Cleaning the stables
So we were a couple of days early on this one.
In fairness to the Scottish press, it’s had a lot of stuff to fit in recently.
But the story finally did appear in today’s Sunday Mail. It’s a bit grim.
But because there are still a handful of elected SNP representatives who AREN’T creepy corrupt sleazebags, the paper noted that eight of the party’s councillors have written to National Secretary Lorna Finn demanding that group leader Tracy Carragher be suspended pending an inquiry into her attempts to cover the matter up, allegedly on the orders of now-departed CEO Peter Murrell.
But we thought you might like to see the whole letter, as the Mail didn’t print it.
Lorna Finn, National Secretary
Kelly Parry, Local Government Convenor
Ian McCann, Compliance Manager
Anne Thomas, Assistant Business Manager
Heather Anderson ANC Convenor
& North Lanarkshire SNP Group
Dear Ms Finn, Mr McCann, Ms Parry, Ms Thomas, Ms Anderson & Group Members.
In support and solidarity with our anonymous colleague.
As the below-mentioned group of North Lanarkshire SNP Councillors, we are writing today to formally complain about the serious and continual failings implemented by the North Lanarkshire SNP Leadership Team and their frequent abuse of power bringing both the NLC SNP Group & Party name into disrepute.
We demand the immediate suspension of Cllrs T Carragher, R Sullivan and A Masterton to allow for a formal investigation to take place via rule 48, we further note the failure to adhere to group standing orders rules 4.e, 9, 10, Appendix 2 point 2 (Safeguarding) and the complete dereliction of duty and inability to abide by any aspect of the party’s policy on sexual harassment.
Having all seen the Sunday Mail newspaper article dated 12.03.23 (Front Cover, Page 4 and 5), it was reported that a Group Member had met the Leader Cllr T Carragher in August 2022 to lodge a formal complaint of sexual harassment involving Cllr J Linden. The victim highlights that Cllr Carragher was dismissive of the allegation and turned the member away to report the matter to HQ.
In February 2023 after being ignored, refused any credibility, and being freely exposed to the perpetrator in a variety of meeting settings, a formal complaint was raised to the National Secretary, Compliance Manager whilst CC’ing both Cllrs Sullivan and Masterton. The member shared these communications anonymously via email with the group on 15.03.23 in an attempt to highlight the contempt displayed by the Leader, HQ, the Business Manager, and Depute Leader.
To add further insult to injury Cllrs Carragher and Sullivan who would have been aware of the victim’s identity (and knowing whether he was in the room) denied any knowledge of the complaint at the Group Meeting held on 13.03.23.
In these communications shared by the victim, HQ makes no attempt to acknowledge the complaint, Cllr Sullivan does respond but fails in his duty of care (rule 10) by not following or progressing the subject with either the victim or HQ.
The Business manager made no attempt to safeguard the member immediately (Appendix 2 point 2) nor ensure any adequate or professional support. Cllr Masterton in his role of Depute Leader fails the victim further by not ensuring the complaint was being progressed.
Cllr Carragher & others have failed to protect and support a colleague making a serious allegation against another member and this adds to a long list of vexed decisions this Leadership Team has made since taking office in 2022.
1. Open discrimination against a registered Disabled Member.
2. Made false & malicious allegations against a member.
3. Failed to progress a Sexual Harassment case.
4. Abuse of power.
5. Deliberately misled the Group on multiple occasions.
Since taking up the role of Leader, Cllr Carragher and Cllr Sullivan as Group Business Manager, have been fixated on sowing division within the group, this is evidenced in their continual misleading of the group in matters pertaining to Cllr J Linden and the recent fabricated and malicious complaints presented against a colleague.
We are appalled that ‘safeguarding’ was used as the means to qualify the suspension of a sitting Councillor while in a serious disclosure of sexual harassment, ‘safeguarding’ was not considered as the appropriate action to ensure the protection and support of a victim.
The Leadership Team has deliberately failed every member of the Group who are now placed in the position of collective accountability, guilty by association and answerable to their respective electorate over the Leadership’s inactions.
As Cllr Linden has now resigned from the Council Group and from the party, no formal action can or will be taken against him, however, this should not preclude a formal investigation into the substantive complaint made by the victim.
In order to ensure group & public reassurance, we request under standing order 48, that Cllr Thomas, as Assistant Business Manager or another independently appointed individual, investigate the points cited in this communication and present the findings back to the group for consideration.
As the signed complainants and as concerned group members, we are bringing this to your attention for immediate action and we anticipate this will be treated with the seriousness & urgency that is required.
We await your prompt response,
Cllr Beth Baudo
Cllr Gerry Brennan
Cllr David Crichton
Cllr Paul Di Mascio
Cllr Greg Lennon
Cllr Barry McCluskey
Cllr Cameron McManus
We suppose we can’t entirely blame Cllr Carragher for being scared of taking any action against Linden. He might have sat on her.
The Mail also ran a story about Humza Yousaf being cleared of breaking the Ministerial Code with regard to the SNP leadership election. It so happens we have the full text of that complaint too, along with the full (rather brief) response from the Permanent Secretary (the job recently vacated by the unlamented Leslie Evans).
“Sent: 15 March 2023 09:00
To: Permanent Secretary <PermanentSecretary@gov.scot>
Subject: Complaint Re Humza Yousaf & Civil Servants/Special Advisors
Request for investigation into breaches of the Ministerial Code, Special Advisors Code and the Civil Service Code
Dear Permanent Secretary
I write to complain and call for an investigation into the apparent breach of the ministerial code and breach of impartiality rules by civil servants and/or special advisors.
This complaint refers to the attached clip which is Mr Yousaf’s response to Ash Regan MSP on a televised BBC election debate last night as part of the SNP leadership contest.
