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Tuesday 22 June 2021

FDA welcomes Scottish Government commitment to independent complaints process

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The FDA has welcomed the Scottish Government's commitment to establishing an independent process for complaints about the behaviour of ministers and former ministers.

Responding to the Scottish Government’s announcement regarding its handling of harassment complaints, FDA National Officer for Scotland Allan Sampson pointed out that the FDA had been campaigning for this for years:

“The commitment to an independent process is a significant and historic step forward, as the Scottish Government is the first government to commit to implementing an independent process for complaints against ministers. The FDA has been at the forefront of this campaign, including giving evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry last year, and we have consistently argued that an independent process, free from political interference is the only effective and workable solution." 

As reported in the Herald and Civil Service World, Sampson described the announcement as "a victory for all those working in Scottish Government, particularly those who have spoken out and fought to make it a better place to work even at the expense of their own careers".

He also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the FDA's Scottish Government branch, who he said “have had the courage to keep calling for an independent process even throughout the extremely fraught and frenzied political atmosphere of the last few years".

In an interview with BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman also remarked that the commitment would help to address the cultural issues within Scottish Government around how ministers interact with civil servants and to move beyond the issues of the last few years: “This is about a critical working relationship between ministers and civil servants, that’s how you get good government.”

Allan Sampson also highlighted that, while the FDA looked forward to working with the Scottish Government on this, it was vital that the government recognised the hurt and loss of trust that had occurred. He said, "this not only applies to those who have spoken out at a considerable personal cost, but also those who have not felt able to raise their complaint and instead have suffered in silence. 

"The announcement today is a significant step forward to repairing that trust but Scottish Government need to realise how let down staff have felt, and must make the implementation of the process their number one priority. It is a fundamental right that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect at work." 

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