Cheshire Chief Constable hearing continues
A disciplinary panel has decided not to throw out a series of bullying allegations against a chief constable, despite “flaws” in the investigation.
Cheshire Constabulary’s Simon Byrne is alleged to have “exhibited volatile, unpredictable and offensive behaviour”. He was suspended in August but denies the allegations, for incidents which occur between May 2014 and March 2017.
His lawyers applied to have the gross misconduct claims dismissed following “procedural errors”. The panel conceded that there had been flaws in the investigation but that they did not cause serious prejudice.
Gerry Boyle QC, representing Mr Byrne, said he had never been informed he was under investigation and had not been interviewed. He also said that the investigation was “littered with procedural errors and irregularities.”
However, giving evidence last week, Mr Keane said he did not understand why Mr Byrne had not been interviewed by the North Yorkshire Police officers commissioned to look into the allegations. He said that on some occasions “it seems absolute normal practice wasn’t followed”. He denied trying to encourage investigating officers to arrive at a more serious finding regarding the allegations.
Panel chairman Rachel Crasnow QC said the absence of interviews “clearly shows the potential for a breach of natural justice” and that the failure to inform Mr Byrne of all the allegations against him “may have been inadequate”.
Rejecting the application for the proceedings to be stayed, Ms Crasnow said “a fair hearing can still proceed”.
The hearing has been adjourned until 2 July.
A spokesperson for the office of the police and crime commissioner for Cheshire said: “The independent panel in the hearing of Simon Byrne has rejected the chief constable’s application to have the hearing dismissed.
“The independent panel stated that there was no significant prejudice or lasting harm caused to CC Byrne. It was the panel’s clear view that CC Byrne can have a fair hearing.
“However, chief constable Byrne’s legal team has indicated that they intend to challenge the independent panel’s decision via a judicial review, subject to them securing funding. Subject to the outcome of any judicial review proceedings, the case will reconvene on Monday 2 July 2018.
“It is unfortunate that witnesses, who have been waiting for a significant amount of time to give evidence, will have yet a further delay before they are able to tell their story”.