Scotland’s new chief constable will be called to appear before MSPs amid the fallout from Police Scotland breaking rules on intercepting communications in an effort to identify journalists’ sources.
Holyrood’s Justice Committee has decided to invite the new head of Police Scotland, Phil Gormley, to answer questions in what is likely to be his first appearance before a parliamentary committee since succeeding Sir Stephen House at the beginning of last month.
The decision comes after three serving officers at the centre of breaches identified by the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office (IOCCO) declined invitations to give evidence at Holyrood.
Gormley, who will be invited along with a representative from the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), will be asked to give evidence on “internal communications at Police Scotland and on Police Scotland’s policies and procedures in relation to the protection of staff who report wrongdoing or malpractice within the organisation”, according to minutes of the justice committee’s meeting.
MSPs will also write to HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, Derek Penman, asking when he is likely to publish findings from a review of counter corruption practices launched in the wake of the IOCCO findings.
IOCCO confirmed in November that the single force breached the watchdog’s code of practice on five occasions while seeking communications data, labelling the breaches “reckless”.
MSPs have since been locked in a stand-off with Police Scotland after repeated attempts to call in serving officers at the centre of the breaches were turned down.
The chief superintendent who heads up Police Scotland’s counter corruption unit as well as two detective superintendents last week wrote to the committee declining their invitation to attend at this time.
MSPs retain the power to compel witnesses to attend committee sessions, though it would appear that they have decided to take a different route for now. A date for the committee session has yet to be signed off.
Gormley, a former deputy director general of the National Crime Agency, had already been scheduled to appear before the Scottish Parliament’s justice sub-committee on policing on 10 March.