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Ministerial complaints procedure

Updated process will protect complainants and improve transparency

The procedure for handling formal complaints by civil servants about a current or former minister’s behaviour will be updated to improve transparency, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has pledged.

In future, where the outcome of a formal complaint is upheld or partially upheld, Ministers will be named and the outcome of the complaint published, together with an appropriately redacted version of the decision report.

The privacy and confidentiality of complainants and witnesses remain fundamental to the process.  Any information that could lead to their identity being disclosed will be redacted.

The procedure applies to all Scottish Government staff and civil servants working in the Scottish Government’s executive agencies. Information on the number of formal complaints will be proactively published every six months.

Mr Swinney recently said:

“The First Minister advised the Scottish Parliament in June that the ministerial code and complaints procedure would be updated with regards to future complaints. 

“The Scottish Government is determined to build a culture in which concerns are addressed early and in which all those who are involved with a complaint have confidence and can engage constructively and fairly in the process.”


The Scottish Government’s current procedure for handling formal complaints by civil servants about a current or former Minister’s behaviour came into operation in February 2022. 

The planned changes to the Ministerial complaints procedure will come into effect by the end of the year. 

In cases where a complaint is not upheld, the Minister's name and the outcome will be published on the Scottish Government website for a period of six months.

The Scottish Ministerial Code is being updated to take account of the updated procedure and will be published in due course.


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