Scottish Government reaches ‘milestone’ in new complaints process

Deputy first minister John Swinney reveals government looking to appoint independent adjudicators and investigators.

Scottish Government reaches ‘milestone’ in new complaints process PA Media

A new procedure for dealing with complaints about Scottish ministers has reached a “milestone”, deputy first minister John Swinney said, as the Scottish Government seeks to recruit people for key roles.

The government is looking to appoint independent adjudicators, who will be paid £498 a day, as well as independent investigators, to be paid £360 a day.

The move comes in the wake of a review into the Scottish Government’s botched handling of harassment complaints against former first minister Alex Salmond.

He was awarded the maximum possible legal costs of £512,250 after the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled the government’s handling of those allegations was “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias”.

The review by Laura Dunlop QC into complaints procedures called for allegations to be investigated independently, rather than by the Scottish Government.

With the new procedure recommended to be in place by December 2021, the positions are now being advertised on the government’s public appointments portal.

Swinney revealed the move in a letter to MSPs on Holyrood’s Finance and Public Administration Committee, telling them “the development of the updated procedure for handling complaints about ministers has reached a milestone in its progress”.

The deputy first minister said: “In June, the Scottish Government committed to establishing an external, independent procedure to handle formal complaints made about a current or former minister’s behaviour.

“Following consultation with stakeholders, including our recognised trades unions, we are seeking to attract interest for external adjudicator and external investigator roles through advertising on the Scottish Government Public Appointments portal from today.”

Swinney added that ministers are “on track to develop the other parts of the procedure”, promising the committee that he would give a “fuller update” on how the introduction of the new procedure is going before the end of the year.

For those seeking to be appointed as independent adjudicators, the advertisement states the government is looking for “experienced individuals, external to the civil service, with highly developed communication skills, sound judgement, and ability to handle issues sensitively”.

It adds that candidates should also “have the ability to make clear, balanced and constructive recommendations on potentially complex issues having analysed and evaluated the facts presented” and states that “experience in people-related adjudication in the workplace would be highly desirable”.

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