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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.


When we investigate a complaint, we may need to gather evidence from witnesses – people with information relevant to a case. 

Witnesses are people who can give a clearer picture of the circumstances surrounding a case.

Information may be gathered by a telephone or video call, written correspondence such as an email, and sometimes in person. 

An investigation must be thorough, but it also needs to be as quick and efficient as possible. 

We will decide who we contact to ensure we have enough information. Sometimes, not all witnesses named by a complainer or respondent are contacted.

If you’re a witness, we will be in touch asking for information from you or inviting you to attend an interview. Confidentiality is important, especially if you’re a whistleblower requiring anonymity, so we’ll take great care with the timing and location of interviews, and how we keep in touch during the process.

You can find more information about what happens at an interview:

After the investigation is complete and we issue our findings, we will – in the interests of transparency and natural justice – normally disclose the identity of some witnesses.  These are:

  • All respondents
  • All complainers (unless they are whistleblowers or otherwise anonymous)
  • MSPs, councillors and/or board members of a public body
  • Senior officials and/or their equivalent 

Only the job title of other officials will be disclosed, unless their identity is important to the understanding of the outcome.

Information you give us could become public. We will always try to anonymise information where we can. However, there is always a chance that other people could identify the person who provided particular information. As such, we are unable to guarantee your anonymity. You can find out more in our Privacy Notice for Witnesses.

If you have any queries, please contact us. 

Making a complaint

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

Making a complaint

How we investigate

Are you considering making a complaint? Have you complained to us already? Would you like to know more about what happens next? Here’s how we’ll investigate your complaint.

How we investigate