Chief Exec. John Foley retires from discredited Police quango. THE Chief Executive of the embattled Scottish Police Authority (SPA) is to take ‘early retirement’ – with an as-yet undisclosed pay off for leaving the crisis hit Police governance quango which oversees the running of Police Scotland.
John Foley - who faced heavy criticism along with SPA Chair Andrew Flanagan for running the SPA like the “Kremlin” in sessions before the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post Legislative Scrutiny Committee in April of this year will depart in October after the SPA’s year end accounts are signed off.
Ironically – Foley - whose retirement was announced earlier today by the SPA - will leave the discredited Police watchdog quango months before the eventual departure of Chief Executive Andrew Flanagan, who announced his resignation earlier in June.
However, Andrew Flanagan is to remain in the £70,000 a year post - while the Scottish Government look for a successor.
A recruitment round for the role of SPA Chair was only announced earlier this week, with a closing date for applications of Thursday 21 September 2017.
Commenting on Foley’s decision to take early retirement, and a payoff, Chair Andrew Flanagan said: “This new reporting arrangement is a further tangible step in strengthening oversight of forensic services, and will support work to develop a long-term strategy for forensics to complement the 2026 strategy for Police Scotland.”
“I want to pay tribute to the professionalism which he has shown throughout our consideration of this, and indeed for the valued service he has given to SPA and policing over what has been a period of unprecedented change.”
Commenting on his own departure, CEO John Foley said: “The SPA has continued to evolve and improve since its inception in 2013 and strengthening the governance of Forensic Services is the next stage of that journey and one I fully support. Clearly the revised arrangements have significant implications for the CEO role I currently hold and following detailed discussions with the Board since the start of the year I have chosen to seek early retirement.
“It has been an honour and privilege to have served as the first permanent CEO of the SPA for the past four years. I am confident that the Authority and policing will continue to improve in the coming years and I want to thank all of the staff and officers who I have had the pleasure of working with over the past four years.”
The SPA board said Foley would be paid in lieu of his contractual notice period as part of his overall settlement – but gave no figure on what the substantial payoff is likely to be.
The SPA stated: “While it is not possible at this stage to calculate a definitive figure on the overall financial settlement until Mr Foley’s formal leaving date is confirmed, SPA has agreed with Mr Foley that the costs of his financial package will be made publicly available as soon as practical after that leaving date.”
The SPA said it will now conduct a process seeking a 12-month secondee to act as chief officer for the SPA. A 12-month tenure will allow the review underway of the SPA’s wider executive requirements to be completed, the HMICS thematic inspection of the SPA to report next spring, and for a new SPA Chair to be appointed.
John Foley joined SPA in August 2013 as interim Chief Executive with management responsibilities for both the SPA’s governance and statutory forensic services responsibilities, and was formally appointed permanent CEO later that year.
Mr Foley’s early retirement comes under the terms of the approved SPA Voluntary Redundancy and Early Retirement scheme applicable to all eligible staff affected by a material change to their role, and commensurate with his age (over 55) and length of service (4 years).
Although the CEO role becomes redundant from 1 September 2017, the existing Board members – who were castigated by MSPs for a collective amnesia in their attempts to answer questions before Parliamentary Committees – has decided to keep John Foley on as Chief Executive until the SPA’s 2016-2017 annual accounts are signed off in late October 2017.
The board – which comprises members who have already taken large payoffs from other public bodies under terms of being “too ill to work” – stated they had consulted Audit Scotland – the equally discredited accounts body which counts among it’s duties a responsibility to audit public finances in Scotland and ensure value for money.
However, it has come to light the same Audit Scotland recently swept a £2.4 million loss at Scottish Borders Council under the carpet – the very same local authority which paid off SPA board member David Hume a total of £318,434 in 2012 after claims of bullying at the South of Scotland local authority.
In 2012 it was reported David Hume took a £318,434 secret “too ill to work again” secret legal deal from the corruption ridden south of Scotland local authority.
Hume then joined the SPA while also working for the Scottish Government in a position on Children’s Hearings Scotland. Hume’s salary for the CHS work was funnelled through his consultancy company – Enlighten: David Hume Consulting Ltd.
Hume’s term as SBC Chief Executive span dark years at the local authority, financial scandals with the loss of £4million from the education budget, consistent allegations of a culture of backhanders at the council, and a lack of duty of care.
Scottish Borders Council had been caught up in the Miss X Rape scandal, resulting in a Scottish Parliament inquiry which heard the Council had covered up a years long case where a severely disabled woman who lived close to the Council’s St Boswell’s HQ was repeatedly raped and abused. It transpired Scottish Borders Council held a written admission of rape from the man a full two years before the case came to light. A man was later jailed for 10 years for the crimes.
Scottish Borders Council decided not to discipline any social worker, despite the fact that Miss X, a woman with learning disabilities, had been subjected to an appalling catalogue of violent physical and sexual abuse.
