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In some circumstances, it can currently take up to 4.5 months to conduct an initial assessment for some complaints, particularly if they are complex. We are doing everything we can to reduce this time. You can find average timescales for each stage of complaint handling across all types of complaints here.

Investigating complaints

We investigate complaints about the behaviour of MSPs, local authority councillors, and board members of public bodies and about lobbyists.

Make a complaintHow we investigate

Regulating public appointments

We regulate and monitor how people are appointed to the boards of public bodies in Scotland, and promote diversity.

Public appointmentsGood practice case studies

About the Ethical Standards Commissioner

The Commissioner and their team work within their remit to encourage fairness, good conduct and transparency in public life in Scotland. We investigate complaints about the behaviour of MSPs, local authority councillors and board members of public bodies and about lobbyists. We also regulate how people are appointed to the majority of boards of public bodies in Scotland.

Our values, our purpose and our objectives are set out in our strategic plan and our biennial business plan.

More about us

Draft Strategic Plan 2024-2028 Consultation 

The Commissioner has recently published his draft strategic plan on the work of our office for the period from 2024-2028.

This plan aims to inform MSPs, local authority councillors, public body board members and, of course, the people of Scotland, upon whose trust every elected individual and public authority relies, about what we will we do in the coming years. This plan also sets out a range of other metrics that we have adopted or plan to adopt to measure our performance and which we will use to demonstrate the value of our own contribution to public life. Below each of our overarching objectives are a set of sub-goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. We explain in this plan how and in what way they will contribute to the overarching objectives and to the ultimate outcomes that we intend to achieve.

The Commissioner would be grateful for any views that you and your organisation may have on the plan and the proposals set out in it. The Commissioner would ideally like to have your views by 12 January 2024 but would be happy to extend that deadline if it presents any difficulty. Equally, you should not hesitate to contact us if you would find it helpful to discuss the plan or any aspect of our work. 

The Commissioner is inviting views on the plan from the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government, the Standards Commission for Scotland, parliamentary committees, SOLAR, SOLACE and COSLA, the boards of public bodies and, of course, all local authorities. This list is not exhaustive as the Commissioner intends the consultation to be both extensive and meaningful. You will find a list of all individuals and organisations that the Commissioner is consulting with set out in appendix 3 of the plan. 

All responses and any enquiries about our plans should be sent via email to We look forward to hearing from you. 



What's New

Investigations Manual

For the first time in the history of the office the Commissioner has published their Investigations Manual for public reference in line with their commitment to accountability, honesty and transparency. The manual has been created to codify the investigations processes across all aspects of the office's work and was finalised in consultation with our stakeholders. 

Revised Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies in Scotland

The revised Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies in Scotland and accompanying Statutory Guidance are now live and will be applied to all new appointment rounds commencing after 3rd October 2022. 

Draft strategic plan for 2024-2028 consultation

The Commissioner has recently published a Draft Strategic Plan on the work of our office for the period from 2024-28. The Commissioner is inviting any views on the plan and its proposals. 

Investigation Report on a complaint about the ESC

In January 2021, a number of concerns were raised about how we investigated a complaint about the conduct of a Councillor. The issues raised were significant and we commissioned an independent investigation. We have now published the resulting report which details the issues, the investigation, the findings and our responses to the recommendations. 



Diversity in public appointments

Do you understand the difference that diversity makes in public appointments? Our page on promoting diversity might help.




Updated Guide to Information

The Commissioner recently updated their Guide to Information. This shows you the information we produce and how you can access it.