Scottish Police Authority chair steps down following criticism

14 Jun 17

The chair of the supervisory body for Scotland’s national police force has stepped down, after two committees of MSPs declared a lack of confidence in his leadership of the Scottish Police Authority.

Pressure had been mounting on accountant Andrew Flanagan follow months of controversy over what critics saw as an excessively secretive and bullying governance regime at the SPA.  His departure followed a meeting this morning with justice secretary Michael Matheson.

Flanagan said he wanted to avoid becoming a distraction from the development of a new policing strategy following the 2013 merger of Scotland’s eight regional police forces into a single force, Police Scotland. But he also described the criticisms he had faced as “quite personalised” and said they had had placed a strain on his family which he wanted to bring to an end.

Matheson, in reply, said that Flanagan had made a significant contribution to policing in Scotland. “However, he has acknowledged that mistakes have been made. He has offered a full and very public apology and made clear changes to transparency and governance in light of the concerns raised.”

The SPA chair had faced criticism for holding board meetings in private and failing properly to circulate papers.  One prominent board member, communications consultant Moi Ali, resigned in protest over his conduct, prompting inquiries by both Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee and by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland, Derek Penman.

Flanagan’s successive appearances before MSPs served only to inflame the row. In a letter to Matheson, the justice sub-committee said: “The sub-committee does not have confidence that the current chair is the best person to lead the board” and the audit committee voiced similar views.

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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