1. ITV Report

Hardwick insists he was right to suspend police chief

Alan Hardwick Photo: ITV Yorkshire

Lincolnshire's Police and Crime Commissioner today told MPs he remains convinced he was right to suspend his Chief Constable, despite a High Court judge ruling the decision was "irrational and perverse".

Chief Constable Neil Rhodes was suspended in February after allegations that he helped a Muslim lawyer pursue a claim of racial discrimination which he knew to be contrived. He was reinstated in March following the High Court's ruling.

PCC Alan Hardwick, who took the decision to suspend Mr Rhodes just three months after taking office, today told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee that he accepted the judge's criticism but still believed he was right.

"I remain convinced that I made the right decision," said Mr Hardwick. "I accept entirely the High Court judge's criticism. The point at the judicial review was a very narrow point about interpretation over a set of circumstances.

"My interpretation went one way, the judge's interpretation went the other way. I still maintain that my interpretation was correct. The judge disagreed with me."

He accepted that he had made a "U-turn" by reinstating Mr Rhodes, but had come to a conclusion that he would have to do so "as a result of the High Court decision and further discussions I have had with my learned advisers".

The costs of the court case would be met from the £450,000 budget of his office, said Mr Hardwick. But he said that he had not yet been informed of any ruling on costs, despite the suggestion of committee chair Keith Vaz that it would amount to £50,000.

Asked if the events made it difficult for him to work with Mr Rhodes, Mr Hardwick said: "No, it is not difficult for me. We are both professionals, we have a good and sound working relationship."

He acknowledged that he had not informed the county's Police and Crime Panel before suspending Mr Rhodes and had not yet appeared before the panel to explain his actions.