The remaining text of the statement issued today from the SPA focussed on changes in reporting, reminiscent of “window dressing”.
The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) is to take further steps to strengthen the leadership, visibility and governance of Forensic Services.
From 1 September 2017, the Director of Forensic Services will report directly into the Board of the SPA rather than through the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority.
One consequence of this change in reporting is a significant reduction in the line management and direct budget accountabilities of the existing SPA CEO role, and which make the role in its present form redundant.
The SPA Board has been considering the implications of forensic reporting with the CEO since the turn of the year, and as a result John Foley has opted to take early retirement under the existing SPA scheme.
As accountable officer, and to ensure business continuity, the Board has requested that Mr Foley stay on until the completion of the 2016-17 SPA accounts, which are hoped to be signed off by the end of October.
To provide the Board with contingency against any change to that expected timeframe, the Board has also agreed a payment to Mr Foley in lieu of his contractual notice, in addition to his eligibility for an early retirement payment.
The Director of Forensic Services, Tom Nelson, will from 1 September 2017 report directly to the SPA Board. He will personally report into the Deputy Chair of the SPA, Nicola Marchant.
The Chair’s review of governance in policing, published in March 2016, highlighted the need for reorganisation of the SPA’s delivery functions, which are primarily in forensics services. Further professional advice was sought from HMICS on forensics later in 2016 which has informed the approach and steps taken to date.
The SPA approved in June 2017 a proposal to create a dedicated Forensic Services Committee to scrutinise forensics delivery. The HMICS Thematic Inspection of Forensic Services, published in late June 2017, also made a number of recommendations around leadership, visibility, and governance.
The Scottish Government announced in June that a review of how the executive of the SPA can best support the Board would be led by SPA Deputy Chair Nicola Marchant, and independent local authority Chief Executive Malcolm Burr. It is expected to report its conclusions and recommendations in Autumn this year. In addition, HMICS are expected to publish its Phase 2 thematic inspection report of the SPA in spring 2018.
The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland report into the authority, authored by inspector Derek Penman, found "positive signs of improvement" in SPA board operations over the last 18 months, with improved relationships between the SPA and Police Scotland and the development of the Policing 2026 strategy described as a "major milestone".
But the HMICS report was highly critical of the approach which had led the SPA to meet in private.
Mr Penman said the "recent parliamentary scrutiny and media concerns over openness and transparency have weakened public confidence in the SPA and detracted from its ability to perform its statutory function".
He described the decision to hold meetings behind closed doors as "precipitous", and said it "should not have been implemented" until signed off by the board in full.
Mr Penman welcomed the decision of the board to revert to holding meetings in public and publishing committee papers in advance, but wrote: "I am aware that some board members continue to maintain that their decisions to implement private meetings and publish papers on the day of the board were essentially correct.
"There is a fundamental need to listen to the views of stakeholders to maintain public confidence, and on this occasion the SPA has failed to do so until pressed by parliamentary committees.The SPA must recognise the legitimate interests of parliament, local authorities, staff associations, the press and the wider public in the scrutiny of policing in Scotland."
TRANSPARENCY FIRST: Former Board member Moi Ali spoke out on transparency concerns at Police Watchdog:
A glimpse into the world of the Scottish Police Authority’s board meetings features an excerpt from the SPA’s meeting of 15 December 2016, in which Board Member Moi Ali raised serious concerns about recommendations in relation to the publication on the day of board meetings and the holding of committees in private.
More on the discussion around the Governance Framework and input from Moi Ali who raised her concerns at the meeting can be viewed here:
Ms Ali said she understood there were good reasons for those recommendations she had serious concerns about the lack of transparency around the two proposals, and that there were real drawbacks in relation to holding committee meetings in private.
Moi Ali said her concerns were two fold – the perception issue in relation to private meetings where it may be perceived that decisions may be taken behind closed doors, and that defacto decision may well be taken behind closed doors and that the process of decision making will be hidden and there is a danger in due course this will morph into a different kind of body in which effectively real decisions are taken albeit not in name but then come back to the SPA Board for rubber stamping rather than transparent debate.
UNFIT AUTHORITY: - Crisis continues at Scottish Police Authority after Board members criticise MSPs scrutiny of Cop Quango:
SPA Chair Andrew Flanagan’s decision to stay in the lead role at the now discredited Scottish Police Authority comes after one of it’s Board members – Graham Houston – launched a blistering attack on open hearings at the Scottish Parliament’s PAPLS Committee' – after it’s members quizzed the Chair & CEO of the SPA, along with Scottish Government Civil Servants at an earlier meeting of 20 April 2017.
Criticising MSPs scrutiny of the Scottish Police Authority, Board member Graham Houston said: “I also think as an example of good governance I think the treatment of my fellow board members by an audit and scrutiny committee was frankly appalling and I think if that is an example of what is expected of good scrutiny it leaves a lot to be desired. And I suggest that the members of that committee look to themselves about setting an example and also look to the guidance on board about how they conduct themselves in doing that.”
