What role did the First Minister’s Permanent Secretary play in the PPP/PFI scandal?

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From Contrary:

In The Only Game in Town 2 : The Cover Up, we are given a brief review of the investigation presented in the first documentary from 2017/18 – in 2005 a contract was signed by North Ayrshire Council (NAC) for a PPP/PFI deal to build 4 schools. The council is now paying £1million a MONTH to pay this debt, and will be until about 2038. Expensive schools. There were concerns amongst councillors about lack of transparency and procedures, so a police investigation was launched in 2006 and they ‘found no criminality’. The first documentary found enough evidence to place doubt on the legality of the bidding procedure (one of the competitors was obviously a shell company just invented at the time and lied on its application) – so no competition was really there – and strong doubt that any police investigation had taken place.

This documentary (only about 35 mins): NAC councillors put forward a motion, to have a new police investigation, on 28 Feb 2018. The Chief Executive Elma Murray and Councillor Joe Cullinane appear to collude (video record) to avoid an investigation but the motion is passed. Elma requests an investigation but police Scotland refuses.

Campbell Martin (the reporter investigating here) puts in a FOI to police Scotland for documents relating to the 2006 inquiry – there is a whole heap of lies and wriggling out of things here, so something is not right. Eventually he received 4 out of 11 documents, that they said didn’t exist, but they were so heavily redacted they were useless. (You really have to wonder what it said to need such redaction – this is a public procurement case, not an assassination!)

So, how the PPP/PFI deal worked in 2005: there was a NAC Project Board, but it was made up of only 3 elected councillors, the rest were unelected council officials and civil servants from the Scottish executive – the Financial Partnership Unit (FPU). It appears that the main body of the council had little control or say over the PPP deal they were meant to sign off on – one councillor David O’Neill asked to see the contract, and a council official Jim Tulips (I am not sure about the name here) said it was for the eyes of the project board only – that is, they had no idea what they were signing up to or how much it would cost! The initial cost was £80m+, after the contract was signed it was £107m+, it is now estimated at £395m+ total. Mostly all going to large tax-avoiding companies, and a German bank.

Turns out it was the FPU from the Scottish executive that was running things. An FOI revealed an email from 25 July 2005 from Jane Broderick (a reasearcher in the civil service) to Sandy Rosie (who was the senior official in charge of the FPU) asking about a meeting, re NAC PPP deal, between a civil servant – Leslie Evans – and the Chief Executive of NAC. Rosie’s reply was that the FPU was ‘handling business in this case’ and ‘the less said to the council the better!’.

I haven’t had time to look at what Sandy Rosie is doing now – he was obviously high up then, and questioned in committee meetings, along with Tom McCabe MSP, in 2005. There is a definite lack of info online regarding PPP deals. I am not sure of Leslie Evans position at the time, but she was obviously fairly high up as she was going around checking on councils in 2003 (isle of Bute minutes of a meeting, which I’ve lost the link to). The main thing here is that if she can be linked to unethical practices – misleading councils, councillors and the tax-payer – costing us millions in the process, as well as keeping silent on illegal practices (or part of them? No evidence of that, so far) – then she should not be in the position she is in.

Civil service code: upholding values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. Who knew eh?

The police – well, I don’t know who still has a position of influence, but that needs seriously looked at.

This should be the minutes of an audit committee in 2005 with by Sandy Rosie as a witness (I haven’t read it and is likely boring, and please check the link is the right one):


See the above-mentioned videos at: https://talkingupscotlandtwo.com/2020/01/28/scottish-media-to-be-given-no-more-chances-after-causing-public-money-and-time-to-be-wasted-on-investigations-into-the-naturally-occurring-unavoidable-infections-of-a-tiny-few/

Previously ‘here’:

When things go pear-shaped the aide resigns not the minister so what’s different about Leslie Evans?


17 thoughts on “What role did the First Minister’s Permanent Secretary play in the PPP/PFI scandal?

    1. Aye.

      Exposing PFI deals, North Ayrshire schools PPP (the only game in town 2):

      The original documentary ‘The Only Game in Town’:

      It was in a previous comment of course so not transferred.


  1. Hello, John,

    Out of curiosity I set out to read the minutes of the 2005 audit meeting you linked. As I ploughed through the turgid prose the word “waffle” constantly came to mind, but I persisted, just in case there might appear some light. But no – just waffle and more waffle up to the point where the guy from the Scottish Executive actually boasted that the margin of error he and his team had in mind when forward estimating the costs of PPP was plus or minus 25 percent! At that point, for health reasons, I stopped.

