SEPA CEO A’Hearn leaves amid ‘conduct allegations’

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) chairman Bob Downes confirmed on Friday that chief executive Terry A’Hearn has stepped down and left his position “following conduct allegations.”

SEPA employs around 1,300 people and is Scotland’s principal environmental regulator.

Downes said: “Following conduct allegations, Terry A’Hearn has stepped down and left his position.

“SEPA has a clear code of conduct and takes conduct allegations very seriously indeed.

“In order to protect anonymity, SEPA is unable to comment further.”

Downes confirmed that recruitment for a new chief executive would shortly commence and in the interim, chief officer Jo Green would be acting chief executive, supported by SEPA’s agency management team.

A’Hearn’s resignation comes ahead of the expected publication next month of an Audit Scotland review of SEPA’s response to a huge cyber attack on Christmas Eve of 2020.

On January 22, 2021, SEPA provided a further update on ransomware cyber attack, saying it would not engage with “criminals intent on disrupting public services and extorting public funds.”

The environmental regulator confirmed that data stolen by “what was likely to be international serious and organised cyber-crime groups” had been illegally published online.