Police chief candidates read about snub online

Phil Gormley, the new chief constable of Police Scotland. Picture: PA
Phil Gormley, the new chief constable of Police Scotland. Picture: PA
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TWO of Scotland’s most senior police officers only discovered they had missed out on the force’s top job when they read about it online.

New Police Scotland Chief Constable Philip Gormley’s running mates weren’t told they had been unsuccessful until two hours after news of the appointment was leaked.

Neil Richardson and Iain Livingstone, both former Lothian and Borders bosses, are said to have been left 
reeling by the snub.

The News also understands that the Scottish Police Authority failed to ask Deputy Chief Constable Richardson to temporarily replace outgoing chief Sir Stephen House until Gormley officially takes up the post – despite announcing his duties in a press release.

A senior police source told the News that DCCs Richardson and Livingstone were called personally by SPA chair Andrew Flanagan two hours after Gormley’s appointment was first revealed online.

And, initially, the SPA wrote on its website: “XX has been appointed as new chief constable”, which sparked hilarity and criticism on Twitter.

In the days leading up to the announcement, unprecedented measures were being taken to prevent a leak – including asking all three candidates to undergo medicals.

A source told the News: “The whole process has been unprofessional beyond words. They have been put through all sorts of hoops while using more public money. There is real angst about somebody coming from south of the Border again.”

Niven Rennie, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, took to Twitter to describe the leak as “embarrassing”.

He said: “The question remains though – how did appointment of CC leak before other candidates were told?”

Ex-Norfolk chief Gormley will be taking on the role at a crucial time for Police Scotland, which has been at the centre of several controversies since its birth in April 2013, including armed officers on routine patrols, the large-scale use of stop-and-search and the death in custody of Sheku Bayoh.

An SPA spokesman said: “We were aware of some speculative coverage on a media outlet but all candidates involved were spoken to personally by the chair before the SPA communicated the appointment to relevant staff associations and unions, the workforce across both SPA and Police Scotland, and media, public and other stakeholders.”

The SPA insisted it had “indicated” to DCC Richardson that he carry out the chief constable’s duties until Gormley takes up the post on January 5.

Mr Flanagan said: “I am confident we have found the best candidate to build on the progress that policing in Scotland has made.”