Comment: Is Mark Turley just convenient scapegoat?

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the resignation of Mark Turley in the wake of the Mortonhall ashes scandal raises more questions than it delivers answers.

The £123,000-a-year director of the city council’s biggest department leaves with praise from the chief executive and an insistence that he was not to blame for what happened at Mortonhall.

Once tipped as a future chief executive, his is certainly a big scalp for any scandal to claim, but what his departure achieves is far from clear. There may well have been nothing he could have done differently to avoid the awful events at the crematorium. His huge range of responsibilities – from housing and transport to environmental health – meant he had to rely on others to draw problems like this to his attention. The abandonment of the council’s internal investigation means we will never know exactly who raised what concerns and when.

Mr Turley was undoubtedly a very able official, credited with a key role in transforming the city’s housing department from being one of the worst in Scotland to one of the best.

His resignation is an easy solution for the city in many ways. It gives the impression of a fresh start without having to go through the costly and time-consuming process of exploring potential legal action against any past or present employee. It is true that may ultimately have proved fruitless.

But instead we are left wondering whether Mr Turley is simply a convenient scapegoat, someone who has been sacrificed to satisfy a demand for “heads to roll”.

It is only fair that some details of anyone’s employment remain confidential, but when such a senior public employee quits in such circumstances it is reasonable to be told whether or not he received a pay-off, and whether the council’s internal inquiry will now look into the action’s of any others. A more open approach would go a long way to helping to restore public confidence.