Cleveland chief constable sacked for gross misconduct

The Chief Constable of Cleveland Police has been dismissed, after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of counts of gross misconduct.

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Sean Price: The full story

by Claire Montgomery

The Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Sean Price, has been sacked after being found guilty of gross misconduct. A disciplinary hearing found he had lied to the police watchdog, and also tried to get a member of staff to lie for him.

Sean Price was being investigated over allegations he used undue influence to get a job for the daughter of his boss, the chairman of the police authority which oversees this force. He has been found guilty of lying about that, and getting a staff member to lie on his behalf.

There is a separate and unrelated investigation into alleged corruption called Operation Sacristy and Sean Price is currently on police bail in that inquiry. He faced 11 further allegations of professional misconduct as part of that inquiry, which he won't face, because he's no longer an officer.

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IPCC Commissioner says Sean Price "almost got away with it"

Nicholas Long, Commissioner of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said Sean Price almost got away with deceiving their investigation.

He told reporters that Mr Price had lied and put pressure on a member of staff to lie on his behalf.

Mr Long said the former Chief Constable used his position to order people to do as he wished and said his standards fell far below those expected of someone in his position.

Sean Price's actions were "shameful", says IPCC

Chief Constable of Cleveland Police Sean Price, who is to be sacked today after being found guilty of gross misconduct Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Sean Price, who has been dismissed as chief constable of Cleveland Police, was branded "shameful" by the police watchdog today after being found guilty of gross misconduct.

A disciplinary hearing concluded that Mr Price misled the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) by lying and by trying to get a member of staff to lie for him.

IPCC commissioner Nicholas Long said Mr Price believed his position meant he could order people to do as he wished, adding that his standards have fallen far below what would be expected.

He said: "Sean Price's attempts to mislead the IPCC investigation by lying and putting pressure on a member of staff to lie on his behalf were shameful."

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Sean Price 'disappointed' at IPCC findings

The former Chief Constable of Cleveland Police has released a statement saying he believes the Independent police Complaints Commission have come to an 'incorrect conclusion'

"Clearly, I am extremely disappointed with the result today. I believe the disciplinary proceedings have sadly come to an incorrect conclusion. When the judgement was delivered and I was offered the chance to put forward mitigation I declined – the panel was mistaken in their finding and I could not seek to argue for a lesser punishment for something I haven’t done. I will therefore be discussing with my lawyers over the next few days how this can be addressed.

It is important that the public be aware that the CPS carefully studied this file and decided there was no criminal case to answer.

– Mr Sean Price, former Chief Constable, Cleveland Police.

He added: "Whilst the burden of proof at misconduct hearings is of a lower standard I am still perplexed as to why a misconduct panel could have found against me in the light of the evidence presented.

Obvious hurdles were placed in the way of me being able to lay the full facts of this case before the panel."

Mr Price went on to give examples:

  • At a directions hearing on 12.9.12, my lawyers asked that three witnesses should be called and the Chair of the panel agreed that in the interests of justice they should attend.
  • None of the three prosecution witnesses attended, we were therefore denied the opportunity to cross examine them.
  • In addition, two defence witnesses indicated that whilst in principle they would be prepared to give evidence, on legal advice they could not until the criminal investigation (Operation Sacristy) was completed.
  • A main prosecution witness significantly changed their account of events, both before and during the hearing.

I realise that the misconduct regulations give the panel wide discretion in these areas, but I believe a combination of factors meant that the panel were left in the position of making decisions without the full facts having been presented.

I have been, and remain, immensely proud of the achievements of Cleveland Police and the dedication of its officers and staff. They have produced record falls in crime and disorder and won the confidence and support of the communities they serve, winning the title of Police Force of the year in 2011. I am confident this success will continue.

– Mr Sean Price, former Chief Constable, Cleveland Police.

On a personal note, I continue to deny any wrongdoing is this or any other matter.

My action for unlawful arrest and detention will continue and I am pleased at least that Sacristy has conceded it is “unlikely” that I will face criminal charges.

– Mr Sean Price, former Chief Constable, Cleveland Police.

Sean Price should 'face consequences'

The MP for Stockton South, James Wharton, has said that the former Cleveland Police Chief Constable should 'face the consequences of his actions'.

It was announced this morning that Sean Price has been found guilty of gross misconduct. He is expected to be dismissed later today.

Mr Price has been found guilty of gross misconduct by an independent panel and it is right he faces the consequences of his actions. The sooner Cleveland Police can move forward and put this behind them the better, but that will be difficult with the criminal investigation on-going. Whilst I understand it is unlikely Mr Price will face any criminal prosecution Sacristy is about far more than one man.

The criminal investigation must be allowed to run its course but with an expected end date well into 2014 and at a cost of over £100,000 per month the sooner it is concluded the better.

– Stockton South MP, James Wharton

A new Chief Constable is expected to be elected by the Police and Crime Commissioner who will be elected on 15 November.