POLICE Scotland is embroiled in a secrecy row after it blacked out the details of the chief constable’s financial interests.
The force’s decision means it is impossible to know if Phil Gormley has any business ties outside of policing.
John Finnie, a Scottish Greens MSP and a former policeman, called on the decision to be reconsidered.
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Submitting a register of interests that is available for inspection is a basic element of public sector transparency.
MSPs, MPs, MEPs and councillors are required to produce a detailed list, as are board members of quangos and public agencies.
A key part of this ethics check is financial openness, such as declaring directorships and shareholdings.
The Police Scotland Executive – whose members include police chiefs – also have to submit an internal declaration on public appointments, political activity, gifts and hospitality and potential conflicts of interest.
So-called “financial and business” interests also have be to registered, including sub-categories such as “financial”, “shares and securities”, “house, land and buildings”, and matters relating to family members,
However, although the force has released a copy of Gormley’s register, the “financial” section has been redacted.
He signed the document on June 13th – six months into his term as chief constable.
According to Police Scotland, disclosure would not be justified:
“Whilst officers of this seniority are in the public eye, there is also has to be a balance of what is disclosed as these individuals are entitled to a private life and should be able to carry out their daily lives without interference.
“Further, family members have the right to remain outwith the public eye and not directly linked with a senior member of staff.”
Since January 1 last year, 12 registers of interests relating to chiefs have been submitted.
Gormley was the only chief officer to declare financial interests, but the details are being kept from the public.
Finnie said: “The public have a right to know of any potential conflicts of interests that senior public figures or elected politicians may have and it is for that reasons we all complete a register of interests.
“Scotland wants to be a progressive, open and transparent nation and it’s only right that our chief constable, a senior public servant, falls into line with others and publishes unabridged information, including any share holdings, directorships or related financial interests.
“I would urge Mr Gormley to reconsider withholding any legitimate information from those he’s charged with serving.”
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “At a time when Police Scotland is dealing with budget constraints that are effecting frontline services, Police Scotland shouldn’t allow the chief constable’s ‘financial’ interests to become a distraction. Senior figures in public sector organisations have to submit a public register of interest, the chief constable should do the same and get on with the job.”
A force spokesperson said: “The information which has been redacted is considered personal and the appropriate FOI exemption has been applied. This is not just in relation to the chief constable but all members of the force executive where a redaction has been made.”
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that the chief constable will continue to live in a castle owned by the Government while he is in post.
Gormley, who took over at Police Scotland after a lengthy career south of the border, was based at Tulliallan College – home to the Scottish Police College – during his initial relocation.
However, the arrangement will continue and, from August 1, he will pay an “appropriate market rental rate” and council tax.
The residence used to be occupied by the director of the Police College and is separate from the rooms used by police cadets.