Mr Houston then attacked the media, accusing the press of abusing the ‘openness’ of the SPA and concludes by stating “I think that what will transpire is that probably we are one of the most open public authorities in Scotland.”
The SPA’s statement on the outcome of the meeting claimed it had strengthened the transparency and accessibility of its governance arrangements by making a number of revisions to Board and committee meetings and publication of papers.
The changes decided at the meeting, which will come in to effect from 1 June 2017 include:
SPA committee meetings held in public, with items taken in private only when necessary and with a clear articulation of the reason.
The publication of agendas for all public Board and committee meetings will be available on the SPA website 7 days in advance of meetings.
The publication of papers for all public Board and committee meetings will be published on the SPA website (under embargo) 3-working days in advance.
The publication of agendas for closed Board and committee meetings will be published on the SPA website (redacted if necessary) and a summary of the business conducted will be reported to the next public Board meeting.
The public will also have the opportunity to pose questions about policing matters to the SPA Board in advance of meetings.
In addition, the SPA Board established a new Deputy Chair role. Nicola Marchant has been unanimously appointed to that position with immediate effect.
Houston’s criticism of the refers to the following hearing, in which evidence revealed to MSPs portrayed the Scottish Police Authority as a haven of secrecy, run in the style of a “kremlin” operation – according to former Cabinet Secretary & PAPLS member Alex Neil MSP (SNP):
A full report on the PAPLS meeting of 20 April can be found here:POLICING SECRETS: Former Scottish Police Authority board member Moi Ali invited to give evidence at Holyrood, after MSPs accuse SPA bosses of running Police watchdog like Kremlin ‘secret society’
A further appearance of current and former board members of the Scottish Police Authority before Holyrood’s PAPLS Committee on the 11th May - established evidence in relation to a sequence of alarming events at the SPA - giving MSPs significant cause for concern of how the SPA Chair was in effect, personally running the Police watchdog as a “secret society”.
A full report on the PAPLS hearing of 11 May can be found here: UNFIT AUTHORITY: Chair of Scottish Police Authority “is not fit to continue on any public board” – says former SPA board member in evidence to Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee scrutiny of Police watchdog
The hearing also established not one board member of the now discredited Police Watchdog backed former board member Moi Ali – who was forced to resign from the SPA after she bravely raised issues of transparency and accountability during a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority in December 2016.
Then, at a hearing of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice sub-committee on Policing, Andrew Flanagan was asked by MSPs several times to consider his position as SPA Chair – yet Flanagan refused each call to stand down and allow the Scottish Police Authority to move on from the current crisis.
A more detailed report on the 18th May 2017 hearing of the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing can be found here: AUTHORITY LOST: Chair of Scottish Police Authority refuses to resign after facing challenge from Justice Committee MSPs to consider his position on discredited Police watchdog
SLOW SECRETARY: Justice Secretary Michael Matheson was criticised for lack of action in Police watchdog governance crisis
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson ducked out of taking immediate action on tackling the leadership & governance crisis at the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) – despite calls from across the political spectrum to act on restoring faith at the discredited regulator of Police Scotland.
During ‘Topical Questions’ at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 30 May 2017, MSPs from all parties called for a resolution to the crisis at the Police Regulator, and Andrew Flanagan’s refusal to step aside.
In response, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said he was “conscious of the issues” and promised to consider the reports sent to him by the committees.
In Holyrood’s main chamber, Mary Fee MSP (Scottish Labour) told Michael Matheson that Andrew Flanagan had “lost the confidence of MSPs from all parties, including back benchers from the governing party.
“It is clear that his position is untenable. It seems that Mr Flanagan and the Justice Secretary are the last two people to see that.”
She called for a “drastic overhaul of how the SPA is run”.
Shying away from immediate action on the crisis at the Scottish Police Authority, Matheson replied: “I am sure that the member will recognise that it is important that ministers give thorough consideration to these issues in coming to a determination,”
The Justice Secretary added: “On the wider issue of the governance and structure of the SPA, there is no doubt that there are aspects of the way in which the SPA has operated over the past few years that have not worked as well as they should have and that there are areas in which I believe further improvements could be made.
“I have been clear about the need for the SPA to operate in an open and transparent manner as it undertakes its processes and considers matters, and I have repeatedly made that clear.”
A full report on MSPs questions to Justice Secretary Michael Matheson can be viewed here:Justice Secretary dodges call to fire Chair of discredited Scottish Police Authority - as cross party MSPs say Andrew Flanagan’s position is untenable, and crisis will impact on diversity, recruitment & transparency at public bodies
Previous articles on the Scottish Police Authority can be found here: Scottish Police Authority - Poor governance, private meetings & lack of accountability at Police regulator