Knowing that Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) senior manager Ross Johnston was covering up staff misconduct, we wanted to see how the new CEO Francesca Osowska would respond. By informing her about what happened, she would lose the possibility to say that she was not in the know about it – which is what senior directors usually do when confronted with a scandal. This would put her in the position of either being honest, or sweeping this under the rug. To this end we made a brief email which contained all the necessary information to prove that SNH staff had been misconducting themselves.
We included some pretty incriminating evidence which should have set off some serious alarm bells. If this were a normal government agency then these staff members would have at least a little explaining to do. But things are different at Scottish Natural Heritage.
In the face of indisputable proof of staff misconduct, what does SNH chief Francesca Osowska do? Her response is below:
She provides the same attitude we have come to know from SNH. In the face of criticism they ignore you. From this we can draw some important conclusions about SNH CEO Francesca Osowska, and Scottish Natural Heritage in general:
1. SNH does not owe anyone an explanation. When confronted with indisputable proof of staff misconduct, SNH is entitled to ignore you. The fact that they demonstrate this behaviour indicates that Scottish Natural Heritage might have some form of exemption from accountability.
2. Given that even the most senior staff of SNH turns a blind eye to staff misconduct, it strongly suggests that SNH is some kind of untouchable organisation. Why else would she ignore indisputable proof? In other countries this is the kind of thing that would have the heads rolling, but in the case of SNH this washes off them like water off a rain coat. They know they will not be punished for this, which is the foundation of a corrupt organisation. However, what makes this a particularly troubling development is that we are not dealing with a multi-national business or some criminal cartel; we are talking about a government agency in what is supposed to be a first-world country.
A real pity.