The chief constable of Police Scotland, Phil Gormley, has stepped aside after further allegations of gross misconduct were made against him.
It emerged in July that Mr Gormley was being investigated by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) over bullying allegations.
He has now taken “special leave” after a further complaint was made.
Mr Gormley denies the allegations, and said he intends to resume his duties in the future.
He was appointed as chief constable of Police Scotland – which is the second largest force in the UK after the Metropolitan Police in London – in January of last year, and his contract still has 16 months to run.
‘Reject the allegations’
In a statement, he said: “I have been notified by the SPA of a complaint made against me. This complaint originates from a member of the Force Executive.
“In the interests of the office of chief constable and the broader interests of Police Scotland, I have sought and been granted special leave to enable this matter to be properly assessed.
“I deny and reject the allegations and will co-operate with the SPA’s assessment and procedures. It is my intention to resume my full duties when this matter has been resolved.”
What complaints have been made against Mr Gormley?
- In July, Pirc began an inquiry following allegations made by a police superintendent of bullying which, if proved, would amount to gross misconduct.
- Last month a second complaint – by a rank and file officer – was received by the SPA which is considering whether to pass it to Pirc.
- And today the chief constable has been told Pirc is investigating a third complaint. This came from either a senior civilian manager or an assistant or deputy chief constable.
The Force Executive is Police Scotland’s senior management team, and is made up of officers ranked at Assistant Chief Constable and higher, as well as the force’s deputy chief officer and the director of information and communications technology.
The latest complaint against Mr Gormley was passed to Pirc by the SPA, with the commissioner concluding that the claims would amount to gross misconduct if found to be true.
A statement released by Pirc confirmed it was also still investigating the earlier allegations of misconduct made against the chief constable.
The statement added: “Once each investigation is concluded, the commissioner will submit a report to the SPA containing a summary of the evidence and providing an opinion on whether the misconduct allegations about the chief constable should be referred to a misconduct hearing.
“Where the Authority determines that there is a case to answer for either misconduct or gross misconduct, it must refer the misconduct allegation to a misconduct hearing.”
The SPA, which holds Police Scotland to account, said it would keep the decision to grant the chief constable leave under review on a four-weekly basis.
Iain Livingstone, who is Mr Gormley’s deputy, will take over the top job until further notice. Mr Livingstone is due to retire later this year.
What is “gross misconduct”?
Police Scotland defines gross misconduct as “a breach of the standards of professional behaviour which is so serious that dismissal may be justified”.
These standards cover:
- Honesty and Integrity
- Authority, Respect and Courtesy
- Equality and Diversity
- Use of Force
- Orders and Instructions
- Duties and Responsibilities
- Fitness for Duty
- Discreditable Conduct
Mr Gormley was appointed as chief constable of Police Scotland in January 2016 after taking over from Sir Stephen House.
He had formerly been deputy director of the National Crime Agency, and had served as the chief constable of Norfolk Police.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie had been among those calling for Mr Gormley to stand aside when the initial allegations were made against him in July.
Mr Rennie said: “It has taken too long but Phil Gormley has made the right decision to temporarily stand aside and I commend him on that.
“The investigation needs to be completed effectively and swiftly so that Police Scotland can move on.
“There is a lot to fix in Police Scotland and we need effective leadership to fix it.”
The Scottish Conservatives called for a “swift and thorough investigation”, while Labour urged the Scottish government to clarify what impact Mr Gormley’s decision to step aside would have on the “already shaky management” of Police Scotland.
John Finnie of the Scottish Greens, who is a former police officer, said he believed it was “wise” for the chief constable to take special leave while the investigations were ongoing.