asked the SPA’s former bosses to appear to answer questions over its “shocking” financial management.

Acting convener Jackie Baillie said the decision to award “eye-watering” payments were “astonishing and shocking” as the authority has a forecast deficit of £47.2 million this financial year.