Mystery over misconduct report into embattled Yorkshire chief constable

West Yorkshire's crime commissioner is refusing to say when he will publish a report into alleged misconduct by the county's chief constable after he announced his intention to leave the police service.

Chief Constable Mark Gilmore.
Chief Constable Mark Gilmore.

It was announced on Tuesday night that Mark Gilmore, who was suspended in June 2014 amid an investigation into the allegedly corrupt award of police vehicle contracts in his native Northern Ireland, was planning to retire.

Despite being told he had no criminal case to answer last April and having his suspension lifted, he has yet to return to his post and has since been the subject of a misconduct investigation by Lancashire Police.

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The Yorkshire Post yesterday asked West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson’s office whether the Lancashire Police investigation team had reported back and what the findings of the probe were.

A spokesman said in response: “An independent report was received by the Police and Crime Commissioner on July 26 from Lancashire Constabulary setting out the findings of their investigations of conduct issues arising from the 2014 Police Service Northern Ireland criminal investigation into West Yorkshire’s Chief Constable Mark Gilmore.

“The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner subsequently received notification yesterday (09/08) of Mr Gilmore’s intention to retire. The contents of the report will be published as soon as it is practicably possible.”

The Yorkshire Post approached the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association yesterday for a comment from Mr Gilmore on his retirement, but had not received a response last night.

Members of the police and crime panel, the body that scrutinises crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, have not yet been briefed about the reason behind Mr Gilmore’s retirement.

Chair Alison Lowe, a Leeds councillor, said Mr Burns-Williamson was currently on holiday and that she didn’t expect to be briefed by him until the next meeting of the police and crime panel meeting in September.

Coun Lowe said: “I know that the [Lancashire Police misconduct] report is due. I don’t know if it has been delivered.

“The last time I spoke to Mark Burns-Williamson he said he expected it at the end of June.”

She said she was unable to comment on the reasons why Mr Gilmore retired, and did not know if there was “a link with disciplinary”.

But she added: “It is a positive thing for West Yorkshire that we will be able to move on from the last two years and find a permanent chief constable.”

After his suspension was lifted last year following the decision by prosecutors in Northern Ireland, Mr Gilmore has been working on a “transition project” for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the successor body to the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The staff association representing senior officers said in May that he “remains committed to serving the communities of West Yorkshire” and wants the matter to be “resolved as soon as possible”.

At that point, Mr Mark Burns-Williamson said the Lancashire investigation was “due to report back in the near future”.

A spokeswoman said: “The IPCC decided that this matter should be subject to a local investigation and Lancashire Constabulary agreed to conduct this investigation on behalf of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“They have kept the PCC fully briefed on the progress and direction of their independent investigation and they are due to report back in the near future. “Mark Gilmore has been temporarily redeployed to work with the National Police Chiefs’ Council while the investigation takes place. It would be inappropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

Chief Constable Mark Polin, chairman of the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association, said in May: “Mark Gilmore remains committed to working alongside the police and crime commissioner to serve the communities of West Yorkshire. “We are disappointed at the length of time the investigation has taken, which follows satisfactory resolution of the Northern Ireland and IPCC investigations, and Mr Gilmore looks forward to this matter being resolved as soon as possible.”

The decision not to prosecute Mr Gilmore was announced last April by prosecutors, who said there was “insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.”

Mr Gilmore, who grew up in Belfast and spent most of his career there, was one of several officers who faced claims including bribery, misconduct in public office and procuring misconduct in public office.

He was suspended on full pay in June 2014 – a little over a year after his appointment – when details of the investigation came to light. Mr Burns-Williamson said the suspension was “a necessity in the public interest until the full facts have been established”.

Dee Collins took over as Temporary Chief Constable. At the time of his suspension, Mr Gilmore, who attended police interview in Belfast voluntarily, insisted he had always acted with honesty and integrity.