A leading trade unionist on the payroll of Police Scotland regularly breached force guidelines over a decade without anyone realising, a tribunal has heard.

George McIrvine, who was seconded as branch secretary of UNISON Police Staff Scotland, was sacked after it came to light that he had been attending certain Labour and trade union events without seeking permission.

It was claimed that Mr McIrvine, a serving Labour party councillor in Dundee, attended the events to further his own political career, while he was also accused of falsifying time sheets and taking on other paid work while off on sick leave.

However, the police civilian worker claimed that these events – such as a May Day rally and the election of a new Labour leader – were part of his seconded role as branch secretary and Labour link officer.

He was sacked in 2019 but has now raised an employment tribunal against the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) claiming he was unfairly dismissed and treated unfairly due to his trade union membership.

In a second day of evidence from Inspector Steven McKinnon, the officer who investigated the misconduct allegations, the tribunal heard that Mr McIrvine’s position was that he had attended the events on numerous occasions over the last ten years.

Solicitor Jay Lawson, representing Mr McIrvine, put it to the witness that his client was never told not to attend.

Mr McKinnon replied that Police Scotland staff were unaware of his attendance at the events and “never had the opportunity to discuss it”.

Mr Lawson added that a senior police HR official’s position was that he “wasn’t quite sure” what full-time seconded staff were doing at the trade union.

“Would you accept that that seems to be a failing on behalf of Police Scotland and HR, not the claimant?” he asked.

Mr McKinnon replied: “I don’t think it would be fair to criticise Police Scotland for not knowing what they didn’t know.”

Mr Lawson also asked: “Would you accept that it would be fairly strange for [HR] to have never had a request for ten years for him to attend an event?”

The witness replied: “They could state that they weren’t aware of Mr McIrvine’s attendance at these events and conferences.”

Mr McKinnon went on to explain that a Regulation Agreement was in place which made it clear that a request should be made to HR prior to attending events.

However, referring to the agreement, Mr Lawson asked: “Do you accept that this document doesn’t tell us what meetings the full time seconded member of staff can and cannot attend?”

Mr McKinnon replied: “It is not clear on that.”

The tribunal previously heard that the force introduced a new time sheet system in September 2017 for seconded trade union activists to record their activities. This was to be backdated.

Mr McKinnon was asked to look into Mr McIrvine’s log in July the following year after concerns were raised.

Mr Lawson put it to him that, as this was a new time sheet system, “there was greater chance for people to get filling it in wrong”.

Mr McKinnon agreed.

Mr Lawson also said that, as the events were recorded in the time sheets, there was “no attempt deceive” over the events Mr McIrvine attended.

The officer replied: “I don’t think there was an attempt to deceive but I think some of the events are entered incorrectly.”

The tribunal previously heard that Mr McKinnon reported that Mr McIrvine was using his position “to further his own political career by attending events and conferences that were not essential to his role or benefitting to his employer”.

He also claimed that there were other discrepancies with Mr McIrvine’s time sheets, including issues with travel times and the length of time he recorded at certain meetings.

The tribunal continues.