First chief con­sta­ble ousted in se­cret SNP plot, says Ma­cAskill

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Gra­ham Grant Home Af­fairs Edi­tor

THE first boss of Scot­land’s sin­gle po­lice force was ousted in a se­cret plot by the Scot­tish Govern­ment, for­mer Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Kenny Ma­cAskill has claimed.

Mr Ma­cAskill sug­gested that Sir Stephen House was re­moved in a bid to stop neg­a­tive cov­er­age of Po­lice Scot­land’s chaotic early days.

In April 2015, Ni­cola Stur­geon told of­fi­cers at their an­nual con­fer­ence that no chief con­sta­ble should be a ‘law unto them­selves’, seen as a thinly veiled at­tack on Sir Stephen, who quit four months later.

It came af­ter he was crit­i­cised for is­su­ing a se­cre­tive or­der al­low­ing of­fi­cers to carry out rou­tine du­ties wear­ing hand­guns.

In Au­gust 2015, Sir Stephen an­nounced he would quit in the wake of the M9 tragedy, when a woman was left dy­ing by the road­side for three days fol­low­ing call-han­dling blun­ders.

A Scot­tish Tory spokesman said: ‘It is a bit rich for the man who was the main ar­chi­tect of Po­lice Scot­land to at­tempt to de­flect blame for the mess he helped to make.

‘It shows just how chaotic the SNP has been on polic­ing when it fought so hard to re­move a chief con­sta­ble of a force it cre­ated.’

Com­ment­ing on Sir Stephen’s de­par­ture, Mr Ma­cAskill said: ‘Whilst their fin­ger­prints may not be upon him, it’s clear that there was a will to have him go at the very top of govern­ment.

‘Per­haps it was as­sumed that re­mov­ing him would bring an end to neg­a­tive head­lines. There may have been some ba­sis in that as crit­i­cism was highly per­son­alised.’

He said Sir Stephen’s ac­tions on armed of­fi­cers ‘saw op­po­si­tion politi­cians… be­hind them be­rate him’.

Mr Ma­cAskill added: ‘How­ever, as with the best-laid plans, mat­ters have gone awry with his suc­ces­sor’s dif­fi­cul­ties.’

The for­mer min­is­ter’s com­ments come af­ter Sir Stephen’s suc­ces­sor, Phil Gorm­ley, stepped aside from the chief’s job last week amid

‘Shows how chaotic SNP has been’

bul­ly­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions, leav­ing his deputy Iain Liv­ing­stone in charge.

Writ­ing in The Her­ald yes­ter­day, Mr Ma­cAskill said: ‘In many ways, Mr Gorm­ley was the accidental chief con­sta­ble.

‘It ap­peared that, for the new regime at the Scot­tish Po­lice Author­ity (SPA), it was as sim­ple as your ABCs – Any­one But a Chief from Scot­land. The me­dia frenzy about mis­takes and tragedies re­sulted in a re­cruit be­ing sought from out­side.’

Mr Ma­cAskill said that ‘ac­cord­ingly, heir ap­par­ent Iain Liv­ing­stone and, iron­i­cally, the present act­ing chief in Mr Gorm­ley’s ab­sence, was passed over’.

He added: ‘It’s sug­gested that the Govern­ment favoured his ap­point­ment but it most cer­tainly didn’t seek it as hard as it sought his for­mer boss’s re­moval.’

Sir Stephen was un­avail­able for com­ment.

A Scot­tish Govern­ment spokesman said: ‘Po­lice Scot­land and the chief con­sta­ble are ac­count­able to the SPA rather than min­is­ters.’

Mean­while, Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Michael Mathe­son made a par­lia­men­tary state­ment yes­ter­day to re­spond to claims of a grow­ing po­lice lead­er­ship cri­sis.

Mr Mathe­son said Mr Liv­ing­stone, now run­ning the force, is a ‘very able and ex­pe­ri­enced of­fi­cer, who com­mands the re­spect of that work­force’.

Po­lice claims: Ma­cAskill

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