DCC Rose Fitzpatrick could not explain delays over report. A DEPUTY Chief Constable of Police Scotland – who asked for her relocation expenses to be paid by cash - has failed to explain to MSPs why emails between senior officers took three months to release to a probe on activities surrounding an illegal Police spying operation connected to the unsolved murder of Emma Caldwell.
And, it emerged at a hearing on Thursday at the Scottish Parliament’s Justice sub-Committee on Policing - that Police Scotland witnesses were unable to explain why contact details for retired officers who were of relevance to the probe being carried out by Durham Constabulary - were withheld for at least two months..
Evidence from Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick during Thursday’s session at Holyrood was braded unbelievable and “absolutely staggering” by MSPs on the justice committee.
Margaret Mitchell MSP (Scottish Conservative) who is convener of the full Justice Committee – was unable to secure a reasonable explanation from the witnesses as to why information was not handed over to Durham Constabulary during the investigation.
Frequently during answers to members of the Committee, the Deputy Chief Constable referred to legal advice on what could or could not proceed, yet DCC Fitzpatrick remained vague throughout each response.
At one point Ms Mitchell said she “remains unconvinced at answers given today”.
Ms Mitchell later dismissed an explanation by deputy chief constable Rose Fitzpatrick regarding what the police had learned from their failings.
MSPs also criticised Police Scotland’s “overly secretive approach” to investigations into their illegal spying activities against journalists, sources & Police officers.
Reports subsequently generated by these investigations – the published – yet heavily redacted report by Durham Constabulary, and the so-far unpublished Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) report on misconduct were branded as attempts to conceal information which had already been published in other areas.
Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick admitted during her evidence that Police Scotland had failed four officers at the centre of the illegal spying probe, but then she went on to defend her colleague’s handling of the independent investigation carried out by Durham Constabulary’s Chief Constable - Michael Barton.
During an appearance at the Justice sub-Committee on Policing in February, Chief Constable Michael Barton told the committee he had originally been asked to carry out an investigation into the Counter Corruption Unit (CCU) following a ruling of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).
However, it emerged in Mr Barton’s evidence the investigation was later downgraded to an inquiry.
Struggling to give acceptable responses without continually referring to legal advice, DCC Fitzpatrick admitted there had been a "significant difference of professional view" between herself and the Durham Constabulary Chief Constable on how to proceed with the probe - but that a resolution had been found after Police Scotland obtained legal advice.
A full report on the Durham Chief Constable Michael Barton’s evidence to the Justice sub-Committee on Policing can be read here: FAIR COP: Police Scotland officers fabricated intelligence in order to spy on journalists & sources in CCU spying scandal - evidence from Durham Constabulary's Chief Constable to Holyrood Justice Committee
The 80 minutes of ‘evidence’ from Police Scotland witnesses – which included - Duncan Campbell, Interim Head of Legal Services, and Superintendent Andy McDowall, Professional Standards Department, Police Scotland. was widely criticised in the media and by cross party politicians.
The full evidence session with DCC Rose Fitzpatrick & other witnesses at the Scottish Parliament’s Justice sub-Committee on Policing can be viewed here:
The full written transcript of the hearing will be added to this article when published by the Scottish Parliament next week.
Meanwhile a day after the woeful evidence from Police Scotland witnesses to MSPs, information has emerged at an employment tribunal that Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick asked for relocation expenses to be paid by cash transfer.
A former accountant with the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) - Amy McDonald told the tribunal that the payment would not have gone through the payroll system, where it would have been taxed.
Mrs McDonald said this was akin to a bonus payment and was against SPA and government rules.
The tribunal heard that the senior accountant was frozen out by the SPA after raising objections.
Previously at the tribunal hearings, Mrs McDonald had also revealed four unnamed senior SPA figures had received significant payments of public cash - totalling £350,000.
Mrs MacDonald claims the four who received the payments should not have been entitled to them.
The payments included a £165,000 "golden handshake" for a senior executive who had been arrested for domestic abuse just weeks previously.
Mrs McDonald - who was the Scottish Police Authority’s director of Financial Accountability - told the tribunal she raised objections with the watchdog's officials.
Two months after raising concerns, Mrs McDonald informed the public spending watchdog Audit Scotland and Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.
