ONE of the new assistant chief constables at crisis-hit Police Scotland had responsibility for control rooms at the time of the infamous M9 tragedy. The incident saw police fail to follow up reports of a car accident which led to woman lying injured in her vehicle for nearly three days before she died.

Alan Speirs, who will enjoy a near £34,000 pay rise following his promotion, was the commander of the national division which failed to respond to the fatal car crash in July 2015 for three days. Spiers' pay rise in nearly £10,000 more than the average annual wage in the UK.

Lamara Bell lay injured for nearly 72 hours. She died in hospital four days after she was found while her partner, John Yuill, died at the scene.

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Separately, it is also understood that a serving police officer complained to the Crown Office last month about evidence Speirs gave to an employment tribunal.

However, Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, who recommended Speirs for promotion, said Speirs was "a very experienced and highly capable officer who has passed the Strategic Command Course and is therefore qualified to be a chief officer. I have absolute confidence in the leadership provided by all the officers and staff that serve in Police Scotland and the qualities, skills and experience that we collectively possess."

Police Scotland is in chaos after Chief Constable Phil Gormley was put on special leave over bullying allegations and ACC Bernie Higgins was separately suspended amid a range of criminal and misconduct claims.

Livingstone, who is standing in for Gormley, recommended fresh faces to the top tier, and the Scottish Police Authority appointed Speirs as a temporary ACC for Professionalism and Assurance.

However, force insiders alerted the Sunday Herald to Speirs’ past role commanding the C3 division, which is the shorthand for “contact, command and control”.

C3 has constantly been in the headlines since plans were first announced in 2013 to cut the number of control rooms across Scotland following the creation of the single force.

Unions believe job losses and poor morale are partly responsible for calls being mishandled and not being dealt with properly.

Speirs, who used to serve in Strathclyde Police, was in charge of C3 between late April 2015 to May 2016. In July 2015, it emerged that police failed to follow up the M9 crash report.

It is believed that the initial call had not been allocated correctly by the Bilston Glen control room. Within days, an unnamed civilian worker came forward saying that Bilston Glen was “chronically under-resourced” and claimed training for police officers who filled in was “brief and cursory”.

Stephen House, the then chief constable, announced his resignation within weeks and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the “dreadful failure” was her lowest moment in office.

In November 2015, a police inspectorate review into call-handling made 30 recommendations for reform in relation to C3.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Speirs, or that he is not qualified for the ACC post, but a police source said it is a “matter of fact” he led C3 at the time of the M9 tragedy.

Speirs became head of professional standards at Police Scotland after his stint in charge of the national division.

However Graeme Pearson, the former head of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency and an ex Labour MSP, said: “It was a poisoned chalice when Alan Speirs was put in charge of C3. He was just the guy who was holding the parcel when the music stopped. The main problems came from executive decisions, which were above his level. People like Speirs had to carry the burden of other people’s decisions.”

Meanwhile, police constable Andrew Reid has written to the Crown Office about a different matter relating to Speirs and other officers.

Reid took the force to a tribunal this year over alleged victimisation and several senior officers, including Speirs and Livingstone, were called as witnesses. His letter includes criticism of statements he said were made by Speirs at the tribunal.

A Crown Office spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the Crown Office are considering correspondence from Mr Reid, and a response will be issued in due course.”