Civil service trade unions have today said they continue to support the Scottish Government’s complaints process for examining harassment allegations despite the devolved administration conceding it breached its own rules in an investigation of Alex Salmond.
The ex-first minister launched a judicial review against the administration he used to run over the process used to investigate sexual harassment claims against him. The allegations were made a year ago and date back to 2013, when he was in office.
At the Court of Session in Edinburgh this week, the Scottish Government aknowledged it had breached its own rules by appointing an investigating officer into the cases who had "prior involvement" in the case. However, this conclusion does not affect the ongoing police inquiry into the claims made by two female civil servants a year ago.
Evans today met representatives from the FDA, PCS and Prospect unions, as well as the Council of Scottish Government Unions, to discuss the outcome of the case.
The Scottish Government has had an independent policy for dealing with complaints against ministers since 2010. In 2017 it was updated to include former ministers.
The unions said Evans had explained that her decision to concede the case was due to an issue with the application of one paragraph in the process – that the investigating officer had previous contract with the two complainants.
“The trade unions very much welcome the permanent secretary’s commitment to an internal review of that specific element and the permanent secretary welcomed the offer of trade union involvement in that review,” they said in a statment.
They said they remained proud of their efforts to help negotiate a process “by which our members can raise concerns about the conduct of ministers and other politicians (current and past) that is unique to Scotland”.
“This is a procedure which we believe makes the Scottish Government a safer and fairer place to work,” the statement said. “We believe that the procedure we negotiated is a fair, robust and crucially an accessible one.
“Any of our members who feels that they have an issue which requires investigation should continue to use the procedure to take forward a complaint, and expect that the Scottish Government will handle their complaint properly. Please also continue to contact your union about such matters as we are there to assist.”
Lynn Henderson, the Scottish secretary of the PCS union, said the unions were grateful to Evans “for taking the time to brief us, and the full and frank discussion that we had”.
She added: “We want to re-assure our members who may be worried about using the current procedure that we believe it remains an appropriate way of ensuring the Scottish Government is a safe and dignified place to work.”