Top po­lice of­fi­cer got £34k of pub­lic cash with ‘no ques­tions’

Scottish Daily Mail - - Life - By Joe Sten­son

SCOT­LAND’S most se­nior fe­male po­lice of­fi­cer faced no ques­tion­ing af­ter re­quest­ing a £34,000 bank trans­fer of pub­lic cash to fund her re­lo­ca­tion, a tri­bunal heard yes­ter­day.

Deputy Chief Con­sta­ble Rose Fitz­patrick faced crit­i­cism in De­cem­ber af­ter the Au­dit Scot­land pub­lic sec­tor fi­nance watch­dog re­vealed she had a £53,000 tax bill paid and had been given £67,000 to help move house.

As part of her con­tract, Mrs Fitz­patrick was en­ti­tled to ‘rea­son­able ex­penses’ to cover her move north of the Bor­der from the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice in London

‘Fi­nan­cial wrong­do­ing’

to take up her new post in De­cem­ber 2012.

But the pay­ments – signed off by the Scot­tish Po­lice Au­thor­ity (SPA) – were found by Au­dit Scot­land not to ‘rep­re­sent a good use of pub­lic money’. This piled fur­ther pres­sure on the be­lea­guered SPA.

Yes­ter­day, Mrs Fitz­patrick gave ev­i­dence at SPA whistle­blower Amy McDon­ald’s em­ploy­ment tri­bunal in Glas­gow.

She is seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion for ‘in­jury to hurt feel­ings’, claim­ing she was side­lined and frozen out of key meet­ings af­ter mak­ing al­le­ga­tions of ‘fi­nan­cial wrong­do­ing’.

Mrs Fitz­patrick told the tri­bunal that she had pro­vided Au­dit Scot­land with in­for­ma­tion on the £34,000 March 2017 pay­ment dur­ing its re­view of the SPA’s fi­nances.

Ques­tion­ing Mrs Fitz­patrick – who is due to re­tire in June with a pen­sion pot of up to £600,000 – Mrs McDon­ald’s lawyer David Hay asked: ‘Did any­one within the SPA or Po­lice Scot­land ask any ques­tions about this pay­ment?’

She replied: ‘No, I wasn’t asked any ques­tions about it at all.’

Mr Hay con­tin­ued: ‘When you made this ex­penses re­quest, had you ex­pressed any trans­fer pref­er­ence or view as to the mech­a­nism by which that was to be paid to you?’

Mrs Fitz­patrick claimed that she had re­quested the bank trans­fer as a re­sult of a con­ver­sa­tion she had with then SPA chief ex­ec­u­tive John Fo­ley.

She ex­plained: ‘If we’re talk­ing about the ex­penses re­lo­ca­tion re­im­burse­ment... I de­scribed a con­ver­sa­tion I had in De­cem­ber 2016 with the chief ex­ec­u­tive where we had dis­cussed a de­lay of some five months in re­im­burs­ing ini­tial re­lo­ca­tion costs.

‘I had been told that de­lay had been a re­sult of pa­per­work getting lost in the sys­tem. I of­fered to have any fur­ther re­lo­ca­tion re­im­burse­ments made by bank trans­fer to avoid any sim­i­lar de­lay in the fu­ture.’

Mrs Fitz­patrick said she was glad the SPA’s fi­nances were be­ing ex­am­ined.

She added: ‘It’s ac­tu­ally, I con­sider, very im­por­tant that pub­lic fi­nances are prop­erly scru­ti­nised.’

At pre­vi­ous hear­ings, Mrs McDon­ald has said such re­lo­ca­tion pay­ments are ‘akin to pay­ing a bonus’ – which is against SPA and Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment rules.

She has claimed she re­ported the pay­ment should be made through the pay­roll sys­tem so tax and Na­tional In­sur­ance could be de­ducted.

Au­dit Scot­land in­ves­ti­gated the SPA af­ter Mrs McDon­ald con­tacted both it and Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Michael Math­e­son over her con­cerns

The tri­bunal con­tin­ues.

Faced crit­i­cism: Rose Fitz­patrick

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