Fresh review by outside force ordered by Police Scotland into misconduct at the SCDEA

Police Scotland have asked an external force to examine “unsatisfactory and unprofessional” conduct by a now defunct undercover policing unit.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone revealed he has asked for a peer review of the actions allegedly carried out at the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency in 2011.

He said that while he was “entirely satisfied” that a review of the SCDEA by an in-house team was “robust and appropriate”, he understands that public confidence in covert policing is vital.

The policing chief said he would ensure the force would take further action if the probe finds any further lines of enquiry or recommendations.

The misconduct was revealed by a former employee of the SCDEA who claimed she was frozen out of the job after raising concerns about the actions within the unit.

She raised a civil court action against her former bosses and told how she had discovered concerning documents in a covert mailbox which was operated by a fellow sergeant.

The woman, known as Mrs K, told a senior officer of her concerns before going back to a premises she had been using as office which she discovered it had been ransacked.

The former Grampian officer, who was seconded to the covert unit, also told how she and a colleague were told to buy a garden incinerator and petrol to destroy documents.

An internal investigation was launched where the woman was questioned by detectives over two and half days which left her feeling “degraded”.

She was then told she was being suspended from her role as an undercover operative and moved to work in witness protection.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Lord Brailsford ruled in the woman’s favour after she raised the action against former Chief Constable Sir Stephen House.

It is understood that lawyers for Police Scotland are appealing the decision.

The SCDEA no longer exists as it was incorporated into Police Scotland, which replaced the former eight-force model in April 2013.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone will update the Scottish Police Authority on the latest probe at a meeting in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

In a report, he said: “It is clear that the events which took place in the legacy SCDEA in 2011, as described in the civil action, were wholly unsatisfactory and unprofessional.

“I have now considered Police Scotland Review Team’s conclusions and recommendations. “While I am entirely satisfied that the review was a thorough, robust and appropriate response, I recognise the legitimate interest that exists about what took place in 2011, and the importance of public confidence in the vital area of covert policing.

“To that end, I have requested that an external force, which has significant knowledge and experience in the area of covert policing, carry out a peer review to provide independent assurance.

“The purpose of this independent peer review is to ensure all legitimate enquiries have been carried out, and to identify whether there are any further lines of investigation which should be pursued.

“On completion and receipt of the peer review, I will determine what steps, if any, are required to ensure the integrity of the Police Scotland response and provide further public reassurance over this episode.”