Cleveland Police officer barred from force after sexually assaulting women at Christmas party

Lee Morgan, 45, was the most senior officer when he groped two women’s buttocks during a social night out in Yarm, Teesside, last December. Credit: TEESSIDE LIVE/NCJ MEDIA

A police inspector who sexually assaulted two colleagues at a drunken Christmas party has been barred from serving again.

Lee Morgan, 45, was the most senior officer when he groped two women’s buttocks during a social night out in Yarm, Teesside, last December.

The control room inspector admitted two counts of sexual assault at Teesside Magistrates’ Court last month and will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on 12 December.

He has resigned from Cleveland Police after 23 years as an officer, having an unblemished career up to this point with a number of commendations for his work.

Cleveland Police Chief Constable Mark Webster, who chaired a disciplinary hearing in Stockton-on-Tees, said he was guilty of gross misconduct, and he would have been dismissed if he had he not resigned.

Morgan was barred from working as an officer again.

Mr Webster said: “It is unacceptable for officers who are responsible for enforcing the law to break the law themselves.”

The chief constable was told that the officer’s behaviour breached the professional standards for integrity and was discreditable conduct.

Morgan did not attend the hearing but his police representative read a statement in which he apologised for his behaviour, but was also critical of the investigation and prosecution, saying no account had been given of his mental health at the time.

“I am very remorseful, I apologise whole-heartedly to the victims for any emotional impact on them,” the hearing was told.

He went on to say he was suffering from undiagnosed mental health issues at the time, having worked in a stressful environment for such a long time.

He added: “I have made stupid mistakes through intoxication, mental health and bad decision-making, which often go hand-in-hand.”

Morgan also claimed: “I have done wrong, the punishment far, far outweighs the crime.”

Mr Webster said Morgan was suggesting there had been an “over-zealous” investigation, which the force’s Directorate of Standards and Ethics denied.

Detective Chief Inspector John Bonner, from the directorate, told the hearing the issue of violence against women by officers had come under national scrutiny following a number of high-profile cases.

“It is imperative that policing makes it clear that misconduct of this nature is wholly unacceptable,” he said.

Morgan’s sexual assault on the two junior colleagues was deliberate and there had been no misunderstanding, the hearing was told.

Mr Bonner said: “They should have been able to trust him to the ends of the earth.

“He should have been a role model.

“He acted without a shred of integrity.”

Following the hearing, Mr Bonner said: “Lee Morgan as temporary inspector, held a position of trust and authority to his more junior colleagues and should have been acting as a role model to them.  However, on 15 December 2021 he abused his position by sexually assaulting two female junior colleagues.”

Neither victim, whose identity cannot be reported and who were referred to as witness A and witness B, were willing to give evidence in court, the hearing was told.

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