    On reflection, and in light of actual reported costings of real contracts, it seems that a 50% error allowance was insufficient.

    Also,in 2005 the civil service must also have been fully aware of the debacle of PPP as applied to the Skye bridge and its exorbitant costs to the public, so what was driving them to promote this funding method? The contractors and their contract lawyers must have thought they had found perpetual Christmas.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well done William! You get 5 gold stars for reading any of that turgid waffle. (my reward system is far better than John’s – he only hands out SFAs). You have saved us all a lot of time and energy by letting us know.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting that that the Audit Scotland report on the cost of PFI, NPD and Hub funding was published this week. That is the report that states in 2005 the Scottish Government adopted the NPD model for funding projects.

    But I thought in 2005 the Scottish Executive was still in power and still using PFI.

    Interesting too that The Ferret, the fact checking service, repeats this about the 2005 Scottish Government and NPD verbatim when discussing the report. Fact checking eh?

    Link to the Ferret. There is a link to the Audit Scotland report in the Ferret article


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi John, Contrary et al – Just en passant – Was interesting to note that a Lab/Lib Scottish Executive Civil Servant who shared the same name as the Director of the ‘interesting’ Financial Partnerships Unit in 2005 mentioned in Campbell Martin’s most interesting documentary – happened to be Director of Resources for The Crown Office and PF Service in 2001.

    Ah – those ‘wonderful’ Lab/Lib Scottish Executive days of yore – when everything in The Baron Foulkes’ garden was perfect – when The Baron Foulkes, The Baron McConnell and sundry other Barons and Co all lived in the best of all possible worlds – Those were the days my friend – we thought they’d never end – we’d sing and dance forever and a day….

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hi Brenda – you are right – it is certainly the same person who was commissioned as a speaker at the SMi Group conference in Dublin in March 2004 (The meeting was about PFI/PPP on the island of Ireland). The speakers’ list identifies Sandy Rosie as ‘Director of the Financial Partnerships Unit, Scottish Executive. So he was participating as a guest speaker at the commercial conference – but in an official capacity. Whether any later, further involvement with SMi Group (career move etc) is not known, Snippet below:

    Further to the Irish Minister of Finance Charlie Mc Creevy’s announcement of a major State Investment Programme, which includes a Euro 5.6 billion Infrastructure Investment and a Euro 1 Billion programme to upgrade Ireland’s primary schools, we are delighted to announce SMi’s 7th annual Private Finance in Ireland and Northern Ireland conference.

    This conference will detail new opportunities and challenges in procuring and delivering Irish Infrastructure and Social Infrastructure sector, through key presentations and will provide an ample opportunity to network.

    Speakers already secured for this event are:
    Andy Carty, Chief Executive, Strategic Investment Board, Northern Ireland
    Sandy Rosie, Director, Financial Partnerships Unit, Scottish Executive


    1. Thanks Ludo, I couldn’t find him from that link at all – what a rubbish investigator I am. He certainly was actively promoting PFI by the sounds of things – guess he’s off sunning himself in the Bahamas with all the proceeds by now.


  5. Interesting info – or lack of,,,

    Two names are associated with the Financial Partnership Unit of the Scottish Executive (which became the Scottish government in 2007) from the minutes of committe meeting in 2005: Sandy Rosie and Alison Ferguson.

    Sandy Rosie was part of Partnership UK (PUK) in at least 2003 to 2007? PUK had/has its own website – claims it ‘works with’ the Financial Partnership Unit. Government websites and various info imply PUK had public and private people working in it – it was developed by the Treasury.

    Effectively, apart from a mention here and there that the Financial partnership unit existed, there is zero information about it, and nearly none about these two people that should have been part of it.

    I found a committee meeting in 2008 that had Sandy Rosie as Director of the FPU as witness, but he was questioned in private. The Scottish government stopped using PFI in 2007, moving to NPD.

    You would have thought there would be scrutiny of or at least historical information on this mysterious Unit – it existed for at least 3 years and was in charge of large projects & advising.

    It’s been disappeared, unlike the PUK – there is a fair amount of Wiki information on that. Frustrating!

    (I have too many links to post them)


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