26 September 2023

SCOTLAND: Retiring PS head snubs MPs

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Scotland’s exiting head of the Public Service, Leslie Evans, currently on three months paid leave before retirement, has sparked anger when she refused to appear before the Edinburgh Parliament’s Finance Committee.

In a statement, the committee said it was “extremely disappointed at the discourtesy shown” over her “failure to engage”.

Ms Evans (pictured) has been blamed for many of the errors made during the botched 2018 Scottish Government investigation into harassment claims against former First Minister, Alex Salmond.

The mistakes cost taxpayers more than £500,000 ($A885,100) after a judge ruled the investigation had been “unlawful and tainted by apparent bias”.

A cross-party Parliamentary Committee last year concluded that an “individual failing” by Ms Evans played an instrumental part in the debacle.

In October she was invited to give evidence on her time in the role to the Finance Committee, but a letter sent last week from the Office of the Permanent Secretary said she was “effectively no longer a post-holder within the Scottish Government and is not able to speak on behalf of or represent the views of Ministers”.

Ms Evans does not officially retire until the end of this month (March) but is on three months leave, which a Government spokesperson said was due to outstanding holidays.

“Leslie Evans left the role of Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government on 31 December, 2021 and is taking outstanding annual leave ahead of retiring from the Civil Service on 31 March, 2022,” the spokesperson said.

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Alex Cole-Hamilton said Ms Evans was picking up “a huge salary and a vast pension”.

“The bare minimum that we should expect of her is to spend an hour or two taking questions from Parliamentarians about how Government functions and how it can be improved,” Mr Cole-Hamilton said.

As Scotland’s most senior Public Servant, Ms Evans earnt more than £170,000 ($A301,000) a year. Her pension will be an estimated £245,000 ($A433,700) lump sum and up to £85,000 ($A150,500) a year.

Edinburgh, 16 March 2022

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