Cleveland Police boss issues statement amid criminal investigation into historical allegation
A police and crime commissioner is being investigated over what ITV News Tyne Tees understands is an allegation of a historical sexual assault.
Steve Turner, a Conservative, was already in the spotlight after he was named in Parliament as having been cautioned some years ago for theft when he worked at a supermarket.
The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, has now begun an investigation, which will be carried out by another force.
Mr Turner has issued a statement addressing the investigation, saying:
"Yesterday I was made aware by the Independent Office of Police Conduct that they had received a referral from the Police and Crime Panel in relation to a historical allegation.
"I am appalled at the allegation and the connotations around it. That said, I genuinely believe that it is right and proper that all allegations are taken seriously and that an independent investigation takes place.
An IOPC spokesperson said: "Any allegation that a criminal offence may have been committed by a police and crime commissioner (PCC) must be referred by the appropriate authority to the IOPC to determine whether the matter should be investigated.
"We have now begun a managed investigation following a complaint referral from the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel regarding the alleged conduct of the current PCC prior to taking up the role.
"This investigation, which follows an allegation of a serious non-recent criminal offence, will be carried out by a force from another area under our direction and control.
"We have contacted the complainant to make them aware of our involvement.
"As this investigation is at a very early stage, it would not be appropriate to comment further."
Mr Turner's office said he has no plans to resign or temporarily step down.
The allegation comes as Mr Turner faces mounting pressure to resign following historical allegations of theft.
In September the Labour MP for Middlesbrough, Andy McDonald, used qualified privilege in the House of Commons to accuse Steve Turner of for ‘systematic theft of merchandise from his then employer’
He said: "On the topic of Police and Crime Commissioner elections, is she as staggered as I am to learn that the Conservative Party's PCC for Cleveland, Steve Turner, who was elected earlier this year, was in fact sacked in the early 2000s for systematic theft of merchandise from his then employer, Safeway supermarket, at their Norton store?"
He continued: "Does she agree with me that it is totally untenable for someone who was engaged in such criminal behaviour to hold the position of PCC and he must resign from his role with immediate effect?
At the time Mr Turner said: "This is an appalling use of parliamentary privilege and I will be calling on Mr McDonald to retract his unsubstantiated allegations."