Skip to content Skip to footer

This advice applies to Scotland. Change country

How to make a complaint about the misconduct of councillors and members of devolved public bodies

If you want to complain about a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), a councillor, or a member of a devolved public body, you can complain to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (CESPLS). You can complain to the Commissioner if you think that there has been financial misconduct, a breach of confidentiality, inappropriate acceptance of gifts or hospitality, or other breaches of a Code of Conduct.

Since 1 July 2013, the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (CESPLS) can consider complaints about:

  • a councillor or member of a devolved public body who you think has broken the relevant Code of Conduct. The Commissioner reports on the outcome to the Standards Commission for Scotland
  • a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) who you think has broken the Code of Conduct for MSPs. The Commissioner reports on the outcome to the Scottish Parliament
  • the way certain appointments are made to the boards of some of Scotland's public bodies. These bodies are listed on the CESPLS website at www.publicappointments.org and there is more about regulating public appointments and how to complain on their website at www.publicappointments.org.

More about complaining about the conduct of an MSP

What devolved bodies can you complain about

The public bodies that you can complain about to the Commissioner include:

  • a wide range of national bodies e.g. the Care Inspectorate, the Crofting Commission and The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland
  • national park authorities
  • further education colleges
  • NHS boards
  • health and social care integration joint boards
  • regional transport partnerships.

There is a link from the CESPLS website to a full list of bodies that the CESPLS covers on the Standards Commission website at www.standardscommissionscotland.org.uk.

How to make a complaint about the misconduct of councillors and members of devolved public bodies

There is information on making a complaint, electronically or by post, about a councillor or member of a devolved public body on the website of the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life at www.publicstandardscommissioner.org.uk. This includes:

What if the CESPLS cannot consider your complaint

If your complaint is not about a breach of a Code of Conduct, you may need to use the complaints process for the body that you want to complain about. Typically this involves using an internal complaints process, with the possibility of going on to an ombudsman if you are not satisfied. If you want to challenge an administrative decision of a public body, you may need to use a judicial review. You will need to consult a solicitor if you plan to seek a judicial review.

Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (CESPLS)

Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (CESPLS)
Thistle House
91 Haymarket Terrace
Edinburgh
EH12 5HE

Tel: 0300 011 0550 or 0131 347 3890
Email: investigations@ethicalstandards.org.uk
Website: www.ethicalstandards.org.uk

Complaints about misconduct before 1 July 2013

Before 1 July 2013 complaints were dealt with under separate legislation. There is information on who dealt with complaints before 1 July 2013 on the CESPLS website at www.publicstandardscommissioner.org.uk

Complaints about the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland

You can complain about the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland. There is information on the Commissioner’s website about how to complain at www.ethicalstandards.org.uk, and how the complaint is dealt with at www.ethicalstandards.org.uk.

More information

The Standards Commission for Scotland

Did this advice help?