THE ignominious debacle surrounding the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Phil Gormley, entered the realms of outright farce yesterday. As if it were not bad enough that allegations surrounding his bullying behaviour and misconduct continue to mount, the public attack in a newspaper article by Mr Gormley’s wife on Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), only endorses the view that Scotland’s top police officer is, at times, flawed when it comes to making the right decisions.

Assuming that the Chief Constable himself sanctioned the piece written by Claire Gormley, herself a former police officer, both the timing and content of the article reveal a man seemingly hell-bent on making an already bad situation even worse.

Faced as he now is with six complaints currently being probed by both the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (Pirc) and internally by the SPA, would not a more reasoned response at this stage have been to show restraint and let proceedings take their course?

Having a relative fight your battles on the front page of a daily newspaper is problematic enough, but when the language and insinuation contained in such a public attack are in some instances either opaque or verge on the conspiratorial then the degree of miscalculation on Mr Gormley’s behalf is obvious.

In statements over the last few days both the Pirc and the SPA reiterated that complaint and conduct matters are confidential and it would be inappropriate to comment while investigation proceedings are under way.

As yesterday’s attack showed, the Chief Constable, it would appear, has no such reservations or desire to remain reticent.

By openly criticising the ongoing investigations against Mr Gormley as a “disproportionate fishing expedition”’ does him no favours, as does the suggestion that dragging out proceedings is motivated only by a desire to seek political advantage.

How ironic it is too that in calling for greater transparency over allegations against him, much of what was contained in yesterday’s article was in itself at times opaque in its inference.

Other claims of course were much more direct, if somewhat spurious. The suggestion that Mr Gormley had been an “outsider” because he doesn’t have a Scottish accent, and was “born in Surrey not Stirling”, verges on the insulting and flies in the face of facts that confirm many of Police Scotland’s senior officers are English.

Currently, Police Scotland’s top four consists of one Scot, two English – including Mr Gormley and one Northern Irish officer. Among the top 14 officers are seven Scots, six English and one from Northern Ireland.

Recent previous chiefs have included Englishmen David Strang of Lothians and Borders, and Ian Latimer of Northern Constabulary.

That yesterday’s attack should be reduced to claims of being an “outsider” is not only wrong but detracts from the urgent job in hand of getting a Chief Constable of Police Scotland back to work as soon as possible.

Already Mr Gormley has been on “special leave” since September last year.

As former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill recently pointed out, Mr Gormley

may have had an impressive record while serving previously elsewhere in the UK, but things have clearly not worked well for him since he took over at Police Scotland. Such is the damage already done and now compounded by yesterday’s attack that it is difficult to see how Mr Gormley’s return would be anything other than provocative and undermine the urgent job in hand of getting Police Scotland back on an even keel.

This process has to begin at the top and ensure that a senior command team are all pulling on the same rope, and not in different directions.

Enough is enough. Scotland needs a Chief Constable that will be good for the wider police service.

Mr Gormley is not that officer, and it’s now time for him to do the right thing for once and step aside.