Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today written to the Justice Secretary and Scottish Police Authority Chair to ask them to ensure all drafts and iterations of the suppressed police report at the heart of a recent BBC documentary are made available.
The 'Police Scotland Quality Assurance Review' was commissioned by then Chief Constable Sir Stephen House in 2014, a year after the creation of the national force. Last week it was alleged that the Chief Constable's office then changed tenses to suggest problems had been fixed and removed comments in which officers described working in an atmosphere of fear.
On 28 March, a request for the report under freedom of information legislation was rejected. On 11 April, a further request for previous drafts of the report was also rejected. Justice Secretary Michael Matheson told Holyrood on Tuesday that the report was never given to the Scottish Government and said that it was a mistake for the national force not to have shared it with the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).
Mr McArthur said:
"This documentary has left the Justice Secretary and police leadership facing a series of difficult questions. I hope they would agree with me that allegations concerning the former Chief Constable are extremely serious.
"This report, along with the various drafts, iterations and requests from police bosses for changes, should be made available for public scrutiny.
"I understand that Police Scotland has sought public interest exemptions to avoid publishing these documents so far but people will wonder whether that stands up in the face of allegations of whitewashing.
"Michael Matheson revealed in Parliament this week that the report was never shared with the SPA or given to the Scottish Government. Given the alleged contents, I am sure they will be as keen to read it as the rest of us.
"Liberal Democrats have repeatedly exposed problems arising from the SNP’s botched centralisation of policing. The public would be horrified to think that someone was hitting the delete button to help maintain the pretence of SNP ministers that nothing was going wrong."