Responding to the three reviews
This publication is a collective Scottish Government response to the three reports which were published in March 2021:
- The review of the Scottish Government procedure for handling harassment complaints involving current or former Ministers – the externally-led review by Laura Dunlop QC;
- The report by James Hamilton, Independent Adviser on the Scottish Ministerial Code, into the self-referral by the First Minister; and
- The report of the Committee on Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.
As the Deputy First Minister noted in his letter to the Committee Convener dated 24 March 2021, given the publication dates of the three reports, it was not possible for the Government to respond in full before the Parliamentary recess ahead of the election.
As would be expected, there is significant overlap in the focus and recommendations of all three reports. We have, therefore, decided to cover the key themes and findings of the three reports in one overarching Scottish Government response, setting out clearly the actions which we propose to take.
In a letter to the Committee Convener dated 16 March 2021, the Deputy First Minister undertook to consider the reports of the three reviews and work with the recognised trade unions to develop and publish an implementation plan.
The Annex to this response contains the implementation plan. This sets out the high-level actions and outcomes that the Scottish Government will take forward, with indicative timescales. Further detail of implementation will be designed in partnership with our trade unions and others, drawing in appropriate evidence and expertise. These are important issues and there will be no unnecessary delay. However, it will not be rushed. The Committee’s report was critical of the fast pace at which the original procedure was developed. The Scottish Government will take the time needed to ensure procedures and policies are robust and effective, and are understood and trusted by staff. This approach has been agreed with the trade unions. We continue to work with trade union colleagues, using our published procedures and informed by the learning set out here, to ensure that any concerns raised by staff now can be addressed appropriately while we develop a new external procedure.