THE chaos around Phil Gormley’s tenure as Police Scotland’s Chief Constable could put other people off applying for the job, a former top cop has warned.

Niven Rennie, a former head of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, also said he believed Gormley had failed to realise quite what the job was before he took it.

Rennie said there would likely now be a lot more awareness about what the job involves among senior officers south of the Border, and this, he added, might put them off.

He said: “Having seen how Phil Gormley has got stung, whether it’s justified or not, there’s a lot of publicity about it.

“It’s the second highest paid police officer job in the UK, but I’m not certain there’s many chief constables in England and Wales who’ll think about it, even for the money. I can’t see many wanting to stick their hat in the ring.”

According to Rennie, the favourite to replace Gormley is Iain Livingstone, the current acting Chief Constable. However, he also suggested Fiona Taylor, who was, until recently a temporary assistant commissioner, with the Metropolitan Police, and who came up through the old Strathclyde force.

He also thought Bill Skelly, Chief Constable with Lincolnshire Force, might be interested. Skelly previously served with Lothian and Borders Police and Police Scotland.

“Iain Livingstone’s done such a good job. The general feeling is that he should have got the job the last time,” he said.

He added that after two chief constables in five years, the force urgently needed some stability at the top.

Livingstone was due to retire last year, saying it was the “right time” to leave, but had a change of heart and has been in charge of the service since last summer.

Meanwhile, the Tories offered to help the Scottish Government “pass a new law to increase oversight of Scottish policing”.

The Tories offered to “donate” one of their regular debating slots, “if more time is needed to pass an SPA reform Bill”.

Tory shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said: “[Scottish Police Authority chair] Susan Deacon is widely respected, but what we’ve learnt is that this goes far deeper than one person – this is an issue about wider governance and structures.

“All opposition parties want to increase the independence of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), and Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that she’s open to the idea.

“But her warning that it would take new laws rings hollow. If the SNP want to bring forward a Bill, they could do it in days.

“And if they needs more debating time – we’ll donate some of our opposition time to sorting out the mess.

“We’re now putting our money where our mouth is. So should Nicola Sturgeon.”

During Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions, Tory leader Ruth Davidson called for a change in the recruitment process, questioning the ethics of the appointment process for chair of the SPA.

Davidson said it was an “obvious flaw” that the “head of the Scottish Police Authority is supposed to be independent of government, yet it is the Justice Secretary that appoints them”.

Andrew Flanagan, who preceded Deacon as SPA chair, reversed a decision to allow Gormley to return to work after a period of special leave after conversations with Michael Matheson – claiming that the Justice Secretary had told him this was a “bad decision”.

Sturgeon told Davidson primary legislation would be needed for the change.

She added that with Susan Deacon just being appointed to the SPA job, now was not the right time: “We have a new chair of the Scottish Police Authority in place, she is at the start of her term in office, I think she is doing an excellent job and we should get behind her”.