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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.

Privacy Notice for MSPs being complained about

This privacy notice describes how we collect and use your personal information if you, as an MSP, are the subject of a complaint. It explains how we'll store and handle your data, and keep it safe. 

Further information about how we process personal data is available in our main Privacy Policy.

When someone makes a complaint, we will collect information about you when:

  • They contact us for advice
  • They bring a complaint to us
  • We are looking at their complaint and need more information to make a decision
  • They ask us to change any decision we've made
  • They complain about us

The complainant will be asked to provide:

  • Their name and contact details 
  • The name(s) of the MSP(s) complained about 
  • A description of the conduct/incident they are complaining about
  • The date the incident happened
  • Whether they've complaint about this behaviour to another organisation 

We may ask them to provide:

  • Evidence supporting their complaint, including audio and video evidence 
  • The names and possibly the contact details of others involved 
  • Details of anyone they have chosen to represent them
  • Details about how we can make our service accessible to them

In assessing their complaint, we will hold your name and contact details and might gather the following which will contain information about you:

  • Evidence from you, as the MSP(s) complained about, and third parties
  • Internal documentation about the complaint.

We will record and store your information in our electronic filing systems. You can find out more in the Storing your personal information section of our Privacy Policy

All details relating to the complaint are stored in an electronic case file. Any additional material we receive or generate will be stored in this case file. 

In order to obtain and assess evidence we may have to share large electronic files with you and other parties involved in the case. These may be too large to share by email. Where this is the case we use the file sharing platform WeTransfer. You will be advised when we intend to use this service. You can find out more about how WeTransfer manages personal data in their Privacy & Cookie statement. If preferred, alternative transfer methods may be available.

The complaint will always be shared with you as the MSP(s) complained about. Normally the complainant's name will also be shared. We may need to contact other parties, such as witnesses, during the investigation. We will disclose your identity to these parties to allow them to respond meaningfully. 

Where we find that you have broken the rules that you are meant to follow, the Commissioner will submit a report to the relevant Committee of the Scottish Parliament. The report will include your name and will include the following:

  • The complaint
  • Details of the investigation 
  • The facts found by the Commissioner which may include materials from you, the complainant and third parties
  • The Commissioner's conclusions 
  • Your response to our report

The information may be summarised or presented in its original format. Any information provided, including that of third parties, may be included in the report where it is relevant to the investigation and findings. When you choose to provide third party information in response to the complaint about you and where this is relevant, the Commissioner is likely to include it in their report. The Commissioner's report and the Committee's conclusions will be published on the Scottish Parliament's website. 

Where the behaviour described may be criminal in nature we will suspend our investigation, inform the Committee and submit a report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

The ESC is covered by Freedom of Information laws. This means that anyone can ask us for the information that we hold. We must release this unless there is a good reason not to. The information requested may include personal data. We are very unlikely to release this without first informing the individual or seeking their opinion. 

The information in the case file will be for retained for five years. Our final decision will be retained permanently. Further details are available in our File Plan and Retention Schedule. Your data will be held in line with our Records Management Policy.

We have powers under the Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Act 2002 to process your personal data in this way.