Scottish Daily Mail

The lapdog watchdog

Former member of SPA says board is ‘too close to government’

- Deputy Scottish Political Editor By Rachel Watson

POLICE watchdog chiefs were ‘too close’ to SNP ministers and ‘too eager to please them’, a former board member has said.

Moi Ali yesterday hit out at her former Scottish Police Authority (SPA) colleagues, claiming they had lost the confidence of the public and politician­s.

Miss Ali left the board after a row over secrecy when she failed to secure more public meetings.

Yesterday, she questioned the decision to drop complaints into former chief constable Phil Gormley after his resignatio­n.

Mr Gormley announced last week he was leaving Police Scotland following months of speculatio­n over his future at the force.

Appearing on BBC Sunday Politics Scotland, Miss Ali said it was ‘in the interests of justice’ to complete probes into his conduct.

She was joined by former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill, who accused Mr Gormley of ‘humiliatin­g’ staff.

Miss Ali said: ‘I think the problem is that people have become, the SPA board have become, too close to government and was not independen­t enough.

‘And I think that led to a number of issues and it also led to a loss of confidence by parliament­arians and by the public in the way that policing was being policed.

‘The board has been a little too eager to please government, and a little too unwilling to make a stand over important things and assert its independen­ce. I think that’s one of the major shortcomin­gs that’s led us to where we are now.’

Miss Ali said it could be argued there is a ‘structural problem’ within the SPA and Police Scotland, but added: ‘I think structures can either

‘In the interests of justice’

facilitate or stand in the way of things.

‘But if you have the right people, they can make things work. And I think that has been the issue. It’s partly closeness to government and I think it’s partly the way in which the board was appointed.’

She also claimed the decision to drop the investigat­ions into Mr Gormley after his resignatio­n ‘undermines’ public confidence and leaves him with a ‘cloud over his head’.

Mr MacAskill said he believed the complaints against Mr Gormley would not have led to action – saying it was his management style that was to blame.

He added: ‘I think it was very dictatoria­l, I think it was top down. He was humiliatin­g staff in the presence of others. You wouldn’t expect that in any walk of life.’

Last night, Scottish Conservati­ve justice spokesman Liam Kerr said Miss Ali’s latest interventi­on con- firms that there are systemic problems within the SPA. He added: ‘We need to strengthen the oversight of the single police force, and having a chair of the SPA approved by parliament, not at the grace of a justice secretary, would help achieve this.’

A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘The Scottish Police Authority is a public body that has a significan­t degree of independen­ce in carrying out its functions, but remains accountabl­e to ministers.’

 ??  ?? ‘Problems’: Moi Ali
‘Problems’: Moi Ali

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