As a result, Audit Scotland probed issues raised and published a scathing report into the SPA's finances in December, criticising the "unacceptable" use of taxpayers' money – which has not been repaid.
DCC Fitzpatrick became Scotland's most senior female police officer when she moved from the Metropolitan Police in London in 2012, ahead of the formation of Police Scotland in April 2013.
The Audit Scotland report said the deputy chief constable was given £18,000 to relocate during the 2014/15 financial year, and another £49,000 for a similar move in 2016/17.
Mrs McDonald told the employment tribunal hearing in Glasgow that DCC Fitzpatrick had asked for a cash transfer to be made for the expenses although by the time she made the request she had lived in Scotland for four years.
Mrs McDonald said: "I could not see any exceptional circumstances to support this payment of relocation expenses.
"There was no event or circumstance which I can see to support the claim."
Mrs McDonald said DCC Fitzpatrick viewed the payment as more akin to a bonus and added: "The SPA does not allow bonuses to be paid. And Scottish government rules also prevent bonuses from being paid."
Mrs McDonald said normally such payments would go through the payroll.
Ms McDonald said: "The deputy chief constable asked for a cash transfer. This is something which does not go through the tax system."
In its report, Audit Scotland said relocation money paid to DCC Fitzpatrick and a further £53,000 to settle her tax liability in 2017 "did not represent a good use" of public funds.
While Audit Scotland rebuked the SPA for its poor accounting of these payments, none of the public funds have been repaid.
A BBC Scotland article reports that Ms McDonald's tribunal case relates to hundreds of thousands of pounds in further payments received by other senior figures in policing from the SPA, all of which she says she raised concerns about through the body's whistleblowing policy.
However, a court order obtained by the SPA prevents the names of those senior figures – who received large payments of public cash - from being revealed in connection with the proceedings.
Mrs McDonald is a qualified chartered accountant who joined the SPA as director of financial accountability in 2014. However, and possibly as a result of raising objections to matters of financial accountability, Mrs McDonald is no longer in a financial role at the SPA having moved to a position with its forensic science team.
The case in which the details of cash demands by DCC Fitzpatrick have emerged relates to an action brought by Mrs McDonald – who claims she has suffered as a result of highlighting the potential financial wrongdoing.
BBC Scotland has further revealed that the tribunal later heard that after Mrs McDonald had submitted her grievance, she was warned she had posed a terrorist threat to DCC Fitzpatrick.
In her application to the tribunal she had said that the deputy chief constable had sold her house but insisted she had only revealed the town and county where it was located.
Asked what she understood the threat to be, she said: "I had put DCC Fitzpatrick's personal safety at risk, potentially she could come to great harm as a consequence.
"Not harm just for DCC Fitzpatrick but for her family as well."
Mrs McDonald said she was extremely frightened by this and was put under a great deal of stress.
Further information payments to DCC Rose Fitzpatrick can be found in the Scottish Sun here: Law unto themselves - Police Scotland branded ‘dodgy tax haven’ for wrongly listing part of top cop’s taxpayer-funded £120k relocation deal as childcare vouchers
Events have further moved on today, with the announcement that the deputy chair of the Scottish Police Authority - Nicola Marchant – who was appointed under the former chair Andrew Flanagan - is to resign from her role on 21 March.
In a statement issued by the Scottish Police Authority, SPA Board member, Nicola Marchant, has announced her resignation from the Board of the SPA having stood down as Deputy Chair last month.
Dr Marchant informed the Cabinet Secretary and SPA Chair earlier this week and will step down on 21 March 2018.
Susan Deacon, Chair of the SPA said: “I want to thank Nicola for the contribution she has made to the SPA over the last two and a half years as a Board member, as Deputy Chair and most recently for her work on the Executive Review of the SPA. I wish her well for the future.”
Politicians have described this as a good move, however, there has been recent criticism of the new SPA Chair Susan Deacon’s praise of the Scottish Government's approach to policing, raising questions as to whether Ms Deacon – who replaced Andrew Flanagan as SPA Chair – will fair any better in bringing transparency to the discredited Scottish Police Authority.
Previous articles on the Scottish Police Authority can be found here: Scottish Police Authority - Poor governance, private meetings & lack of accountability at Police regulator