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Police Scotland chief steps aside amid fresh inquiry

Chief constable Phil Gormley has taken a leave of absence from the force, it has emerged.

Phil Gormley: Chief constable has led Police Scotland since 2016.
Phil Gormley: Chief constable has led Police Scotland since 2016. PA

Police Scotland's chief constable has taken a leave of absence amid an inquiry into a complaint made by a senior colleague.

Phil Gormley, who has led the force since 2016, is already under investigation over allegations of bullying, it is understood.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) said both enquiries regard potential gross misconduct.

Senior deputy chief constable Iain Livingstone will assume responsibility for Police Scotland's day-to-day operations, despite announcing plans to retire this autumn.

'I deny and reject the allegations and [...] it is my intention to resume my full duties when this matter has been resolved.'
Chief constable Phil Gormley

In a statement, Gormley said: "I have been notified by the Scottish Police Authority (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."

The force executive is Police Scotland's senior management team, made up largely of officers ranked assistant chief constable and higher.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1394517-kenny-macaskill-warns-of-police-scotland-leadership-gap/ | default

Three separate complaints have been made about the chief constable, it is understood. The latest emerged during the PIRC's inquiry into the initial allegation of bullying.

Gormley took over as chief constable following the departure of Stephen House, who resigned in 2015 amid controversies over armed policing and the deaths of a couple on the M9.

Gormley has refused to step aside despite political pressure.

A spokesman for the the SPA said: "The SPA has today agreed to a request from chief constable Phil Gormley that he take a temporary leave of absence. This will be kept under review.

"The board has confirmed with DCC designate Iain Livingstone that he will take temporary day to day leadership of Police Scotland until further notice."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP, who led calls for Gormley to stand aside in July, 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 a police Scotland can move on. There is a lot to fix in Police Scotland and we need effective leadership to fix it."

'With the most senior police officer under investigation, it is vital that whatever the outcome the public maintains confidence in Police Scotland.'
Scottish Labour justice spokeswoman Claire Baker MSP

Scottish Labour justice spokeswoman Claire Baker MSP said Gormley's decision "risks further damaging public confidence in Police Scotland".

"Under these circumstances the SNP's poor management of Police Scotland is creating an increasingly unstable and worrying situation," she added.

"With the most senior police officer under investigation, it is vital that whatever the outcome the public maintains confidence in Police Scotland."

John Finnie MSP, justice spokesman for the Scottish Greens, said complaints against the chief constable "must be treated with utmost seriousness".

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr MSP added: "Given the circumstances it is only right that Phil Gormley has temporarily stepped aside."

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