THE bullying allegations faced by Chief Constable Phil Gormley first surfaced in late July this year and now number a handful of separate claims.

The embattled police chief, who continues to collect a £214,000 salary, stepped aside in September after the third gross misconduct probe was launched and remains on gardening leave.

In Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has the responsibility for receiving and assessing all allegations.

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If the SPA considers that the claims amount to misconduct and decides that an allegation is to be investigated, it must refer the matter to the independent Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).

While Mr Gormley has been on special leave another two allegations have been brought to the SPA, although all investigations remain at different stages.

While there is no imminent prospect of a conclusion to the probes, it is understood that any one of the claims could lead to the Chief Constable’s dismissal – if proven true.

The first bullying allegation came from Superintendent Graham McInarlin, who worked in Mr Gormley’s staff office.

He made a complaint about the chief’s behaviour, which allegedly included shouting and swearing. The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner's office is still probing that claim.

A second bullying allegation was then made by Inspector Aimée Canavan, which is also under investigation by the PIRC.

A third PIRC bullying probe followed in September after a complaint by Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham.

Last month it emerged that a fourth bullying allegation had been made. The SPA decided not to refer the complaint, by principle analyst Lesley Bain, to the PIRC.

However, PIRC’S own investigation led to a fifth complainer being identified, and this has now been passed to the SPA who will make a decision on whether to refer the matter back to PIRC for a formal probe.

A spokeswoman for the SPA said the body would not comment on individual complaint or conduct matters.

She added: “Complaint and conduct matters are confidential and we do not comment on individual cases.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The position of the Chief Constable is a matter for the Scottish Police Authority.

“There is a statutory process in place which provides for independent investigation and consideration of such matters and it would be inappropriate to comment further.

“DCC Iain Livingstone has agreed to take charge on a temporary basis and has all the powers of the Chief Constable during this period of absence.”

Addressing the fifth complaint, a spokesman for the PIRC said: “Allegations of misconduct about a senior police officer made to the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) were forwarded to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) on 27 October 2017 to allow the Authority to conduct a preliminary assessment in terms of The Police Service of Scotland ( Senior Officers) (Conduct) Regulations 2013.”