The Civil Service in Scotland
Awareness of operational working relationships between the Scottish Government and the Civil Service in Scotland is necessary to fully understand the complexities that contributed to the scandal that engulfed both entities at the time the SNP government decided on the political and personal destruction of Alex Salmond.
Responsibility for the governance of the Civil Service in Scotland is not devolved. It is accountable for its actions, through the permanent Secretary of the Civil Service in Scotland to the Head of the Civil Service at Westminster. That person is presently the Head of the Westminster Governments Cabinet office.
Leslie Evans, who headed the Civil Service in Scotland reported to the First Minister of Scotland ensuring the provision of efficient service support to Scottish government ministers, at all times scrupulously adhering to the rules and regulations for the Civil Service enshrined by laws put in place by the government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at Westminster. It follows therefore that rules governing the conduct and discipline of civil servants could only be amended with the authority of the government at Westminster.
Contact with the Cabinet Office at Westminster is gifted to the Permanent Secretary in Scotland and the proposed revisions to the Civil Service procedures were referred to the Cabinet Secretary at Westminster for final approval. On or about 17 Nov 2017, authority was denied, it being the view of the Cabinet Office that the proposed changes were ill-conceived, unworkable and a danger to democracy.
Evans was caught between a rock and a hard place nearing retirement, with a damehood and place in the lords in jeopardy. But she was accountable to the Cabinet Secretary at Westminster and it appears she choose to comply with the instruction from the Cabinet Office and consigned the proposed changes on the back burner. An opportunity for political mischief was also not lost on the Cabinet Office who presumably advised Evans to protect herself and the Westminster Government by ensuring Sturgeon’s orders would be put to her in writing.
And, as anticipated the Sturgeon the “GWOAT” and leader of the WOKE movement would not be denied and demanded action. On 22 Nov 2017 she sent a “letter of instruction” to Evans which read:
“As is clear from the continued media focus on cases of sexual harassment, in many instances, people are now making complaints regarding actions that took place some time ago. I wanted to make clear that in taking forward your review, and the new arrangements being developed, you should not be constrained by the passage of time. I would like you to consider ways in which we are able to address if necessary any concerns from staff, should any be raised, about the conduct of current Scottish Government ministers and also former ministers, including from previous administrations regardless of party. While I appreciate that the conduct of former Ministers would not be covered by the current Ministerial Code, I think it fair and reasonable that any complaints raised about their actions while they held office are considered against the standards expected of Ministers. I would be grateful for confirmation that this particular aspect is being included as part of the review you are leading.”
For those who are not yet familiar with the sequence of events leading up to Sturgeon “signing off” the “revised” complaints procedures and after. An eminent Scottish judge ordered the immediate withdrawal of the ill conceived and badly drafted procedures that had clearly been put in place with political malice aforethought and awarded payment of Alex Salmond’s court and other costs (in excess of £600k).
Reinforcing the views of many Scots that Alex Salmond had been fitted up. The response from the Scottish government/head of the Civil Service was a statement that was crass in the extreme: “We might have lost a battle but the war goes on”.