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Update: We have moved to hybrid working and our staff are not always on site. As a result we only have intermittent access to postal deliveries. Please note that it may take longer to process items sent by post. For a quicker response please email or phone us or use our website

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




Audit Scotland today [20 December 2021] published a Section 22 report* regarding this office. The report and further details can be found on Audit Scotland’s website: Report: The 2020/21 audit of the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.

The report has been made in relation to serious issues identified in the audit relating to 2020/21.

Ian Bruce was appointed as Acting Commissioner on 20 April 2021 and has instituted a series of remedies. These include:

  • the production of a revised strategic plan for the next three years, which now incorporates the values that were missing from the previous version and clear statements of intent about how the office will fulfil its statutory obligations in accordance with the expectations of the Parliament, public and stakeholders
  • a new biennial business plan covering all office functions and addressing each of the auditor’s recommendations
  • the reinstitution of Senior Management Team (SMT) meetings in accordance with previous good governance arrangements and re-eagement with our Advisory Audit Board, whose members are drawn from the independent members of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body's AAB
  • the recruitment of three new Investigating Officers and a new Corporate Services Officer, to ensure all office functions are appropriately covered
  • meaningful re-engagement with the SPCB and on-going communications with the SPCB and the Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee to keep the Parliament updated on our situation and plans
  • meaningful and on-going engagement with all stakeholder organisations, including the Standards Commission for Scotland, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the Society of Local Authority Lawyers & Administrators in Scotland (SOLAR) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)
  • ensuring that the directions issued by the Standards Commission are complied with.

Progress to rebuild the organisation and its relationships with stakeholders is well underway.

The Acting Commissioner stated:

I am grateful for the auditors’ work on the review and have welcomed their recommendations, the majority of which are addressed in our strategic and business plans. I have been grateful, also, to the SPCB and the Standards Commission for Scotland for their support since my appointment and their recognition of the many changes that I have already made.

I and the entire team are dedicated to working in accordance with our new plans and the new values that we have adopted as an organisation. It is incumbent on me and on all of the staff to earn the trust of the public and the many stakeholder organisations that rely on our effective operation as an office. We are absolutely committed to doing so.

The following are available on our website:

* A Section 22 report allows the Auditor General for Scotland to directly raise concerns arising from audit work with the Scottish Parliament and the public.

What's new


Public appointments


Updated Unacceptable Behaviour Policy

The Commissioner has recently updated their Unacceptable Behaviour Policy which defines unacceptable or unreasonable behaviour by those who interact with the work of the Commissioner. 

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

The Commissioner recently published a revised Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies in Scotland. The Code will not come into effect until 3 October 2022. 

Updated Privacy Policy

The Commissioner recently updated their Privacy Policy. The privacy policy explains what type of personal data we may collect about you when you interact with us. It also explains how we will store and handle that data and keep it safe. 

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.