Previous Opportunities

Scottish COVID Inquiry – Chief Executive


* This advert was updated on 21 December 2022.  A slight change to one of the key responsibilities and one of the essential criteria “Leading and Influencing Others” was changed.  Anyone interested in applying is advised to download a copy of the revised candidate pack, the latest version is available in the link further down.

Chief Executive Scottish COVID Inquiry
ID 2022-5285
Closing Date: 23/01/23



Applications are invited to this position of Chief Executive to Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry.  Senior Civil Service Payband 2 (SCS2).  Salary £95,930.  This is a permanent post on standard Civil Service terms.  It’s also open to applications from existing Civil Servants on promotion.


On 24 August 2021, the First Minister announced a public Inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland. The Inquiry is judge-led by the Chair.  It is the largest Inquiry ever to take place in Scotland and will investigate issues that have affected the lives of everyone in Scotland. It will take place alongside the UK (United Kingdom) Covid-19 Inquiry, investigations into Covid deaths led by the Crown Office and other investigations by independent organisations such as Audit Scotland, creating a complex landscape which requires sensitivity and sound judgment to navigate. The post is high-profile, challenging and vitally important in identifying the lessons to be learned from the response to the pandemic.

The Chief Executive to the Inquiry is a significant and high-profile leadership post and will be its most senior official, with responsibility and accountability for the administration and management of the entire Inquiry team including policy, planning, finance, operations, facilities, security, and comms. The post-holder will deal with important and complicated issues, carrying significant risk with a high level of accountability. They will be working under the guidance and direction of the Inquiry Chair, and must command the trust of the Chair, Counsel, the Inquiry legal team and the Inquiry secretariat. The post has a strong external profile and representational role, requiring the post-holder to engage regularly with and win and retain the confidence of separate independent inquiries, core participants, third sector organisations, legal representatives and individual stakeholders, who will reflect a wide variety of different and potentially conflicting interests.  The role requires strong stewardship both internally and externally. The successful candidate will demonstrate strong strategic and personal leadership in a high-profile area and will have overall responsibility for developing and leading the organisational aspects of the Inquiry alongside the Chair.

The role of Chief Executive will require resilience and robustness in order to work in a challenging, complex and time-pressured environment managing a variety of key stakeholders’ expectations sensitively – including bereaved families and a range of public bodies across departmental and governmental boundaries– under intense media and public scrutiny.

It is likely that, at points in the Inquiry, the successful candidate will lead an Inquiry team of over 200. Indeed, across the life of the Inquiry it is likely that around 300 people will have been employed, as the required skillsets adjust to Inquiry phases. The successful candidate will oversee three deputy director led divisions and will be required to strategically manage the Inquiry’s workforce to ensure the Inquiry’s needs are met as it progresses through its different stages. The successful candidate will also be expected to negotiate and manage the Inquiry’s budget.

The successful candidate will have the character and judgement required to navigate this complex but rewarding task. This includes having the proven leadership and delivery skills to manage a complex operational structure involving Scottish Government staff on assignment together with specialists and agency workers, in order to create and support the effective operational arrangements for the Inquiry.

The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference is attached COVID-19 Inquiry – (

Further information can be found in the candidate packs.  Please find links to these further down.


  • Design and lead the organisational structure for the Inquiry team so that it is efficient and proportionate and responds to the demands of the Inquiry’s terms of reference and anticipated timescale, by establishing substantial multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Provide effective management and leadership to promote a positive working culture throughout the Inquiry team, and which safeguards the values of the Inquiry and wellbeing of those working within it.
  • Be accountable for the creation of governance systems and new policies independent from Scottish Government whilst maintaining good relations with the Scottish Government sponsor team, and provide assurances that compliance and value for money is achieved
  • Be the most senior official point of liaison with the Secretary of the UK COVID Inquiry, establishing a strong and mutually supportive relationship to ensure the needs of the Scottish COVID Inquiry are fulfilled.
  • Negotiate the Inquiry budget and manage expenditure in line with Managing Public Money; ensure effective and efficient management of the Inquiry and support the Chair in delivering the terms of reference on time and on budget publications Scottish public finance
  • Develop and oversee implementation of a strategic plan for investigations and hearings with the Chair, Solicitor to the Inquiry and Counsel, within the Inquiry terms of reference and Inquiries 2005 Act and meet performance requirements set out in the management agreement to be agreed with the Inquiry.
  • Develop the Inquiry work programme including evidence gathering and handling, witness liaison and support, relationships with stakeholders including core participants, holding of public hearings, preparation and publication of Inquiry reports.
  • Lead a large-scale procurement exercise for Inquiry premises, developing business cases, liaising with a wide range of stakeholders and ensuring value for money
  • Oversee compliance and legal requirements and resolve issues arising for operational and business activities of the Inquiry, including procurement and contractual arrangements, financial transactions of significant value, health and safety and accommodation requirements, IT, and public relations and communications activities.
  • Act as a key advisor to the Chair providing high quality advice on policy issues and Inquiry procedures, raising potential impacts and risks in the decision-making process and managing delivery expectations.
  • Provide advice on structure and content of the reporting process to the Chair and Inquiry Counsel and commence regular reporting on lessons learned.
  • Act on the authority of the chair as their deputy to conclude critical operational decisions. This excludes chair decisions specified in the Inquiry (Scotland) Rules.
  • Lead on sensitive engagement with key stakeholders, including bereaved families, public bodies, professional bodies and core participants with which the Inquiry will interact, whilst maintaining the Inquiry’s independence.
  • Oversee the development, implementation and successful completion of the Listening Project, ensuring it delivers within the context of the Terms of Reference.
  • As Information Asset Owner take lead responsibility for the handling of sensitive data and oversee arrangements for the disposal of Inquiry papers within the requirements of all applicable legislation, ensuring National Records of Scotland’s archival requirements are met.
  • Assume the formal data and information responsibilities as defined in the Data Protection Act 2018, including that of Data Protection Officer.
  • Carry out other tasks required by the Inquiry


