Scottish Police Authority chairman loses confidence of MSPs

A cross-party committee of MSPs has heaped pressure on the chairman of the Scottish Police Authority by saying it has 'no confidence' in his leadership.

Scottish Police Authority chairman, Andrew Flanagan. Picture: Michael Gillen

In a letter to Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, the justice sub-committee on policing criticised Andrew Flanagan for a decision to hold meetings in private and for his treatment of a board member who spoke out against the move.

The letter follows a similar intervention from Holyrood’s audit committee, which wrote to Mr Matheson expressing “very serious concerns” about the standard of governance at the SPA.

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Yesterday the SPA confirmed it would perform a U-turn on the issue of holding meetings in private, with all future committees to take place in public.

The committee letter said: “There will be many difficult decisions for the SPA board to take going forward. Openness, inclusiveness and transparency will strengthen the decision-making process and the accountability of the SPA.

“Given the evidence that it has heard, the sub-committee does not have confidence that the current chair is the best person to lead the board.”

Committee convener Mary Fee MSP said: “Mr Flanagan’s testimony to the sub-committee was frankly inadequate and we do not have confidence in his leadership.

“Though he was apologetic, we are not confident he accepts he was wrong.”

John Finnie, the Scottish Greens’ justice spokesman, asked Mr Flanagan to “seriously reflect on his position”.

During an appearance before the committee last week, Mr Flanagan offered an “unreserved personal apology” to Moi Ali, who has accused him of bullying and effectively forcing her out of the organisation after she spoke out against the decision to hold meetings in private. But Mr Flanagan refused to resign his position, believing he has “got more right than wrong” during his tenure.

In a statement released last night, he said: “As I indicated in my evidence to the committee, I have publicly acknowledged recent mistakes without caveat or qualification.

“I remain focussed on building a broad consensus around my continuing leadership of the SPA, and my contribution to a stable and collaborative leadership within policing.”

Ms Ali called on Mr Matheson to intervene and remove Mr Flanagan from his post.