POLICE Scotland’s embattled Chief Constable Phil Gormley has resigned, saying the investigation into his behaviour by inspectors had taken a “significant toll” on his family.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) is currently investigating four complaints against the chief, while another three are being assessed internally.

He had been on special leave since last September.

In a statement issued through the Scottish Police Authority, Gormley said: "The last eight months have been difficult for me and my family, in particular I would like to thank my wife for her love and loyalty.

“The events since November 2017 have led me to the conclusion that it is impossible for me to resume my duties in a meaningful way prior to the end of my contract. I now need to prioritise the health and wellbeing of my family on whom these events have taken a significant toll.

"The support of colleagues from across the UK with whom I have served during the last 32 years has been a source of great strength.

“As Chief Constable of Police Scotland I have had the privilege to meet and work with some exceptional people, I wish them well for the future and it is in their interests that I feel it is right to step aside."

Gormley will get three months' salary, around £53,500, plus his unpaid annual leave.

Susan Deacon, Chair of the Scottish Police Authority broke the news: "Chief Constable Gormley has made a significant contribution to policing in Scotland. The delivery of the 10-year strategy 'policing 2026: serving a changing Scotland' provides a strong basis for Police Scotland to move forward.

"I would like to thank him for this contribution and wish him well for the future. This has been a challenging period for all concerned, and in the interest of policing in Scotland we now need to move on."

The chief constable has denied all of the allegations against him.

In one of the most astonishing developments of the affair, Gormley’s wife wrote a very personal and revealing column for the Daily Mail attacking Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, and the Pirc.

Claire Gormley accused investigators of going on a “disproportionate fishing expedition” against her husband and suggested her was being “attacked” because he is English.

Claire, a former Detective Superintendent, who served with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in England and Wales, described herself as a “experienced investigator, including inquiries into allegations of bullying against senior officers”

In the article she suggested her husband’s demanding ways had rubbed fellow officers the wrong way, which has prompted the allegations of bullying.

Those allegations, she adds, only came out when others in the force learned that there were talks to extend Gormley’s contract.

Claire writes: “He is also challenging and determined to get the job done. He expects his team to perform, to deliver what they have been charged with delivering and will ask difficult questions of them when this appears not to be the case. Isn’t that what the public would want and expect?”

She continues: “All I ask of those who have been fed a diet of half truths and speculation is to consider an alternative narrative. To consider that it might just be the case that my husband has simply done as you would expect of the man leading the second largest police force in the United Kingdom.

“He has simply asked those around him to rise to the challenge and together see Police Scotland evolve, develop and mature into a service Scotland can be proud of.”