Under cross examination from Ms Regan in regards to voting during the passing of the Gender Recognition Reforms in December 2022, Mr Yousaf responded:
“Of course, eh, a, Ash was, of course my Junior Minister eh, when I was Justice Secretary and I’ve looked through the records and I can’t find any record of you (Ash Regan) ever raising this issue with me when, when I was Justice Secretary.“
This complaint refers to the specific claim by Mr Yousaf that he has “looked through the records… when I was Justice Secretary.”
Mr Yousaf is no longer Justice Secretary. Therefore evidently Mr Yousaf should not have access to departmental papers, minutes of meetings, exchanges between him and Ministers responsible to him or any other records from his time as Justice Secretary. Further, Mr Yousaf should not have retained records that are pertinent to the role of Justice Secretary when he ceased to be the Justice Secretary.
Mr Yousaf has used these Government records as a means to advance his candidacy in the SNP leadership contest.
It can therefore only be possible that either:
(a) that Mr Yousaf retained records that he was privileged to during his tenure as Justice Secretary which he then used for party political purposes/or;
(b) Scottish Government Special Advisors and/or Scottish Government Civil Servants have accessed records from Mr Yousaf’s period as Justice Secretary in order to use these records via the use of Government resources to assist Mr Yousaf’s Party Political leadership campaign.
Regardless of which of the above is correct, Mr Yousaf has breached the Ministerial code on numerous occasions.
Mr Yousaf is clear and unambiguous in his claim that he has “looked through the records” and that he “can’t find any record of…”
As you are aware, enforcing the Ministerial Code and management of Special Advisors is the responsibility of the First Minister, however due to the possibility of breaches committed by Civil Servants that are accountable to you, I am requesting that you open an investigation into the following Breaches of the Ministerial Code, the Code of Conduct for Special Advisors and the Civil Service Code.
Furthermore, as the current First Minister will shortly resign from office, added to members of her Government openly supporting Mr Yousaf in his bid in the SNP leadership contest, it is apparent to any reasonable person that the First Minister has a conflict of interest in carrying out her enforcement responsibilities in this instance.
Below I have listed 11 sections of the Ministerial Code that Mr Yousaf has breached:
1.3(i) Ministers must not use public resources for party political purposes;
(j) Ministers must uphold the political impartiality of the Civil Service and not ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code as set out in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.
2.4 The internal processes through which a Government decision has been made should not normally be disclosed.
2.5 In accordance with the principle of collective responsibility, it is important that Ministers and their staff preserve the privacy of Government business and protect the security of Government documents, subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (see also paragraphs 2.26 and 2.27).
2.26 Ministers have a personal responsibility to safeguard the integrity and confidentiality of Government business. Failure to maintain good security can cause damage to the interests and reputation of the Government and may prejudice the effective conduct of official business.
2.28 Ministers relinquishing office should hand back to their Private Office any Cabinet documents and/or other official papers in their possession.
Access by Former Ministers to Official Papers
2.29 By convention, and at the Government’s discretion, former Ministers are allowed reasonable access to official papers which they saw when they were in office. Such access is provided outwith the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and is limited to that Minister personally. Access is subject to compliance with the ‘Radcliffe Rules’ (see paragraph 10.14). The papers made available for inspection cannot be copied or taken away. The use made of those papers is limited by the need to ensure that the conventions about confidentiality of exchanges between Ministers, and civil servants’ advice to Ministers, are not breached. Approaches in these cases should be made in the first instance to the Permanent Secretary.
6.1 Ministers must uphold the political impartiality of the Civil Service, and not ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code
6.2 Ministers have a duty to:
(b) Uphold the political impartiality of the Civil Service, and not to ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code;
6.3 Ministers should not ask civil servants to engage in activities likely to call into question their political impartiality or to give rise to the criticism that official resources are being used for party political purposes.
7.3 Official facilities and resources may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political.
The Code of Conduct for Special Advisors has been breached in the following regard if Mr Yousaf was passed the records that he has stated he has access to from Special Advisors
5. But special advisers must not:
ask civil servants to do anything which is inconsistent with their obligations under the Civil Service Code or behave in a way which would be inconsistent with standards set by the Scottish Government;
10. Special advisers should act in a way which upholds the political impartiality of other civil servants. They should not use official resources for party political activity.
11. Special advisers should not disclose official information which has been communicated in confidence in government or received in confidence from others. The preparation or dissemination of inappropriate material or personal attacks has no part to play in the job of being a special adviser as it has no part to play in the conduct of public life. Any special adviser found to be disseminating inappropriate material will be subject to a disciplinary process that may include dismissal.
The Civil Service Code has been breached in the following regard if Mr Yousaf was passed the records that he has stated he has access to via the support of Civil Servants
15. You must not:
•act in a way that is determined by party political considerations, or use official resources for party political purposes;
In summary, it is clear that Government resources and Government Records have been used and/or accessed for party political purposes. This serious matter risks bringing the Government into disrepute and it is a clear risk to public confidence in regards to the political impartiality of the Civil Service.
I believe you have no option in these circumstances other than to launch an investigation into the numerous breaches of the ministerial and special advisor codes, and the potential breach of the Civil Service Code.
I look forward to your timely response.”
The response was certainly timely. But then there wasn’t much of it.
In the light of the Hate Crime Bill forced through by Humza Yousaf during his term as Justice Secretary, it’s reassuring to know that “turns of phrase” are apparently exempt from laws.
But we publish these documents mainly to remember that there are still people in the SNP who want the party cleaned up and restored to what it once was, before the grotesque events of the last few years. Members will have to decide for themselves which of the current leadership candidates is most likely to achieve such an outcome.