Cheshire police chief cleared on all misconduct counts following £350k enquiry
Ex-Cheshire police chief constable Simon Byrne has been cleared of all allegations made against him, following a £350,000 investigation and enquiry.
The claims against Mr Byrne included bullying and meant that his contract ran out whilst he was suspended during the investigation this year.
The panel dismissed claims that he “exploded” over an episode dubbed puddlegate, when floods delayed his journey to work. He had also faced a claim that he had assigned characters from the TV series Dad’s Army to staff to suggest they were not performing to standard.
Claims that the chief constable arrested a suspect as part of a competition with other senior officers were also dismissed. There was also no evidence, the panel said, that Byrne was “aggressive, red in the face, spat and waved his arms in the air when berating” a witness.
Byrne was previously deputy chief constable for Greater Manchester and assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan police.
The panel noted that his arrival in Cheshire from the Met had been greeted by some with concern. It dismissed some witness statements against him as exaggerated or wrong, and in other instances found Byrne’s behaviour did not breach standards.
The panel, chaired by an independent barrister, said the costly and time-consuming process of investigating the claims should have been avoided. “We understand that it was difficult for some staff to adapt, and we have a degree of sympathy towards them. But they attributed malevolence to his behaviour when there was no justification for doing so. This, we believe, explains the preponderance of allegations which were trivial or exaggerated.”
David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire said: “When faced with such allegations … I believed I had no realistic alternative but to place the matter before an independent panel for determination of the facts. Any other course would have been against my core values of fairness and openness.”
Byrne said: “The whole case and allegations against me have been rejected and I suspect that members of the public will be astonished that, for example, one of the allegations involved me ‘misapplying’ my time as chief constable in responding to a 999 call from a victim of domestic violence, assisting in the search for the offender and transporting him to a custody centre.”
Joanne Moorcroft, secretary of the Cheshire police branch of Unison, said: “Every one of them genuinely believed and still believes that they were the victim of bullying and inappropriate behaviour.”