Frequently Asked Questions



Q: Does the Commissioner work with other bodies?

A: The following protcols were set up with the Chief Investigating Officer. They continue to be relevant to the work of the Commissioner.

1.Protocol between the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, the Chief Investigating Officer and the Standards Commission for Scotland.

2.Protocol between the Accounts Commission for Scotland and the Controller of Audit and the Auditor General for Scotland and the Standards Commission for Scotland and the Chief Investigating Officer.


Q: How can someone appeal a decision by the Commissioner?

A: It may help to explain that:

  • in terms of a decision of no breach by the Commissioner, the decision is final and there is no right of appeal. Ultimately, it is for the Commissioner to decide whether, when and how to carry out any investigation;
  • in terms of a decision of breach in respect of MSPs, the Scottish Parliament makes the final decision;
  • in terms of a decision of breach in respect of councillors or members of devolved public bodies (which would follow a hearing before the Standards Commission for Scotland) an appeal – in such a case – is to the Sheriff Principal then the Court of Session.

Q: How can someone complain about the Commissioner or his staff?

A: Information is available in how to make a complaint about us and how we handle complaints about us.


Q: How do I make a complaint about a member of a devolved public body, a councillor or an MSP?

A:  

The information is available in our Complaint Leaflet.


Q: How does the Commissioner publish a decision?

A:  

This depends upon who the complaint was made against. Information is available in our Complaint Leaflet under the section "How we investigate and decide your complaint".


Q: What happens when the Commissioner receives a complaint?

A:  

The information is available in our Complaint Leaflet under the section "How we deal with your Complaint (an overview)". More detailed information can be found in our Investigation Procedures: councillors and members of devolved public bodies and Investigation Procedures: MSPs.


Q: What is the background to the Commissioner?

A: Further information about the background to the Commissioner can be found here.


Q: What type of misconduct can we investigate?

A:  

The information is available in our Complaint Leaflet under the section "What we can and cannot investigate".


Q: Where can I get a copy of the Codes of Conduct?

A: The Codes of Conduct for councillors, members of devolved public bodies and MSPs can be accessed from our links page.


Q: Who dealt with complaints prior to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards?

A: The Public Services Reform (Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland etc.) Order 2013 came into force on 1 July 2013. The Order created the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life. Prior to that, complaints and investigations were dealt with under separate legislation as follows:

The 2013 Order dissolved the Commission for Ethical Standards and abolished the posts of Public Standards Commissioner and Public Appointments Commissioner. The Commission and those posts had, on 1 April 2011, been created by the Scottish Parliamentary Commissions and Commissioners etc. Act 2010. The 2010 Act brought together the functions of the Chief Investigating Officer, the Commissioner for Public Appointments and the Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

Councillors or members of devolved public bodies – The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 set out the powers of the Chief Investigating Officer and of the Standards Commission for Scotland.

The Chief Investigating Officer and the Standards Commission were two separate legal bodies. The Chief Investigating Officer had responsibility to investigate alleged breaches of the Codes of Conduct by members of devolved public bodies and the Councillors’ Code of Conduct by councillors after 1 May 2003 and deciding whether to report the outcome of any investigation to the Standards Commission.

The Standards Commission had the adjudicatory function of deciding, following a hearing, whether there has been a breach. The Standards Commission also had responsibility for issuing general guidance in relation to the Codes. The remit of the Standards Commission for Scotland, as from 1 April 2011, is outlined on their web-site www.standardscommissionscotland.org.uk.

MSPs – The Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner investigated complaints that an MSP had broken the Code of Conduct for MSPs. Investigations were independent of Parliament and he reported his findings to Parliament, but within a set of rules laid down in an Act of Parliament, the Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Act 2002.