RUTH Marr is correct that Justice Secretary Michael Matheson would have been damned for intervening in the issue of former Chief Constable Phil Gormley and damned if he didn’t (Letters, February 10).

But the belief that the SNP Government can do no wrong blinds one to what we should really be concerned about.We should not have a single police force which is vulnerable to direct central political interference in the first place. It is bad for democratic control.

And by that I don’t mean the control by the political party that has the most but neither a majority of parliamentary seats nor of the popular vote. I mean the control of the local areas in which the police operate.

As with so much else in modern Scotland, power over the police is centralised in Edinburgh where the SNP thinks it knows what is best for us. Mr Matheson interfered in the decision of the Scottish Police Authority to restore Mr Gormley.

Whether he did so lawfully we will never know as minutes were not taken. One of his staff then sought to influence the issue of a report by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, lest it impact on the issue of Mr Gormley, such that she upbraided him for interfering in her independence.

Mr Matheson’s predecessor, Kenny MacAskill, with the support, if not at the behest, of Police Scotland, was intent on abolishing the need for corroboration evidence, one of the strongest bulwarks of the Scottish legal system against miscarriages of justice by the state.

Just how much easier would that have made the job of the police and prosecution services on behalf of the state in securing convictions? Do not think for a moment that the failure of police and prosecution to disclose evidence exculpating the accused is always just accidental or can be limited to England.

Only after vociferous opposition and independent review did the SNP Government execute a humiliating U-turn.

Policing the population has to be by consent and is far too important an issue to be left in the hands of the police themselves and certainly not the central government of the day.

And what of Mr Gormley? What justice does he receive? Or is his merely being English sufficient to justify his being effectively forced into resignation as a neat way to close this sorry affair?

Alasdair Sampson,


The Pines,

7A Loudon Street,


NOTHING changes much in the contributions from Dr Gerald Edwards (Letters, February 10). He expresses yet another anti-SNP view, this time concerning the Police Scotland and Phil Gormley saga. It seems to me that this time consuming affair, which increasingly takes up valuable question time at Holyrood, has gone on too long.

It might be better to stop the continual attacks on the police service and allow some space and time for Scottish Police Authority chairwoman Susan Deacon (is it really a coincidence that Mr Gormley resigned so soon after her relatively recent appointment?) to do her job and for her to hold any newly appointed chief constable to account for the policing of Scotland as I, for one, have every confidence that she will do so.

John S Milligan,

86 Irvine Road, Kilmarnock.