Scottish Police Authority (SPA) chair Andrew Flanagan has made a “full and unreserved personal apology” to a former board member who claimed she was bullied by him.
Andrew Flanagan: 'In reflecting on
the last two years, there is more
I have got right than wrong'
However, he told MSPs he would not resign despite “greatly” regretting his treatment of Moi Ali, after she publicly criticised plans to hold SPA meetings in private.
He added that although he has made mistakes, “now is not the time” for a change in leadership.
Holyrood’s Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee is investigating transparency at the SPA, and has been very critical of the chair’s conduct.
Last week, the committee wrote a letter to Justice Secretary Michael Matheson voicing “very serious concerns" about how the SPA is run, saying Mr Flanagan had "behaved inappropriately".
The day prior, Ms Ali told MSPs that she felt she was bullied after Mr Flanagan said she should not continue attending board meetings, adding that her departure was a “horrendous experience”.
Mr Flanagan denied the bullying claims, but said: “I greatly regret the timing, tone and content of my initial letter to her. It was a misjudgment to send a letter rather than open up a conversation.
“She was right in raising the substantive concerns she had about transparency and perception, and she did so in a manner that was entirely consistent with her role as a public board member. I was wrong and it is important that I today set the public record straight on that.”
“I have now written to her and offered my full and unreserved personal apology.”
Mr Flanagan was also recently criticised for failing to hand a letter to board colleagues from Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) Derek Penman, which was critical of the secrecy recommendations.
“I recognise that HMICS, and indeed Audit Scotland, are not simply stakeholders,” he told the committee. “I have now put in place an automatic process that every formal communication sent to me by them will be circulated to all board members, unless otherwise stipulated by the sender,” he said.
On calls for his resignation, he added: “In reflecting on the last two years, there is more that I have got right than wrong – on strategy, on financial clarity and control, on refreshed leadership for policing and on many other aspects.
“I acknowledge my recent mistakes and you have rightly taken me to task for them. But I hope to be judged also on the significant progress achieved and the leadership potential I still have to offer.”
He also confirmed that committees would meet in public, and indicated that the imminent appointment of a deputy chair should go to a woman to create a “gender balance across the two roles”.