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