Annex 3: withdrawal of sponsored body accountable officer status
1. Circumstances leading to the withdrawal of a sponsored body Accountable Officer status are likely to be ones in which the sponsored body would also wish to take disciplinary action which may lead to dismissal of the individual concerned. There may be circumstances in which the sponsored body might take the initial decision to suspend the Accountable Officer, with suspension or withdrawal of Accountable Officer status following. Where the sponsored body consults the Scottish Government (SG) first and then takes the appropriate investigative and disciplinary action (including prompt suspension if necessary), separate action by the SG to consider withdrawal of Accountable Officer status will not be required. Where separate action is needed the following procedures will be followed.
2. Although the relationship between the Principal Accountable Officer and the sponsored body Accountable Officer is governed by public rather than employment law, the Principal Accountable Officer has a duty to act fairly and rationally when making a determination which affects the sponsored body Accountable Officer, notably as to their continued employment. If the loss of Accountable Officer status leads to dismissal, the dismissing employer will need to show, as a matter of employment law, that they acted reasonably in all the circumstances and these may include the fairness of any decision to remove that status.
3. If a sponsored body is considering the suspension of its Accountable Officer, they should consult their finance and internal audit committees.
4. If the relevant Portfolio Accountable Officer is considering recommending the withdrawal of sponsored body Accountable Officer status to the Principal Accountable Officer they should normally:
- advise the sponsored body Accountable Officer and the chair of the board of the sponsored body immediately of the concern, the procedures that will be followed and the possible consequences - the chair should be informed of all subsequent developments
- if the allegations are sufficiently serious to require the suspension of the sponsored body Accountable Officer, work closely with the board of the sponsored body to identify a temporary replacement - the final decision on the designation, however, rests with the Principal Accountable Officer
- instruct the sponsor unit in the Scottish Government to arrange an initial investigation - the sponsored body Accountable Officer has the right to legal or trade union representation
- allow the sponsored body Accountable Officer the opportunity to comment on the results of the initial investigation
- inform the chairman of the results of the initial investigation and the sponsored body Accountable Officer's response, and allow them the opportunity to comment on them
- consider all the evidence, advise the chair of the probable decision, and take account of any representations they may make
- formally advise the sponsored body Accountable Officer, and the chair, of the decision
5. The Portfolio Accountable Officer might wish to draw the attention of other Portfolio Accountable Officers to what has taken place, but should not otherwise discuss the case publicly.
Page reviewed December 2022