You will be asked to provide a detailed Supporting Statement that evidences how you meet the following essential criteria:

Delivering in a policy and operational environment

  • Advising, supporting and setting direction in developing Inquiry policy; demonstrating political acuity and ability to influence, while working successfully with the Chair, senior legal team, senior external stakeholders and the UK COVID Inquiry, to resolve complex policy, competence and operational issues;

Financial management and governance

  • You will be the most senior official in the Inquiry Team responsible to the chair for the overall integrity, performance, results and public value. Therefore, you will have a strong track record of securing quality, efficiency and value for money, whilst independently creating the management and leadership infrastructure to assure good governance. 

Leading and Influencing Others

  • Highly developed communication, networking and negotiating skills using personal presence and credibility and creative approaches to secure confidence of the Chair and Inquiry Counsel as well as at the most senior levels across the Civil Service and beyond; evidence an ability to work sensitively with a wide range of external stakeholders, exercising discretion, empathy and compassion. Experience of delivering substantial programmes of work at scale and pace, achieving high quality results and value for money.

Developing Others

  • Given the wide range of specialist skills required at different stages in the Inquiry, you will be expected to provide visible leadership, translating the requirements of the chair into complex, phased resource plans. As such you will have a strategic overview of the skills development required for the organisation, ensuring the right resources are in place at the right time.

Leading Collectively

  • With the complexities of working productively with the UK Inquiry, you will demonstrate political acuity as you navigate the organisational system and wider public context in order to deliver operational success for the Inquiry. You will be comfortable leading in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment. In order to do this, you will be able to act as an innovator, and a creative thinker who desires to act on behalf of the public good.

Understanding, Managing and Developing Self

  • Using your personal lived experience to both guide you and take others with you, you will establish supportive working practices and engagements across the Inquiry, understanding that ethos will become visible to the public in all their dealings with the Inquiry. Given the universal experience of impact from COVID this will be of critical importance.
  • You will be comfortable sharing your experiences and challenges with others. You will know when you are at your best and be open about what causes you strain, having strategies in place to maintain personal resilience.


Applications should be submitted by no later than Monday 23 January 2023 at 12.00 noon.  You may wish to consult the Further Information Sections in the candidate packs when preparing your application.  You can access them here.

Candidate pack – Scottish Covid Inquiry – Chief Executive Revised 21 Dec 2022

Candidate Pack 2 – Scottish Covid Inquiry – Chief Executive – Further Information


If this is the first time you have applied for a Senior Civil Service appointment:

If you click “apply for this role” you will be asked to enter your email address as well as being asked to complete:


  1. Online registration. There are a number of questions, covering information required for the recruitment process and to enable us to monitor our performance as an inclusive employer. These include:
  • Diversity Monitoring. See the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for more information.
  • Disability Confident Scheme (previously known as Guaranteed Interview Scheme) for disabled persons. For further information, see here. If you require reasonable adjustments to support you to apply for this role, please email Diane Kinnaird in confidence. For example, a reasonable adjustment at application stage could be providing information in an accessible format.
  • Nationality section. Please see the Civil Service Nationality Rules for further information.

The online registration form is solely for HR use and will not be given to the selection panel.

The system will acknowledge your application, you should then submit the following to complete your application:

  1. Email a supporting statement (using the template below) and CV and send these to Katy Gall at Aspen People. Email:

Catriona Mackie and Donogh O’Brien at Aspen are our retained recruitment partners.  For a confidential discussion about the role please contact either Catriona or Donogh on 0141 212 7555.

The selection panel will use these two documents to assess your suitability for the role against the essential criteria during sifting.

  • Supporting statement (maximum 1,500 words) explaining how your skills, qualities and experience make you suitable for the role. You should make particular reference to, and structure your supporting statement around, the essential criteria. (Please use the template provided).  You can access the template here SUPPORTING STATEMENT TEMPLATE
  • CV setting out your career history, with key responsibilities and achievements. This should provide details of your qualifications and career history with dates and reasons for leaving.


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