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No disciplinary action after Holyrood Inquiry

25/11/2004

There is to be no disciplinary action against individual civil servants involved in the Holyrood project, Executive Permanent Secretary John Elvidge said today.

Mr Elvidge announced his decision after considering the report by an independent Civil Service Commissioner into issues arising from Lord Fraser's Holyrood Inquiry.

Mr Elvidge said:

"When the Holyrood Inquiry report was published in September, I noted the significant actions we have already taken to improve the procedures and culture within the Scottish Executive since 1999, but that we would also learn any further lessons from Lord Fraser's report.

"I therefore asked for an independent Civil Service Commissioner to advise me on what action I should consider in light of the Report, including whether there was a prima facie case for disciplinary proceedings against any individual Scottish Executive civil servant up to June 1999, when responsibility for the project passed to the Scottish Parliament.

"I am grateful to the Commissioner appointed, Mr Alistair Macdonald, for his impartial advice. Having reviewed Lord Fraser's Report and related documents, the Commissioner has not found evidence of misconduct which should cause me to consider disciplinary proceedings against any individual civil servant.

"Whilst the Commissioner has expressed concern about the decision not to advise Ministers in the spring of 1999 about the 'risk factors' identified by professional cost consultants, he considers that officials acted in good faith on this issue.

"I accept the Commissioner's advice on these matters.

"I also asked the Commissioner to consider whether there were wider lessons from Lord Fraser's Inquiry which I should consider to further improve management policy within the Executive.

"Mr Macdonald has acknowledged the actions we have already taken within the Executive and the lessons we have learned from Lord Fraser's report, as set out in the speech by the Minister for Finance and Public Services to Parliament on September 22.

"The Commissioner identifies a number of issues for me to consider including:

  • the potential to enhance the role of top management within the Executive on decisions about project structure and personnel
  • how we further extend good practice on project management
  • how we improve the training of senior civil servants in business principles and financial management
  • ensuring that project teams have the appropriate mix of skills, including external expertise if appropriate, and professional advice as projects develop over time

"We have action in hand relevant to all these issues and I will consider whether we need to strengthen that action in light of the Commissioner's advice.

"Given the significant public concern, it was right that I should seek independent advice on the issues raised in Lord Fraser's Report.

The Commissioner's advice confirms the need for us now to look forward and to build on the improvements we have already made to our procedures and culture within the Scottish Executive to benefit the people of Scotland."