3.4 How Scottish Natural Heritage Chief Francesca Osowska sweeps staff misconduct under the rug

Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive of SNH. ©SNH

Knowing that Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) senior manager Ross Johnston was backing the misconduct of SNH geologist Colin MacFadyen, we sought to see whether new CEO Francesca Osowska would do the same. Another name at SNH for ‘Chief Executive Officer’ is ‘Accountable Officer’. This is a fitting name because it is she who is ultimately accountable for the misconduct of staff. 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 geologist Colin MacFadyen had been not been telling the truth, and that he was responsible for falsifying a museum’s report which had far reaching consequences for researchers. The email is given below.


Email to Francesca Osowska, 3 January, 2019

Quite frankly, we do not know how more incriminating evidence one would need to provide to set off some serious alarm bells here. The fact that the statement originated two years earlier than claimed is the kind of proof that puts SNH geologist Colin MacFadyen in a compromising position, effectively jeopardising the organisation.

If this were a normal government agency then someone like Colin MacFadyen would have some 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:

Source: Francesca Osowska 7 January, 2019

She provides the same attitude we have come to know from SNH. In the face of criticism they ignore you. She does nothing with the hard proof of misconduct. All she does is make a reference to Ross Johnston’s email in which he resorted to ignoring the details presented to him flat-out lying on several occasions (this has been shown here).

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 either has 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.