Scotland’s Justice Minister slammed over police bully probe secrecy shambles
Opposition politicians last night blasted Justice Secretary Michael Matheson for failing to ensure minutes were taken of the talks in November. His discussions with Andrew Flanagan, then head of the Scottish Police Authority, led to the SPA reversing their decision to allow police chief Phil Gormley to return to duty. Lawyers for Gormley, who is being investigated over allegations of gross misconduct, claim Matheson acted unlawfully. But he insists he did not exceed his authority. The Justice Secretary said yesterday he would be “happy” for any record of the meeting – which was also attended by civil servants – to be made public.
No records of justice minister Michael Matheson’s key meeting on future of chief constable Phil Gormley
No minutes were taken during a crucial meeting attended by Scotland’s justice secretary to discuss the future of the country’s chief constable. The meeting between Michael Matheson and Andrew Flanagan, then head of the Scottish Police Authority, in November led to the SPA reversing its decision to allow Phil Gormley to return to duty. The chief constable has been on special leave since September while allegations of bullying are investigated. His lawyers claim Mr Matheson acted unlawfully by blocking the move. The justice secretary has denied instructing the SPA to reverse its decision. He insisted that he did not exceed his authority during the meeting with the SPA, which is operationally independent, and that his concerns were purely about the processes that were followed rather.
No minutes taken during crunch meeting on Scotland Chief Constable’s future
A crunch meeting between Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and Scotland’s under-fire police watchdog over the future of the Chief Constable was not recorded in formal minutes. The meeting is at the centre of powder keg claims that Mr Matheson used it to “unlawfully” block the return to work of sidelined Chief Constable Phil Gormley.
The Justice Secretary insists he used the talks with former Scottish Police Authority chairman Andrew Flanagan to raise questions over the “process” being proposed by the watchdog to clear the way for Gormley’s return. At that stage the police chief was still subject of a bullying inquiry from the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner. His proposed return to duty was dropped.
Assaults on Scotland‘s firefighters, police and ambulance service attain three-year excessive
Emergency services staff are attacked more than ever in Scotland The number of common assaults on police, fire and ambulance crew members has reached a three-year high, with 6,509 recorded on frontline personnel across Scotland in 2016/17. The true number is higher as this statistic does not include more serious assaults and attempted murders. The figures came out just hours after the head of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) took to social media following an attack on one of his crews, who had to be rushed to hospital. Chief Officer Alasdair Hay tweeted: “Scottish Firefighters attend inherently dangerous incidents every day to protect their communities. Last night one of our crews was attacked by youths throwing bottles, injuring a firefighter. Totally unacceptable.”
Former justice secretary: Police chief ‘must go’ even if he’s cleared
A former justice secretary has said Scotland’s top police officer “must go” even if he is cleared of gross misconduct allegations. Kenny MacAskill praised the controversial intervention of his successor, Michael Matheson, in the decision over whether Chief Constable Phil Gormley should return to active duty while under investigation for the allegations, which he denies. Mr Gormley, who went on special leave in September, received the unanimous backing of police watchdog the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) to return to work in November but remains on leave following Mr Matheson’s discussions with the SPA. Writing in the newspaper, Mr MacAskill said Mr Gormley cannot be allowed to “hang around” Police Scotland’s corporate headquarters at Tulliallan “like a bad smell”.
North Ayrshire SNP slam Labour and Tories over Police Scotland ‘attack’
A North Ayrshire SNP councillor said he’s ‘appalled’ after Labour and Conservative politicians combined to pass a motion ‘attacking’ Police Scotland.
Scott Davidson hit back at Tory member Margaret George after introducing a motion describing the service as being ‘in a state of chaos’. Councillor George’s motion asked that council instruct the chief executive Elma Murray to write to Scottish Government Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, expressing concern at ‘the lack of effective leadership’ in the force and saying the council believes the merger with British Transport Police should be put on hold. The motion was supported by Labour and Conservative councillors and, despite opposition from the SNP group and independent councillors, the motion was passed.
Michael Matheson hits back in Police Scotland row
JUSTICE Secretary Michael Matheson has said he could not back the return to duty of Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley because there were “clear deficiencies” in the process followed by the Scottish Police Authority when it gave the go-ahead. Matheson told MSPs that he informed the body that he could not have confidence in the decision when it had been made “without significant issues having been properly addressed”. Gormley has been on special leave since September while misconduct allegations against him are investigated. His lawyers, in a letter released by Holyrood’s Justice Committee, earlier this week, claimed Matheson had made an “unlawful” intervention.
Police Scotland and its actions are not apolitical
FOR kids growing up in Glasgow, the police motto – Semper Vigilo – probably feels like a banal fact of life. Day and daily, officers cross your path. CCTV cameras sprout from every lamppost. You don’t bat an eyelid at matchday battalions and hardly flinch at the urban soundscape of sirens. The police presence becomes everyday. Growing up down a long stretch of the B8024 in rural Argyll, by contrast, police constables were as elusive as pine martens. Unless black ice or excess alcohol ditched a stray car, or one of the local teens got into a scrape after a fifth bottle of Hooch, you would never see these mysterious specimens of humanity. There was no local copper operating out of a police box. The nearest station was a half hour’s drive away. In public, at least, the community was self-policing. Folk kept each other right.
Former justice secretary says chief constable ‘must go’
A former justice secretary has said Scotland’s top police officer “must go” even if he is cleared of gross misconduct allegations. Kenny MacAskill praised the intervention of his successor, Michael Matheson, in the decision over whether chief constable Phil Gormley should return to active duty while under investigation for the allegations, which he denies. Gormley, who went on special leave in September, received the unanimous backing of police watchdog the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) to return to work in November.
Merging British Transport Police with Police Scotland jeopardises fight against terrorism, House of Lords told
MERGING British Transport Police with Police Scotland would be an “act of vandalism” and would “jeopardise an effective fight against terrorism,” the House of Lords has heard. During a debate in the second chamber, Labour’s Lord Foulkes of Cumnock pointed to the “great and growing concern” to the proposed merger, which, he claimed, was the result of “party political dogma” by the SNP. He highlighted how HM Inspector of Constabulary said there was no business case for it, how two-thirds of BTP officers were unsure if they would transfer to Police Scotland, and that opposition MSPs on Holyrood’s Justice Committee opposed it as did opposition MSPs in the chamber when it came to a vote but, the peer noted, “with their friends the Greens, the SNP Government pushed it through”.