PE01843: Review the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland

People Communities

Petitioner: Ewen Cameron


Date Lodged: 23 December 2020

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to review and consider revision of the governance, accountability and integrity of the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (CESPLS), and ensure it adheres to the 7 principles of public life as stipulated in the "Nolan principles": Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty, Leadership.

Petition History:


13 January 2021: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. Link to Official Report of Meeting 13 January 2021

10 March 2021: The Committee agreed to close the petition under Rule 15.7 of Standing Orders on the basis that the Commissioner is not subject to the direction or control of any member of the Parliament, the Scottish Government, or the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) - a statutory provision to protect her independence, there are procedures in place for the Commissioner to submit to Parliament an annual general report on the activities of her office and a strategic plan every four years, and the SPCB has no plans to ask the Scottish Government to review the role of the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland. Link to Official Report of Meeting 10 March 2021

Written submissions

Do you agree the governance, accountability and integrity of CESPLS should be reviewed?

Have you had any issues with the CESPLS?

I am related to the petitioner and have partial knowledge of some of the petitioners concerns. The details of what led up to this petition being seen as necessary unfolded over many years and had started as an obviously personal issue over a matter of civil law. But it became increasingly obvious that a pattern was developing in a much wider sense and across different, but not totally unconnected government agencies. I firmly believe that there is a systemic problem here, completely unrelated to the petitioners original case. The advice to submit a petition came from an MSP, Brian Whittle. The system appears to allow individuals within departments to make professional judgements about colleagues to whom they could subsequently be dependent on for a professional reference. Quite apart from the obvious concerns this gives any complainant, it is surely completely unfair to put any individual employee in such a professionally uncomfortable situation. The petition rules make it not permissible to name a previous MSP who was crucially involved in making representations that could have avoided the need for a petition in the first place. It is seriously worrying when an official figure with considerable authority makes inquiries and reports, in writing, his conclusion that the petitioner has a “compelling case” but that the agencies being complained about would “do nothing more than circle the wagons” and that in any case the mere mention of the petitioners name “frightened them off”. It is surely worrying when a government agency has the confidence to state that they have done something when it can be unarguably shown from written evidence that they have not. And unilaterally then close that particular issue down. It is surely wrong that a government agency can withhold data that “is normally shared”. I do hope the essence of this petition is truly understood by those who have the power to improve the system of justice in Scotland.

Douglas Cameron

11:55 on 07 Jan 2021

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