MSPs praise government over bullying case action

Image caption,
Holyrood's audit committee has been looking into public sector pay-offs

The government has been praised for taking action to remove the boss of a key mental health agency, after complaints of bullying.

Eileen Davie quit as president of the Mental Health Tribunal in Scotland in October 2008, after a disciplinary committee found against her.

It stopped short of ordering her dismissal, but ministers stepped in to negotiate a deal for her to go.

Holyrood's audit committee said it put the duty of care to staff first.

Its conclusion came as part of an on-going investigation into public sector pay-offs.

The cross-party committee also recently raised concern that the head of government agency Transport Scotland was paid an extra £30,000 to leave his job early.

Extra costs

Ms Davie was appointed in 2005 as president of the Mental Health Tribunal in Scotland, which deals with making decisions on the compulsory care and treatment of people with mental disorders.

A disciplinary hearing investigating later made a series of findings against her in relation to intimidating conduct, bullying and behaviour associated with harassment.

Ms Davie continued to draw her £159,000 salary without being available for work for about a year.

The hearing said she should be retrained before ministers stepped in.

Audit Committee convener, the Labour MSP Hugh Henry, said: "The committee was rather surprised that the disciplinary committee did not recommend the removal of the former president from office, given the seriousness of its findings against her.

"We recognised that this placed ministers in a difficult position and commend their decision to put their duty of care to tribunal staff first and take action which resulted in the departure of the former president."

The committee said an acting president was appointed over a six-month period before Ms Davie's departure which allowed the organisation to continue to operate, but the arrangement led to "substantial extra costs".

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