IT is a safe bet the ructions in Scottish policing are going to feature prominently at Holyrood this month when MSPs come back from their Christmas break.

To recap, Police Scotland's chief constable Phil Gormley has been on leave since September after bullying allegations were made against him.

His deputy, Iain Livingstone, has stepped in, but there is a vacuum at the top of the force that cannot be ignored.

On Christmas Eve, we reported that the Scottish Police Authority - the body tasked with overseeing the force - had unanimously agreed to allow Gormley to come back to work.

However, correspondence revealed that the decision was never implemented and Gormley’s lawyer alleged interference by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson. The chief constable was also considering a judicial review.

An allegation of interference is very serious. If Matheson had a hand in reversing an SPA decision, it would speak to an unacceptable level of political meddling in policing, despite the force being so dysfunctional.

The SPA is the proper body to decide on matters relating to the chief, not a politician.

The story may have got lost in the Christmas period, but it is now back in Matheson’s lap.

Opposition politicians want the Justice Secretary to make a parliamentary statement, while he also faces the prospect of a grilling by the Public Audit committee.

If Matheson has any sense, he will address MSPs as a matter of urgency and give a full account of his role in this murky saga.