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Police watchdog chief accused of bullying by former board member

Moi Ali told Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee that Andrew Flanagan is not fit to continue in his role at the Scottish Police Authority.

A former board member of Scotland’s police watchdog has accused its chairman of bullying her.

Moi Ali also told Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee that Andrew Flanagan is not fit to continue in the role at the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

Ms Ali resigned from the SPA board after raising concerns over transparency at the organisation.

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Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley (right) with Andrew Flanagan, Chairman of the Scottish Police Authority (Andrew Milligan/PA)

She publicly objected to proposals to hold committee meetings in private, only to receive a letter from Mr Flanagan expressing his dissatisfaction and suggesting it would not be fair for her to continue to attend committee meetings.

Ms Ali, who quit the board shortly afterwards, told MSPs she did not believe such a letter would have been sent to a man.

A spokeswoman for the SPA said Mr Flanagan rejected the bullying claim.

In an opening statement to MSPs, Ms Ali said: “My removal from committees was, in my view, straightforward punishment for speaking out.”

Asked by Labour MSP Monica Lennon if Mr Flanagan’s letter amounted to bullying, Ms Ali said: “Yes. I believe that it did.

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Labour MSP Monica Lennon (Mark Runnacles/PA)

“A good leader, if he had any concerns, would surely speak to an individual. I think all of us would do that. To write a letter of that nature, it’s hard to find another word to what it amounts to.”

She added: “It’s been a really horrendous experience.”

Asked if she believed Mr Flanagan would have sent the same letter to a man, Ms Ali said: “No, I don’t think he would.

“It’s interesting because after I received it, I spoke to (fellow board member) Iain Whyte because he expressed very similar views to me at that board meeting, the only difference was that he didn’t ask for his to be minuted.

“I asked Mr Whyte if he had received a similar letter and he said no, he hadn’t’.”

Asked if she thought Mr Flanagan was fit to continue as chair, Ms Ali said: “I am afraid I don’t.

“I think he is actually not fit to continue on any public board because he clearly does not observe public-sector values.”

A spokeswoman for the SPA said: “Moi Ali tendered her resignation from the board of the SPA and her reasons are documented and publicly available – at no point was bullying alleged and the chair rejects this suggestion.”

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