Under consideration PE1964: Create an independent review of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create an independent review of the SPSO, in order to:
- investigate complaints made against the SPSO;
- assess the quality of its work and decisions; and
- establish whether the current legislation governing the SPSO is fit for purpose.

Previous action taken

We have met Bob Doris, MSP and Sir Paul Grice (of the Scottish Parliament).

We have met the SPSO, presented evidence of what, in our view, were false statements and contradictions of statutory policy, evidence and witnesses. The SPSO states it can choose which evidence it uses.

In November 2014 the Public Petitions Committee suggested a review of the activity of the SPSO, but the Local Government and Regeneration Committee argued a review of their work was premature at that time.

Background information

Since its inception in 2002 there has been no independent oversight of the SPSO, despite mounting complaints against it. The SPSO has always investigated all complaints against itself.

Almost every online review gives it the lowest rating, with common themes of bias, illogical arguments and evidence being ignored or contradicted.

Cases handled by the SPSO include children harmed in schools or other settings, medical negligence, mistreatment of the elderly and those in prisons, wrongful dismissals and loss of business. They can be highly sensitive cases with serious implications for the individuals and families involved, and for communities if services are at fault and their failings continue unchecked.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 states:
“The procedure for conducting the investigation is to be such as the Ombudsman thinks fit.”

Based on our reading, the wording of the Act allows the SPSO to cherry-pick evidence, ignore witnesses and repeat the public body’s unsupported claims. The SPSO does not address why evidence of wrongdoing can be ignored.

The aim of this petition is to protect the public and improve the delivery of justice and public services in Scotland.

  • Created by Rachel Lowther on behalf of Accountability Scotland
  • Considered from 7 September 2022

This petition is now under consideration by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee

Find out about the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee’s discussion of this petition

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