Scottish Daily Mail

Police chief admits 108 corruption unit claims

Trust in Scottish force now ‘brittle’

- By Graham Grant Home Affairs Editor

A CONTROVERS­IAL police unit is at the centre of a criminal investigat­ion after being bombarded by more than 100 allegation­s.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley revealed yesterday that the Police Scotland Counter-Corruption Unit (CCU) has faced 108 claims of wrong-doing in the past seven years.

The unit has already been found to have broken privacy regulation­s by spying on journalist­s’ sources, sparking a political row and an investigat­ion by an English force.

The most recent complaint now being investigat­ed involves a criminal allegation that an officer attempted to pervert the course of justice.

Yesterday Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur said the anti-corruption unit had been ‘in the eye of the storm’ already over the spying row. He added: ‘Reports like this can only undermine the good work of police officers across Scotland. It looks like some officers within this unit thought that the rules did not apply to them – independen­t scrutiny is required to ensure that we get the answers we need.’

Scottish Tory justice spokesman Douglas Ross said: ‘These are extremely concerning developmen­ts in a story that has already raised difficult questions for Police Scotland.

‘People will find it particular­ly troubling that the unit tasked with cracking down on corruption is facing allegation­s of this kind.

‘Trust in the single force among the public is brittle, thanks to a range of negative stories over the last couple of years, and these further reports will do nothing to help that.’

While the alleged attempt by an officer to pervert the course of justice is still the subject of investigat­ion, Mr Gormley said all the other complaints had resulted either in no action being taken or officers being given ‘corrective advice’.

He had been asked by Scottish Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell, convener of Holyrood’s justice committee, to detail criminal complaints made against members of the CCU in carrying out their duties.

She wrote to him seeking ‘further clarificat­ion’, including what crimes or offences had been alleged and how many claims of misconduct had been made between April 1, 2009 and June 30 this year.

In response, Mr Gormley told her: ‘For completene­ss, the total number of complaints within this time period is 25 and the total number of allegation­s [contained within those complaints] is 108.’

The Scottish Police Authority ordered a review after it was revealed last year that guidelines on accessing data without proper consent had been breached when the CCU tried to discover more details about a journalist’s sources in relation to a newspaper story about the murder of prostitute Emma Caldwell.

Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson, who has since retired, told MSPs in December that attempts were made to find out journalist­s’ sources because publicatio­n of the informatio­n could have hindered a ‘live murder inquiry’. Mr Gormley has since denied that the murder inquiry was under way at the time.

When asked yesterday if Justice Secretary Michael Matheson still had confidence in the leadership of Police Scotland following yesterday’s disclosure­s, a Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Yes. Police Scotland continues to perform well, with figures published this week showing crime at a 42-year low and clear-up rates at a 40-year high.’

‘Underminin­g good work of officers’

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