SCOTLAND’S top cop has called for a review into the old Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.

Iain Livingstone has told the Scottish Police Authority that he wants an outside force to investigate the disbanded undercover unit.

His call follows a defeat for the force in the courts, when a former officer, who blew the whistle on Life-on-Mars-like mismanagement, won a civil court case in January.

Livingstone told the SPA a review by another police force would ascertain if there should be further investigations, and would help to rebuild confidence in Police Scotland.

The former officer, known as Mrs K, was suspended after expressing fears that a colleague had compromised covert operations.

The woman, who joined Grampian police in 1990, and went on to work in the special operations unit (SOU) at the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, brought a damages claim for £1 million.

She was granted ill-health retirement from the police suffering stress, anxiety and depression in 2013.

The drugs agency no longer exists as it was incorporated into Police Scotland in the merger.

In her court case, Mrs K told the Court of Session in Edinburgh how she went to a covert mail box

operated by a fellow detective sergeant and found unopened mail containing bank statements, phone bills and letters from debt collectors.

The woman said: “My stomach fell. I felt physically sick. Obviously there was something not right here.”

She said there were bank statements and phone bills in names she had never previously heard.

Mrs K informed a senior officer and then went to premises she had been using as an office with the detective sergeant and discovered it had been ransacked.

The woman said documentation was taken back to the SCDEA base at Osprey House in Paisley, Renfrewshire.

She and another officer were then told to buy a garden incinerator and petrol and burn them.

During a further meeting with more senior officers she was told she was being suspended from her role as an undercover operative.

Mrs K said she could not understand why this was happening as she was the innocent party and the officer who had discovered the problem was being investigated.

In a report to go before the SPA at a board meeting today, Livingstone said it was clear that the events which took place in the legacy SCDEA in 2011 “were wholly unsatisfactory and unprofessional.”

He added: “I have now considered Police Scotland review team’s conclusions and recommendations.

“While I am entirely satisfied that the review was a thorough, robust and appropriate response, I recognise the legitimate interest that exists about what took place in 2011 and the importance of public confidence in the vital area of covert policing.

“To that end, I have requested that an external force, which has significant knowledge and experience in the area of covert policing, carry out a peer review to provide independent assurance.”

He added: “The purpose of this independent peer review is to ensure all legitimate enquiries have been carried out, and to identify whether there are any further lines of investigation which should be pursued.

“On completion and receipt of the peer review, I will determine what steps, if any, are required to ensure the integrity of the Police Scotland response and provide further public reassurance over this episode.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur questioned if anyone would be held accountable for the events in the unit, which was disbanded as its role was incorporated into the single force in 2013.

He said: “These events resembled scenes from Life on Mars.

“Chaotic filing was followed by officers being sent to buy an incinerator and petrol, taking documents to a wasteland by a river, then setting alight to them in a car park.”

“As I have said previously, in order to restore public confidence we now need to see another force from elsewhere in the UK brought in to consider Police Scotland’s findings and look at additional lines of inquiry.

“There is also the outstanding question of whether anyone will be held accountable for these events.”