A former North Yorkshire police officer bidding to be the county’s crime commissioner was reprimanded by his force after a misconduct hearing where he admitted having an inappropriate relationship with a junior female colleague, it can be revealed today.
Mike Pannett, a York-born author who served 20 years at North Yorkshire Police and the Metropolitan Police in London, is standing for election as police and crime commissioner (PCC) as an independent candidate on May 5.
The well-known policing pundit has now revealed that he left North Yorkshire Police in 2007 a few months after being given ‘management advice’ following an internal force investigation and a disciplinary hearing.
He told The Yorkshire Post that he had a short, “ill-advised” relationship with a single female police officer, while he was a Temporary Sergeant and before he was married. It is understood the woman is still a serving police officer.
If elected as crime commissioner, Mr Pannett, an outspoken critic of Government cuts to police funding, would have control of the force’s £143m-a-year budget and the power to hire and fire its chief constable.
Mr Pannett revealed details of the misconduct hearing after being approached by The Yorkshire Post, in response to suggestions from sources that it was “the worst kept secret in North Yorkshire Police”.
He claims he was told two months ago that Conservative Central Office might use details of the relationship to “blacken my name” and boost the election chances of his Tory rival, current PCC Julia Mulligan.
He said the relationship was “not something I am proud of” but that he broke it off himself and had been planning to leave North Yorkshire Police anyway as he had already secured a publishing deal.
In a statement, Mr Pannett said an internal investigation found that it was an “ill-advised” relationship.
He said: “At the start of the enquiry I voluntarily relinquished my temporary supervisory position. At its conclusion I was given management advice, all of which I fully accepted. Well before this event I’d already started to write my books and my sideline as an author was registered with the police.
“The two events are wholly unconnected and my decision to pursue a career in writing was based upon personal opportunity and my future earning capacity as an author and business owner versus a PC and nothing else
“I left several months after the hearing and this was my decision alone. This was nearly a decade ago and I’m now happily married with a young family. So I am content to assure the public that it’s not the great scandal that those who want me out of the running want it to be – it’s hardly on a par with the PM’s ‘pig’s head’ headline.
“I am also sure that if anyone was remotely interested in this they would see right through it as a deflection tactic to cover the inefficiencies of the current Conservative PCC.
“I was warned early on that the dirty, bullying and snide aspect of party politics could raise its head at some point, so I’m really not surprised. It has made me even more determined to stand for election as an independent PCC.”
Conservative Central Office and Ms Mulligan declined to comment on Mr Pannett’s claims.
On his official website, Mr Pannett describes serving “nearly twenty years in the police, during which he became one of the highest commended officers”, but makes no mention of the circumstances in which he left. Asked why he had not previously revealed details of the misconduct case and the relationship, Mr Pannett said: “I am not proud of it.”
He said: “I let myself down but I am not the only man in the world who has made that mistake. I have admitted that mistake and learned from that mistake. This was nothing to do with my police work, quite the contrary.
“I was one of the highest commended cops in the country. I made a mistake in the workplace and I had words of advice about it.
“I went to a misconduct hearing and admitted that misconduct and admitted it was a mistake to have a relationship with a serving cop. I have learned from it, I have gone on and got married.”
Since leaving North Yorkshire Police, Mr Pannett, who is married to a retired North Yorkshire police officer, has gone on to write five books recounting his experience as a rural beat officer in the Ryedale district.