Calls for Matheson to answer on police ‘spying’ claims

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson is being urged to come clean with MSPs about how much the Scottish Government knew about the latest “spying” row to engulf Police Scotland.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Former officer Gerry Gallacher was reported to have been one of those targeted by Police Scotland after concerns were raised the force had failed to follow up information as they investigated the murder of prostitute Emma Caldwell.

Earlier this week, Sir Stanley Burton, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, concluded the force had contravened the Acquisition and Disclosure of Communications Data Code of Practice on five occasions.

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The Interception Of Communications Commissioner’s Office (IOCCO) conducted a review after fears were raised officers had been ‘’illegally spying on journalists’’.

Mr Gallacher, a former detective, will now raise the matter with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in a bid to find out more about the police operation.

“When it was suggested to me that the police had been intercepting my phone information I found it very hard to believe.

“Now that it has been confirmed, I still find it very hard to believe.”

Labour is now demanding the Justice Secretary makes a statement to the Scottish Parliament, setting out what he knew, while the Scottish Liberal Democrats want the issue to be raised in a debate at Holyrood this week.

Graeme Pearson, Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “Michael Matheson has said he knew nothing about this case but he has been SNP Justice Secretary for more than a year now, and has been invisible during the biggest crisis of confidence in Scottish policing in generations.

“This cannot be another policing scandal where he goes missing.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said Mr Matheson has updated the Scottish Parliament on policing matters twice since September.