SUNDAY Herald readers may be wondering why this newspaper has taken a continued interest in the tensions between chief constable Phil Gormley and Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

In November, Matheson effectively blocked a decision by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) to allow Gormley, under investigation over alleged bullying, to return to work. The move is extremely worrying. Policing, given the powers available to officers, is the last public service Ministers should be able to directly control.

When the draft legislation for a single force was being debated, genuine fears were expressed that political meddling would become a reality.

Events since early November, when Matheson all but overruled the SPA, have confirmed these fears. The SPA, rather than being a powerful watchdog, is a poodle.

The concerns expressed by Matheson about the SPA decision have some merit. However, all the concerns could have been addressed within days, if there had been a genuine will to sort them out. Given that Gormley remains on leave, it seems likely that the Government is highly unenthusiastic about the chief constable ever coming back

We now have the worst of all worlds: a highly dysfunctional SPA, up against a meddling Government that seeks to overturn decisions it dislikes.

Today’s revelations - that the Government had a secret meeting with Gormley at the height of the row - confirms Matheson’s interference.

Scotland needs a full scale review of policing governance, from which we need a credible and independent body scrutinising the decisions of our wayward single force.