The public should lobby the Scottish Parliament by writing to their MSPs and asking them to improve the
accountability and effectiveness of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman so that they protect the Scottish
Public by making the following changes to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002.
1. The Scottish Parliament should define and specify in the Act a working definition of what they
consider constitutes "maladministration" so that the Ombudsman can be held accountable.
The Ombudsman can only be held accountable if the Public know what would constitute “Maladministration”.
The Act does not define maladministration. I asked the Scottish Ombudsman what guidance they give to their
investigators on what constitutes a case of Maladministration. They could only refer me to their web site
“Glossary of Terms” which only says
“A dictionary definition of the term is ‘bad inefficient or dishonest administration. This can cover things like
unreasonable delay, rudeness, failure to apply the law or rules properly.”
This is quite a vague definition and prevents the public and Parliament from holding the Scottish Ombudsman
The Australian Ombudsman act of 1974 specifies a working definition of maladministration (link). The working
definition is comprehensive and specifies the items which are contrary to law. This should be adopted by the
Scottish Parliament and included in the IPSO Act of 2002, so that the Scottish Parliament and public can make
the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman more accountable for their actions.
The Australian Ombudsman act of 1974 working definition of maladministration can be found at the following
web site address should you wish to review that site.
The Scottish Parliament and Public need a working definition of maladministration to be included in the Act so
that the public and Parliament can hold the Ombudsman accountable if the Ombudsman decides to reject a
valid case of maladministration.
2. The Scottish Parliament should amend the SPSO Act 2002 so that the Scottish Ombudsman must
investigate all complaints made against them, lay before Parliament all investigation reports into
complaints made against them and report the complaints made against them in their Annual
3. The Scottish Parliament should define and specify in the SPSO Act 2002 that Audit Scotland must
conduct a “value for money” audit on the Scottish Ombudsman every year to ensure that they are
doing what the Parliament is expecting of them.
This audit should review the level of complaints by members of the public to determine if the Ombudsman is
providing value for money. Note: Mr Black, in his submission to the Finance Committee, stated that Audit
Scotland had not carried out any specific value for money studies since the Scottish Ombudsman was created
to assess whether the bodies provide value for money.
4. The Scottish Parliament should change the SPSO Act 2002 so that there is a right for the public to
appeal a decision made by the Scottish Ombudsman.
As the Scottish Ombudsman claims they provide a quasi-judicial service, which is required to provide
administrative justice, then the appeals should be reviewed by a judge appointed by the Scottish Parliament.
Another individual having difficulty with the SPSO , has had a reply from the Office of the George Reid MSP
and Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, which states :-
“There are no parliamentary procedures in place to monitor the standard of reports, compliance of due
process relating to complaints or any concerns about their content or conclusions. Specifically in relation to the
Ombudsman, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 does not provide for amendments to be made
to a report once it has been laid.”
Effectively the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is not accountable to the public in general or specifically
the Scottish Parliament who finance them.
As previously stated on the web page " Complaints about SPSO", I would recommend that you record all
instances of complaint about the service provided by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman with your local
MSP, George Reid MSP (Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and John Scott MSP responsible for the
5. The Scottish Parliament should change the Act so that the Scottish Ombudsmen and Deputies
cannot be recruited from the ranks of the people they are meant to be investigating.
I have brought to the attention of Audit Scotland, The First Minister and Mr Scott MSP how in my opinion the
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is not following the Law, by failing to lay before Parliament the results of
the investigations into complaints made about the service provided by the Scottish Ombudsman. I have also
asked them to consider the above suggestions on how to improve the accountability and effectiveness of the
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. When I receive a response I will let you know what they say.
February 2007 update: I received a letter from one of the MSP’s who is supporting the campaign to make the
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman more accountable.
The MSP advised me that one of the recommendations from the Finance Committee “Accountability and
Governance” Report was that the new Finance Committee (after May 2007 elections) is to propose a
committee bill to make the recommended legislative changes to acts establishing existing Commissioners and
Ombudsman. As with any bill proposed there has to be a consultation exercise and this will provide the public
with an opportunity to feed in their thoughts on the current legislation.
After the May elections it is really important for everyone, who has had problems with complaining to the
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, write to the New Finance Committee asking them when the public can
input their comments regarding making the Scottish Ombudsman more accountable when they draft the new
It would be good if everyone put in as many suggestions as possible to the Scottish Parliament so that they can
see the level of dissatisfaction the public have with the service provided by the Scottish Public Services
Ombudsman. I would suggest that when you send your suggestions to the Scottish Parliament that you also
copy every MSP on the email to esure they are in no doubt as to the level of dissatisfaction. Once the May
2007 elections have been completed I will provide a word document with the email addresses of all MSPs so it
is easy to add them to your email.
A similar situation exists in England with the Local Government Ombudsman and there are three very useful
web sites which will give you a better understanding of how the English Local Government Ombudsman and
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman operates. If there is one thing you will learn from that web site is
that you are not alone and the rejection of your valid complaint is not unusual.
1. English Local Government Ombudsman Watch (Link)
2. English Public Services Ombudsman Watchers (Link)
3. English Local Government Ombudsman Watcher Blog (Link)
If your complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is planning related then another useful web site is
Planning aid for Scotland (link) at web site (www.planningaidscotland.org.uk) where planning
professional volunteers provide free advice and guidance on planning issues to the public.
If your complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is related to medical neglect or incompetence
then there is a mutual self help group for those living in Scotland at the Patior (Link) web site (www.patior.co.
The Scottish Health Campaign Network are meeting with the Health Minister on the 24th September 2007 and
one of the subjects is the Ombudsman’s Involvement with Patient(Scottish Patients Association) Complaints. If
you have a medical complaint with the Scottish Ombudsman, then you may wish to contact these groups. The
Scottish Health Campaign Network web site link gives details of the planned meeting with the Health Minister
and use the Scottish Patients Association web site link if you wish your complaint to be aired at the meeting. It
is good to know that there are more groups complaining about how the SPSO operate.
If you have any comments regarding this web site then email your comments to Scottish
Ombudsman Watch at the following email address.
Email address: email@example.com
A small victory has been won as the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman now publicly
acknowledges that they receive complaints about their service, see new page Victory for SOWatch
We need an effective Scottish Public Services Ombudsman service that protects the general public
from authorities which are exceeding or ignoring the laws and rules governing them.
Thank you for your support.
Scottish Ombudsman Watch
Should you wish to go back to any of the previous pages, then use the navigation bar at the
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spso Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Watch
Campaigning for a more accountable & effective Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
How to make the Scottish Ombudsman more accountable