Scottish Police Authority board ‘fractured’ after board members raise concerns about outgoing chairman

Vic Emery

It has emerged that Scotland’s police watchdog has been embroiled in internal strife with five of its board members raising concerns about the ability of its outgoing chairman.

Vic Emery, the chairman of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), was accused of making inappropriate statements about senior figures in the police and government, among them Justice Secretary Michael Matheson the Sunday Herald reports.

Mr Emery told the board that the Scottish government, to whom they had complained, had not given credence to the claims but announced he was leaving his post the same day.

Police Scotland has been mired in controversy with a series of rows over issues including stop and search, armed police on routine patrols, the death of Sheku Bayoh and, most recently, a failure to follow up on a car crash on the M9 until three days after it happened, by which time the sole survivor was in a critical state and later died.

The SPA is meant to evaluate the performance of the single force and Mr Emery has led it since 2012.

In particular, it is tasked with holding the chief constable, currently Sir Stephen House, to account.

The five SPA members, about 45 per cent of the board, raised concerns with the Scottish government about Mr Emery between May and June.

They were: David Hume, Borders Council chief executive; Brian Barbour, an IT expert; Lisa Tennant, a businesswoman and Scottish Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal panel member; Moi Ali, judicial complaints reviewer; and ex-police officer Douglas Yates.

The board members’ claims led to an inquiry by Paul Johnston, interim director-general of the Scottish government’s Learning & Justice Directorate.

Mr Johnston questioned staff and board members in his investigation.

At a meeting earlier this month of board members in Glasgow, Mr Emery named four of the five members who complained about him but added the government had not given substance to any claims.

He also announced he would, like Sir Stephen, not seek reappointment.

A source in SPA said that the watchdog’s board was now “fractured”.

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