Police Scotland chief constable resigns amid intense scrutiny

Philip Gormley
Philip Gormley

The chief constable of Police Scotland has resigned following months of intense scrutiny over allegations of bullying and questions aout ministerial oversight.

Philip Gormley has been on special leave since September 2017 amid investigations into claims of gross misconduct, which will now be dropped.

However, the political crisis over Justice Secretary Michael Matheson’s role in blocking Mr Gormley’s return to work is likely to continue.

The minister intervened to overturn the Scottish Police Authority’s decision to allow Mr Gormley to resume his duties while investigations continued.

Daniel Johnson, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, said: “Police Scotland has been riddled by crisis and controversy for years now, but the case of Phil Gormley descended into utter farce and raised serious questions about ministerial oversight.

“This sorry affair has dragged the reputation of Scottish policing through the mud and must be incredibly demoralising for rank and file officers who put their lives on the line to keep communities safe.

“Regardless of Mr Gormley’s decision to resign, there are still serious questions for Michael Matheson to answer.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: “The resignation of Gormley should not lead people to believe all the problems in Police Scotland are solved.

“With lawyers exchanging blows, the relationships at the top of Scottish policing were damaged to such an extent that it became impossible for Phil Gormley to return.

“The rate at which Chief Constables and SPA bosses have come and gone points to a much deeper issue. Problems are hardwired into the structures they are operating within.

“Powers over policing should be shared across more individuals and communities to avoid these situations, rather than hoarded on the desk of the Justice Secretary. An independent expert review of how policing structures are operating is essential to inject accountability, transparency and localism back into the system.”

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