RULES to help staff complain about Scottish Government ministers were pushed through following "a history of alleged bad behaviour", it has emerged.

Documents show updated measures were put in place to stop "ministers investigating ministers" in 2010 after trade unions raised concerns.

Minutes refer to "a history of alleged bad behaviour by ministers in the former Scottish Office/Scottish Executive and now Scottish Government".

Loading article content

The papers, dated November 2009, have only now been released under Freedom of Information.

They show union leaders threatened to take their concerns to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service if a new policy was not drawn up.

Notes from a “partnership board” meeting add: "If that occurs, control over the matter passes to an outside party which is potentially more difficult for ministers.

"Also, it is then likely that the press will become aware of the issue and take an active interest in it."

Documents state that officials approached Whitehall about their processes for dealing with allegations against ministers.

An updated "Fairness at Work" policy was drawn up in February 2010 in response to the concerns, setting out how complaints can be raised against ministers.

Emails show the Council of Scottish Government Unions (CSGU) then sought clarity as to what would happen if the case was against the First Minister. A final policy was drawn up in September 2010.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it had no information about the “alleged bad behaviour” that sparked the move.

She said: “It is in the interests of Scottish Government staff to ensure HR processes are in place to deal with staff grievances fairly and without prejudice.

“This requires thorough consultation involving HR, staff networks, trades unions and legal advisers.

“There is no place in the Scottish Government for harassment or bullying of any kind and we will continue to work in this area to ensure all colleagues are treated with dignity and respect.”