We process personal data in order to carry out the statutory duties of the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland. A list of the legislation which is relevant to the Commissioner’s functions can be accessed here. The statutory duties include:

  • the consider and investigation of complaints;
  • reporting on investigations and on performance to the Scottish Parliament and to the Standards Commission for Scotland;
  • providing information, advice and guidance within the Commissioner’s statutory terms of reference;
  • regulating the ministerial public appointments process;
  • corporate administration;
  • responding to freedom of information requests; and
  • other activities which require to be carried out as a data controller and a public authority.

This privacy statement was drafted with brevity and clarity in mind and explains what you should expect when we process your personal data. It is not intended to provide exhaustive detail of all aspects of how the Commissioner may collect and use personal information. Where requested, we will endeavour to provide any additional information or explanation needed. Requests should be sent to the address provided at the end of this statement.

If you make a complaint about the conduct of an MSP, local authority councillor or board member of a public body

When we receive a complaint, a computer file containing details of the complaint is made up. We may also make up a paper file. The file will  normally contain the identity of the complainer, and of other individuals identified as being involved in the complaint, together with any documentary evidence provided or subsequently gathered.

The Commissioner is permitted, or may be obliged, by law to process personal data. The complaint, together with other information and documents which relate to it, will usually be shared with the person(s) whom you have complained about and others whom we need to contact during the investigation. We may need to share data, for example, with the Standards Commission for Scotland, the Scottish Government, employees of the Parliament, a council or other public body, elected members or other individuals who were perhaps witness to the circumstances complained of. We may be required to disclose the complainer’s identity to whoever the complaint is about in order to allow that person to respond meaningfully to the complaint.

We may process personal data to check the level of service we provide through customer feedback. We may also, from time to time, publish on our website summaries of the Commissioner’s decisions.

If you apply for a public appointment

The Commissioner regulates the ministerial public appointments process with a view to ensuring that it is fair and open to everyone who may wish to apply. The Scottish Government shares information on applicants, including information that they provide in monitoring forms, with the Commissioner so that the Commissioner can fulfil this function. The Commissioner reviews a proportion of applicant information alongside selection panel views on applicants to assess whether people are being treated fairly. The Commissioner reviews monitoring information to assess whether all categories of person are provided with fair and open opportunities to apply. The Commissioner also uses applicant information, including information provided by applicants in response to surveys, to produce guidance for the people involved in the appointments process so that practices are improved over time.


We retain personal information relating to public standards complaints and public appointments in line with our retention policy. Information is retained in a secure environment and access to it is restricted according to the ‘need to know’ principle. A copy of our retention policy can be found here.

People who telephone us

Calls made to our office may be recorded. We may use this information to help improve our efficiency and effectiveness or for training purposes.

Security and performance

The office of the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland uses a third party service to help maintain the security and performance of our website. To deliver this service it processes the IP addresses of visitors to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland website.

Your rights in relation to your personal data 

You have certain rights which you are entitled to exercise in relation to personal data that we hold about you.

Right of Access 

You have the right to ask us to tell you what personal data we hold about you and to access that data. If we do hold information about you, we will provide it if we are able to, having regard to the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 Act.

Right to object

You have the right to object to us processing personal data we hold about you.

Right to rectification

You have the right to ask us to rectify personal data we hold about you if it is inaccurate or incomplete.

Right to erasure

You have the right to request that personal data that we hold about you be erased if there is no compelling reason for us to continue processing it.

Right to restrict processing

Where you have sought to exercise any of your other rights in relation to personal data that we hold about you, or you consider that we are processing your data unlawfully, you have the right to ask us to restrict the processing of your personal data.

Requests to exercise any of your rights in relation to your personal data should be made in writing and sent to the email or postal addresses given below.

Use of our website

We try to ensure that the information published on our website is up to date and accurate, however we do not accept any liability for any consequences of its use.

The Commissioner for Ethical Standards' website and material relating to Government information, products and services (or to third party information, products and services), is provided 'as is', without any representation or endorsement made and without warranty of any kind whether express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of satisfactory quality, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, compatibility, security and accuracy.

We do not warrant that the functions contained in the material contained in this site will be uninterrupted or error free, that defects will be corrected, or that this site or the server that makes it available are free of viruses or represent the full functionality, accuracy, reliability of the materials. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including, without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damages whatsoever arising from use or loss of use of, data or profits arising out of or in connection with the use of the Commissioner for Ethical Standards' website.

Virus Protection

We make every effort to check and test material at all stages of production. It is always wise for you to run an anti-virus program on all material downloaded from the Internet. We cannot accept any responsibility for any loss, disruption or damage to your data or your computer system which may occur whilst using material derived from this website.


A cookie is a text-only string of information that a website transfers to the cookie file of the browser on your computer's hard disk so that the website can remember who you are. A cookie will typically contain the name of the domain from which the cookie has come, the "lifetime" of the cookie, and a value, usually a randomly generated unique number.

When you visit our website we send you a cookie. Cookies may be used in the following ways:

  • To enable the personalisation features on our website (which give you the ability to recall recently viewed pages and see information which you have input on line).
  • To compile anonymous, aggregated statistics that allow us to understand how users use our site and to help us improve the structure of our website. We cannot identify you personally in this way.
  • Two types of cookies may be used on this website, session cookies, which are temporary cookies that remain in the cookie file of your browser until you leave the site, and persistent cookies, which remain in the cookie file of your browser for much longer (though how long will depend on the lifetime of the specific cookie).
Cookie  Purpose More information
_utma A Google Analytics cookie which helps us understand how visitors are using our website, so we can make it more useful.
Lifespan: Persistent
Tracks the number of times a visitor has been to our website, when their first visit was, and when their last visit Cookieoccurred.
_utmb A Google Analytics cookie which helps us understand how visitors are using our website, so we can make it more useful.
Lifespan: 30 minutes
Tracks approximately how long a visitor stays on our website.
_utmc A Google Analytics cookie which helps us understand how visitors are using our website, so we can make it more useful.
Lifespan: At end of session
Tracks approximately how long a visitor stays on our website.
_utmz A Google Analytics cookie which helps us understand how visitors are using our website, so we can make it more useful.
Lifespan: 6 months
Tracks where a visitor came from, for example which search engine, search keyword or link they used.
show_bar show_bar Determines whether the cookie information bar at the top of the site is shown.
Lifetime: 10,000 days
sifrFetch Session cookie for 'Sifr Flash Replacement' plugin to enhance fonts around the website.
Lifespan: At end of session

Disabling/enabling cookies

You have the ability to accept or decline cookies by modifying the settings in your browser. However, you may not be able to use all the interactive features of our site if cookies are disabled.

Links to other websites

We are not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. We cannot guarantee that these links will work all of the time and we have no control over the availability of linked pages.

This privacy statement does not cover any links within this site linking to other websites. We encourage you to read the privacy statements on the other websites you visit.

Complaints or queries

We take any complaints we receive about the way we process personal information seriously. We encourage people to bring it to our attention if they think that our processing of information is unfair or inappropriate. We would also welcome any suggestions for improving our procedures. 

If we are unable to resolve internally any issues which you may have in relation to the way we have handled your personal data, you are entitled to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner. More information can be found here: https://ico.org.uk/.

Changes to this privacy statement

We keep our privacy statement under regular review and will update and amend it as necessary.

How to contact us

If you want to contact us about anything in this privacy statement, or in relation to any other matter regarding our use of personal data, you can email us at foi@ethicalstandards.org.uk or write to the Business Manager, Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, Thistle House, 91 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh EH12 5HE.