Martin Hannan: It could yet be all change here

|n internal investigation into Lothian Buses' chief executive Ian Craig's conduct came down heavily against him. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
|n internal investigation into Lothian Buses' chief executive Ian Craig's conduct came down heavily against him. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Since it was announced earlier this month, I have been wondering what shape the inquiry into the scandal at Lothian Buses will take.

No terms of reference have been announced and no inquiry chairperson has been named, but let’s give him or her some starters for ten.

Remember that this all went really messy after an internal investigation into Lothian Buses chief executive Ian Craig’s conduct came down heavily against him. No less than five of the eight complaints lodged against him were upheld. The then-chairwoman Ann Faulds, a solicitor above reproach, recommended that he be dismissed, only for the council to not support her, and as a matter of principle – thank goodness some people still have them – she resigned.

It is that issue above all which has prompted the independent inquiry, and I believe nothing other than the entire future of Lothian Buses is at stake.

The Evening News has already published key questions that the inquiry must ask, the most important of which are these: Why did the council reject former chairman Ann Faulds’ call for Ian Craig to be dismissed, only to accept new chairman Tony Depledge’s recommendation that he leave just a couple of months later? And has the council respected legislation requiring Lothian Buses to be run on an arms-length basis?

I want the inquiry to go a lot further. I do not see the point in pillorying chief executive Craig and the other three senior managers when clearly there is something systematically wrong with Lothian Buses. There should be questions on a whole range of issues, and not just the council’s decision on Craig, or else we will never get to the bottom of the mess.

For instance, who leaked information from inside the company, particularly to the Evening News? Oh, and in case anyone thinks otherwise, this newspaper will never reveal its sources and I personally would go to jail rather than give away my source for some of the allegations I can reveal today.

I have it on very good authority that a complaint or complaints were registered about managers authorising work by company staff that was to their benefit – so-called “homers”, if you like. Is that true, and if so, why has the complaint not been followed up?

Secondly, has any allegation of misconduct in the appointment of female employees been made? If so, who was that against and was there any truth in it?

Why did John Martin, non-executive director, investigate the case against Craig and uphold five charges yet not recommend his dismissal? When Ann Faulds saw the outcome of the investigation this expert on employment law concluded that Craig had to go, so was Martin put under any pressure to preserve Craig’s position?

The council is in an invidious position, because legally Lothian Buses must be run at arms length. But as 91 per cent shareholder, there’s no doubt the council interfered, not least in forcing the trams on Lothian Buses. What do the other shareholders (ie the other Lothian councils) think of that interference? If it emerges that serious meddling took place, then all involved must resign and leave public life, otherwise Lothian Buses may well be subject to action by a Scottish Government that, I can assure you, is looking very askance at this whole situation.

Kez too good to be Jim’s dummy

This SNP member hooted when he learned that Labour’s absentee Scottish branch manager, Jim Murphy, had decided against the “Yes for Labour” strategy. It was an unusual bout of good sense on Murphy’s part, occasioned, no doubt, by having a word with some of his Westminster colleagues who pointed out the ludicrousness of adopting the pro-independence refrain for a party that is stoutly Unionist.

The sooner he quits and gives Kezia Dugdale the leader’s job, the better it will be for Scottish Labour, for she is far too good to be acting as the dummy of a ventriloquist 400 miles away.

Guvnor shows who’s the boss

As a birthday treat, I attended the performance of One Man Two Guvnors at the Festival Theatre on Friday. It was one of the best theatre nights I’ve had in years, not least because the pre-theatre dinner in Ciao Roma was superb. More major hit plays like this, please, and we will all support our theatres more than we do.

Julianne’s roots show

So glad Julianne Moore won the best actress Oscar, for she is a lady who is so proud of her Scottish roots that she even tints them ginger. Joke!

Hysterical claims are an own goal

I keep seeing signs around the city warning the fans of Hibs not to get involved in the Hibs Supporters Limited’s attempt to take ownership of the club, saying it’s a Ponzi scheme. That claim is so over the top it’s laughable.

A Ponzi scheme is illegal and they work because the originator of the scheme takes advantage of the incompetence or lack of knowledge on the part of the scammed investor.

Having checked, the people who are leading HSL and their advisers are highly competent people who know exactly what they are doing and what they will be liable for.

If you want to object to HSL, do so in sensible terms, otherwise myself and other observers will ignore you.