MSPs to quiz Justice Secretary on police chief's special leave

Ceria Alfonso
Enero 13, 2018

He added that the independent Police and Investigations Review Commissioner, who is now investigating Mr Gormley, had also not been consulted.

David Morgan also said that while Gormley had "maintained a dignified public silence" since the allegations were made, his client had "very serious concerns over the significant delays and proportionality of the investigation being undertaken by the PIRC [the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner]".

Without knowing the detail of that, we can't judge whether or not he should be on leave - whether or not he should be allowed to continue as chief constable. It said there was "no lawful basis for the Scottish government's intervention or interference with the lawful decision of the SPA".

Mr Matheson told MSPs that when he was told about this the following day, he had "sought assurances" from then-SPA chairman Andrew Flanagan that they had "followed due process" in the decision.

Kenny MacAskill, who served as Justice Secretary from 2007 to 2014, said Mr Gormley should be allowed to leave his post even if this meant buying out the remainder of his contract.

Both the Conservatives and Labour called for Mr Matheson to appear before MSPs to explain the situation, something which is now scheduled to happen on Wednesday.

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He revealed that he only discovered on 9 November that the SPA had decided at a "private meeting" two days earlier to allow Mr Gormley to return to duty.

Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell, who is convener of Holyrood's justice committee, said Mr Matheson's position would be "untenable" if he had intervened.

However, on 8 November Mr Gormley received an email from then-SPA chief executive John Foley - since - which said his "return to full duties has the unanimous backing of the board".

Michael Matheson is also facing questions over his own position, with Holyrood's opposition parties accusing him of interfering by preventing the Chief Constable from coming back.

The chief constable's lawyers have warned he could go to court to have the decision judicially reviewed but Mr Matheson insisted that the SPA remains accountable to him for the way it carries out its functions.

Pirc boss Kate Frame has since that she was not consulted by the SPA over the decision, but said Mr Gormley's return at this point would not prejudice her ongoing inquiry.

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