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Cleveland Police's Chief Constable resigns after less than a year in the role

Mike Veale, who has resigned. Credit: PA Images

The chief constable of Cleveland Police has resigned less than a year into the role, police and crime commissioner Barry Coppinger has announced.

Mike Veale handed in his resignation on Friday after "serious" allegations about his behaviour surfaced.

In a statement, Mr Coppinger said:

My office has been made aware of allegations about the behaviour of chief constable Mike Veale.

On Friday, January 18, Mr Veale resigned with immediate effect.

Due to the serious nature of the allegations, the matter has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

– Barry Coppinger, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner

Mr Coppinger added that he is unable to comment further on the allegations, as the "appropriate processes" need to take effect.

He also said that arrangements to install an interim chief constable are at an "advanced stage" and that an announcement will be made later on Monday.

Mr Veale was appointed in March last year after working for Wiltshire Police, where he oversaw the investigation into alleged abuse by Sir Edward Heath.

He was investigated over claims that he had deliberately damaged a phone belonging to the Wiltshire force in order to conceal contact relating to the investigation into the former Prime Minister, named Operation Conifer.

In September, the IOPC ruled that there was no evidence he had damaged the phone on purpose or with a motive to conceal evidence, but it said he had a misconduct case to answer because of his differing versions of events.

Mr Veale told colleagues that the phone had been dropped in a golf club car park and inadvertently run over by a vehicle.

He subsequently explained to IOPC investigators that the damage was in fact caused when he swung a club at his golf bag in frustration after playing a poor shot during a round in September 2017.

Following the investigation, IOPC director Catrin Evans said:

The evidence gathered points to Chief Constable Veale damaging his mobile phone entirely by accident.

He then arranged for all data from the damaged phone to be retrieved, and we found no evidence to suggest he was motivated to conceal information.

That Mr Veale chose to give a different account to the truth, both verbally and in writing on several occasions and for some time, in our view amounted to a case to answer for misconduct relating to honesty and integrity.

– Catrin Evans, Independent Office for Police Conduct

Operation Conifer was established to investigate historical abuse allegations against Sir Edward Heath, who was Prime Minister between 1970 and 1974 and died in 2005.

Wiltshire Police concluded that, if Sir Edward had been alive, he would have been interviewed about seven disclosures under criminal caution - but officers stressed no inference of guilt should be drawn from the findings.