THE former chair of Police Scotland’s oversight body is to tell MSPs his side of the story in the row over the country’s Chief Constable.

Andrew Flanagan, who was head of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) board until December, will give evidence to Holyrood’s public audit committee on January 25.

The SPA’s former chief executive, John Foley, and current board members Nicola Marchant and David have also been confirmed as a witnesses.

In a potentially explosive session, the committee is expected to ask about a disputed meeting last November between Mr Flanagan and Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

The two men discussed the future of Chief Constable Phil Gormley, who has been on special leave since September, following complaints of bullying and misconduct against him.

On November 7, Mr Flanagan and the SPA board agreed unanimously that Mr Flanagan should be allowed to return to duty despite an ongoing bullying probe.

On November 9, just a day before Mr Gormley was due back at his desk, Mr Flanagan told Mr Matheson of the board’s decision and Mr Matheson urged the SPA to “reconsider”.

Mr Flanagan subsequently told Mr Gormley, who was at that point en route from his house in Norfolk to Scotland, to turn around and go back home.

Mr Gormley’s lawyer claims Mr Matheson had no lawful basis to intervene given the SPA is supposed to be autonomous in order to avoid political interference in policing.

Accused of exceeding his powers, the Justice Secretary this week insisted to MSPs that he had not over-ruled the SPA, but admitted asking for a rethink of a flawed process.

He pointed out the SPA had not checked with the independent investigation whether it would be sensible for Mr Gormley to return, had no idea how staff who had complained about him could be protected, and had not even told the deputy Chief Constable of the plan.

He told Holyrood on Wednesday: “I took the view that these clear deficiencies in the process were completely unacceptable.

“I made clear to the former Chair that I could not have confidence in a decision that had been reached without such significant issues having been properly addressed.

“The former Chair agreed that, before proceeding further, the SPA would carry out more engagement with the relevant persons, which I welcomed.”

Mr Matheson subsequently offered to release minutes of the meeting, only for his officials to claim no minutes were taken, prompting opposition claims of a cover-up.

Former Justice Secretary Kenneth MacAskill has called on Mr Gormley to leave “for the good of the service” and let his acting replacement, Iain Livingstone, take over.