THE Home Secretary has been asked to investigate whether the decision to pay £250,000 in perks to West Yorkshire’s former chief constable, Sir Norman Bettison, was lawful.
Bradford West MP George Galloway has requested the investigation in a formal Parliamentary question to Theresa May on the controversial payments.
He has also asked whether the former West Yorkshire Police Authority sought either legal advice or approval from the Home Office when setting up a lucrative package of perks on top of Sir Norman’s salary when he was appointed in 2007.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson, who was chairman of the police authority at the time, has stood by the payments on the basis there was legal advice they could be made.
But that has been thrown into doubt by recent moves by the North Yorkshire PCC, Julia Mulligan, to recover £100,000 in perks provided to former North Yorkshire chief constable Grahame Maxwell and his deputy Alan Briggs on the grounds they were unlikely to have had a legal basis.
The issue revolves round national regulations governing police pay which state officers should only receive payments on top of their salaries according to a prescribed set of criteria.
Sir Norman received a salary of around £160,000 a year when he was appointed but was then also given an annual payment of £34,000 for a car or cars, despite also being provided with a chauffeur-driven car for all official duties.
He also received £8,500 for “health and wellbeing” which was for private health insurance and gym membership – both benefits covering the chief constable and his immediate family.
Benefits in the package also included £6,800 for “personal development”.
Last night Mr Burns-Williamson insisted the payments were lawful and said external auditors had deemed them appropriate. This position contrasts with external auditors for both North Yorkshire and Cleveland police authorities who found such payments had no lawful basis.
The PCC said: “After further consideration I can see no legal basis in all the circumstances in West Yorkshire on which I can demand any of the money to be returned.”