Chiefs clash over the outcome of force probe as West Mercia chief asks HMIC to examine investigation.
Chief officers have disagreed over whether to re-open a probe into the conduct of three Fed reps who found themselves under investigation after a meeting with Tory MP Andrew Mitchell.
Addressing members of the Home Affairs Select Committee, West Mercia Chief Constable David Shaw (pictured) said he had decided to refer the matter to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) for advice.
He told MPs that he believed the handling of the matter had been “clumsy” – expressed concerns over the investigation process and suggested the issue needed to be revisited.
But Warwickshire Chief Andy Parker and CC Chris Sims of West Midlands Police disagreed, claiming they were satisfied their senior teams had reached a considered conclusion.
West Mercia carried out a probe into the conduct of three Fed reps who called the integrity of Mr Mitchell into question in front of media after a meeting to discuss allegations that the Tory MP had called officers in Downing Street “plebs”.
The investigation, which was carried out under the supervision of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), concluded that management advice was the best sanction after consulting the senior leadership teams from the other forces involved.
But IPCC Deputy Chair Deborah Glass insisted the officers should have faced formal disciplinary proceedings over whether they had deliberately given a misleading representation of their exchanges with Mr Mitchell to the media.
During the hearing in Westminster, MPs were told by investigating officer Insp Jerry Reakes-Williams he originally concluded that the Fed reps should face misconduct proceedings.
Insp Reakes-Williams stressed that he did not believe the officers intended to mislead over their account of the meeting, and that the final sanction of proceedings would be a final written warning if the matters against them were proven.
However, chief officer teams from the three forces later decided that management advice, rather than formal proceedings, was the best course of action when they examined the report.
CC Shaw – along with his ACPO colleagues – told committee members that he had already written to Mr Mitchell formally apologising for what had happened.
He said he believed the report needed to be independently reviewed, highlighting that the matter had damaged public confidence in the police. He suggested this could be done by HMIC appointing another chief to conduct an investigation.
But he accepted that there was a disagreement with his two colleagues – and that any re-investigation would only apply to Ken McKaill – the Fed rep from his own force.
CC Shaw told members that he had originally wanted the IPCC to independently investigate the matter – the watchdog had said it was unable to do so because of a lack of resources.
Earlier in the committee hearing, Ms Glass confirmed that while the supervised investigation had been thorough and sound, she believed the conclusions were ultimately wrong.
Ms Glass, who appeared with Chair Dame Anne Owers, told MPs: “The evidence and conclusions were so at odds that I though I had ought to put that on public record.”
From Police Oracle