Members on public boards in Scotland are suffering bullying, harassment and disrespectful treatment in silence, according to the convener of the Standards Commission for Scotland.

Citing the ‘Me Too’ Movement, Kevin Dunion, is calling for them to speak up about abuses and breaches of ethical standards. Writing in the Herald today, he says: “If members join a body where making dismissive comments, talking down to other members or even mocking them in front of the full board is apparently tolerated, it can be difficult to take a stand. But they should do.”

Agenda: Reluctance on public body boards to complain is concerning

Mr Dunion is responsible for enforcing the code of standards for those in public office, such as councillors and the appointees in charge of bodies such as transport partnerships, national parks, health boards, and agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and SEPA.

While there are more than 1600 such public appointees in Scotland – outnumbering councillors – there are 15 times as many complaints to the Standards Commission about behaviour in councils as there are from board members.

Mr Dunion says it is possible there are fewer problems on boards, with less politicisation meaning they are more respectful. But in a survey carried out for the Commission, 16 per cent of board appointees said they had witnessed poor behaviour, including bullying, sexism and public mockery.

Meanwhile a quarter of members Scottish Health Boards and the Integration Joint Boards in charge of health and social care reported having witnessed breaches of the eihical code.

Mr Dunion said better training and awareness was needed so people felt able to complain. “If the #MeToo movement has taught us anything, it is that poor behaviour should not be tolerated or ignored,” he said.

Agenda: Reluctance on public body boards to complain is concerning