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Leslie Evans – a back door exit with a “wheen” of taxpayers money – and her near £10,000 lump sum payment in lieu of untaken leave bordered on the nefarious

Civil Service Annual Leave policy

The Civil Service annual leave allocation of 30 days supports employee choice and helps them enjoy a good quality of life, work-life balance.

Employees whose employment ends during their leave year, will be entitled to a proportion of their annual leave entitlement calculated from the beginning of their leave year, (April) to the last day of service.

Where the last day of service is known well in advance, employees are required to take outstanding leave before the last day of service. Payment in lieu of untaken leave will be made, only when an employee has been specifically prevented from taking leave by management.

Employees have a responsibility to ensure they take their full annual leave entitlement each year (all employees are required to take at least 20 days’ paid leave annually, including two weeks leave during the summer months.

Employees should take annual leave within their leave year. Managers have a duty of care to ensure they do. Employees may apply to carry over some of their annual leave entitlement from one leave year and are required to take it during the next leave year. For full-time employees, managers may approve carrying forward leave of up to ten days for employees who are entitled to 30 days leave. These limits also apply to employees who have been prevented from taking leave on the specific request of management.

Leslie Evans Terms of Exit From the Civil Service Shrouded in Mystery

Evans last day in St Andrews House was on 31 December 2022 but she remained in employment until the end of March, taking three months of “paid accrued leave annual leave”.

Comment: An impossible calculation given the rules applicable to leave entitlement and attaching conditions. In effect she benefitted financially from 3 months paid “gardening leave”.

A FOI request later revealed that Evans had received an additional payment for 19.5 days of annual leave that she had not taken. On her £175,000 a year salary, that would be worth around £13,000.

Comment: Another impossible calculation given the rules state that employees are required to take at least 20 days leave in the year including 2 weeks in the summer. In any event the 19.5 days if genuine, should have been subsumed into the “gardening leave

The Controversial Compensation Payment

Business appointment rules governing the conduct of ministers, special advisers and senior civil servants as they leave government, state that Permanent Secretaries are “subject to a minimum waiting period of three months between leaving paid Civil Service employment and taking up an outside appointment or employment” because “of their role at the highest level of Government, and their access to a wide range of sensitive information.” The rules add that it “may be appropriate to continue to pay former civil servants, including special advisers, who are required to observe a waiting period before taking up an external role.”

It is not known how much compensation Ms Evans was paid, but it was agreed “subject to consultation” with the UK Government’s Cabinet Office. However, details of payments, released under Freedom of Information, reveal that Ms Evans was then “compensated” to cover a separate “three-month unpaid waiting period.”

The Seven Controversial Years of Evans

Evans was a key figure in the Alex Salmond affair, overseeing the disastrous internal probe into sexual misconduct claims against the former First Minister. Alex successfully challenged the process in a judicial review, showing that it had been “tainted by apparent bias” as the Investigating Officer had prior contact with one of the women who had complained about him. That resulted in the Court of Session ordering the Government to pay him £512,000 in costs.

An investigation by a Holyrood committee into the unlawful probe singled out Ms Evans for criticism, saying that she was one of only a “few people who had been aware of the prior contact of the Investigating Officer”. And despite that, she had prolonged the court case by not telling the Government’s lawyers. MSPs on the committee said this “individual failing” was “as significant as the general corporate failing.” Despite the blunders on her watch, First Minister Sturgeon stood by Evans throughout and refused to sack her.

Evans’s three months “gardening leave” were only discovered when she was invited by Holyrood’s Finance Committee to share reflections and insights into her role working for the government.
She was repeatedly reassured that the committee did not want to re-run the Salmond affair or revisit events examined by a previous Holyrood inquiry into it. However, in March, the Office of the Permanent Secretary wrote to the committee refusing on her behalf, letting the MSPs know that as Ms Evans was on leave she was “effectively no longer a post-holder within the Scottish Government and is not able to speak on behalf of or represent the views of Scottish Ministers”. The SNP committee convener Kenny Gibson accused Ms Evans of “discourtesy.”

A spokesman for Alex Salmond told The Herald on Sunday: “The Parliamentary Committee unanimously found that Leslie Evans as Permanent Secretary was not just corporately but personally responsible for the ‘prolonged, expensive and unsuccessful defence’ of the Judicial Review of her procedure which the Court of Session found to be ‘unlawful’, ‘unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’. The Committee said that those responsible should be held ‘accountable’. However, instead of asking for her resignation, the Scottish Government seems to have afforded her every possible financial advantage on her retirement. The question is why?”

Evans left the Civil Service with a lump sum of £245,000. An annual pension of £85,000. A reputed £45,000 compensation payment and £9,500 pay in lieu of leave.