Shipman victims probe for top police officer

Harold Shipman
Harold Shipman
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ONE of the most senior officers at northern England’s largest police force faces a gross misconduct investigation over his role in the destruction of the remains of victims of Harold Shipman without their families’ knowledge.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney of Greater Manchester Police has been served with a gross misconduct notice by the Independent Police Complaints Commission for his oversight role in the disposal of human tissue taken from 12 women killed by the GP.

The notice served against him means his “conduct or actions may have breached...standards of professional behaviour”.

It is understood the samples were kept to establish cause of death and were kept in storage for a number of years to ensure police had the appropriate evidence should the murderer or his family appeal against his conviction.

Greater Manchester Police admitted last year that it had retained the human tissue for more than a decade, before secretly destroying it without their family’s permission. Shipman, whose first position as a GP was in Todmorden before moving to Manchester, was convicted of 15 murders in 2000, but is thought to have killed many more.

Mr Sweeney had been seconded to the police inquiry into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster but returned to GMP after three investigations were launched at the force following a string of allegations made by a serving whistleblower.

And the IPCC revealed yesterday that chief constable Sir Peter Fahy is one of three serving officers at the force to be served with both a criminal and gross misconduct notice as a result of the new inquiries.

Sir Peter has been told he is now subject to a criminal probe “in relation to his alleged support” in an allegedly poorly-handled investigation into a suspected sex offender.

A serving detective superintendent and a detective chief inspector, all serving, as well as a retired officer, have been handed criminal and gross misconduct notices in relation to the same investigation.

The IPCC inquiry was broken down into three investigations - claims concerning Shipman’s victims, allegations against a detective chief inspector, and claims concerning a sexual abuse investigation.

It comes weeks after West Yorkshire Police chief constable Mark Gilmore was suspended while an investigation was carried out over alleged “criminal activity during his time in Northern Ireland”.

Labour’s Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk says Sir Peter should also be suspended, but Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said “nothing has been placed before me at this time” to make him consider his position.

Sir Peter said in a statement: “As a chief constable, you face making complex decisions on a daily basis about many high-risk and challenging situations. It is right that this decision-making is scrutinised and that I am held to account as part of this investigation.”