A Welsh police force has been ordered to release information on a senior officerâ€™s failed attempt to become its chief constable.
Howard Roberts, formerly Deputy Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire, applied for the job as chief constable of Dyfed-Powys in 2008. But the post went instead to Ian Arundale â€“ leaving Mr Roberts with suspicions about the selection process.
Now, a tribunal has upheld his claim under the Freedom of Information Act for information about his failed bid, and ordered Dyfed- Powys Police Authority to give him more information about what happened.
That includes personal data on an HM Inspectorate of Constabulary official who sat in on the selection committee meeting and who Mr Roberts believes stymied his chances of appointment to the post.
Judge David Farrar QC told the First Tier Tribunal that HMIC representative, Kate Flannery, had left members of the committee â€œshocked and deeply disturbedâ€ after delivering a â€œvery critical appraisalâ€ of Mr Roberts which stood in sharp contrast to her earlier written assessment of him.
He added: â€œThey (the committee members) may have felt that they were left with no choice as to their selection. They duly appointed Ian Arundale.
â€œIt is accepted on all sides that he was an excellent candidate and that any shortcomings in the selection procedure do not reflect in any way on his suitability for high office.
â€œThat, however, does not dispel grave concerns as to what took placeâ€.
Members of the seven-strong committee â€œdid not pull their punchesâ€ when they later wrote to the HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, and the Home Secretary.
And Judge Farrar said the Home Office had â€œacknowledged… that the procedure had been mishandled and that Kate Flanneryâ€™s conduct was open to questionâ€.
Dyfed-Powys Police Authority has disclosed to Mr Roberts some documents relating to what happened, although some of them only in redacted form, but had declined to disclose others, such as personal data on third parties, including Ms Flannery.
Upholding Mr Robertsâ€™ challenge, Judge Farrer said: â€œThere can be no question as to the substantial public interest in the integrity of the selection procedure for any public office, but most particularly an office as responsible and politically sensitive as that of Chief Constable.â€
And he added: â€œAs to Ms Flannery… we do not consider that disclosure of her personal data, as contained in the relevant redactions, would be unfair and we think it in most cases necessary for the purposes of Mr Robertsâ€™ legitimate interest in discovering exactly what happened.â€
Welsh police force ordered to release details of its selection process for top cop