Keep Scotland Beautiful rejects politicians' charge of nepotism

The wife of Derek Robertson, the charity's chief executive, was appointed head of corporate services but her post was not advertised externally

Derek Robertson
Derek Robertson

The charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has defended itself from accusations of nepotism after the wife of its chief executive landed a senior job which was not advertised externally.

Catherine Gee, wife of the anti-litter charity boss Derek Robertson, was appointed head of corporate services at the charity in January.

She had previously worked for the charity on a fixed-term contract as change manager from September 2011 until she was appointed to her new role, but the corporate services position was not advertised externally. Robertson was hired as chief executive at the charity, which employs about 50 staff, in March 2011. 

Graeme Morrice, Labour MP for Livingstone, told Third Sector it was hard to avoid the idea that nepotism had played a part in the appointment.

"The perception of most ordinary people on the street would have to be that this was nepotism," he said. "On the basis that this is an organisation which receives considerable resources from the Scottish government, it is incumbent on ministers to instigate a full investigation into this matter."

John Wilson, Scottish National Party MSP for Central Scotland, said: "The issue for me is that it does look like due process was bypassed for this appointment to take place. I would like the Scottish government to be clear to organisations receiving public funding that they must follow best practices for all appointments."

The charity’s income in 2011 was £16.6m, of which £15.3m came from the public purse.

John Frater, operations manager at Keep Scotland Beautiful, defended Gee's appointment.

He said all posts at the charity were advertised internally first as a matter of course and that Robertson played no part in his wife’s appointment.

"There was no nepotism here and we followed our hiring processes to the letter and beyond," he said. "I and a trustee carried out the interviews [for Gee] and the chief executive removed himself from the process.

"I don’t regret her appointment. A real act of discrimination would have been not to hire her because she is the chief executive’s wife."

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