Philip Allott accused of 'sexist and misogynistic' behaviour as his own staff call for him to quit

Pressure on under-fire North Yorkshire police commissioner Philip Allott to resign from his post at a public meeting tomorrow has intensified after the “overwhelming majority” of his 32-strong team of staff signed a letter saying they have no confidence in him - and accused of him making “sexist and misogynistic comments” towards female colleagues.

The letter, which has been leaked to The Yorkshire Post and is due to be discussed at tomorrow's Police and Crime Panel meeting, states that the employees were “appalled” by his recent comments on Radio York about Sarah Everard’s murder in which he suggested women should be more “streetwise” about powers of arrest and that Ms Everard should not have “submitted” to arrest by her killer Wayne Couzens.

The letter, which was sent to the chief executive of the commissioner's office last Friday, states: “This incident must be placed in the context of our growing concern about his behaviour towards colleagues. You are already aware of sexist and misogynistic comments which have been made to female colleagues and the shock with which these have been witnessed by senior members of both services. You are also aware of his belittling behaviour towards both female and male colleagues, often in front of staff.”

Mr Allott told The Yorkshire Post tonight he denied the claims.

Philip Allott is the North Yorkshire police and crime commissioner.

“I refute all of those allegations. The timing [of the leaking of the letter] has been done at a time to damage my credibility for tomorrow’s meeting.”

Mr Allott is expected to face a vote of no confidence from panel members today but they have no power to make him resign from the £74,400-a-year role. When asked by The Yorkshire Post whether he will resign at the panel meeting or not, Mr Allott said: “You will have to see my reply tomorrow.”

The two-page staff letter said of Mr Allott’s original radio comments: “We are shocked that a person holding the office of Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner could hold, let alone voice, such misogynistic views which are so expressly contrary to the purpose of the role as an advocate for victims.

“As members of the OPFCC, we are all here because we want to make a difference for the people of North Yorkshire and York. We are proud of our work in pursuit of this cause and of our achievements and feel dismayed and let down at how these comments undermine this and bring the Office into disrepute.

“The strength of feeling from the public against Mr Allott has been felt through the complaints and correspondence we have received into the Office and the direct conversations had with victims contacting our team, which convey the significant human impact that his words have had. This has also been felt during the consultation events we have been running, where many of us have had long and difficult discussions with people, some of whom have direct experience of abuse.

“While we are proud that the work of the office and our ability to convey our own passion for tackling these issues has meant that the outcomes of most of these discussions has been very positive, this is tinged by the fact that many of us have also struggled to tell people for whom we work or felt uncomfortable wearing our lanyards.”

The letter adds the situation has also affected their ability to work with other partner organisations.

“Many of us have been confronted by the dismay and anger of our colleagues within police, fire and partner organisations, who feel that they and their services have been brought into shame and disrepute by association.

"They do not see how someone who holds such views can be compatible as a leader of organisations with such progressive values, a view that we share. Some of us have already noticed a shift in our professional relationships, not because they believe we hold the same views or think any less of us, but because they wish to be less associated with our brand and the office while Mr Allott is commissioner. The impact on our ability to drive our work forward is obvious.”

It states that Mr Allott’s response to the situation has made the situation even worse.

“These reasons alone have meant that many of us have considered our positions over the last week. It is testament to our commitment as a team to our work, and how this event has brought us if anything closer together, that we are all still here. And perhaps if this was the extent of it and we believed his apology and commitment to change to be sincere, we might feel that he could regain our confidence.

“Unfortunately, Mr Allott’s reaction to this incident and his behaviour over this last week means that this is nigh on impossible. Mr Allott’s reaction to this, from the moment the news broke, has been dismissive and completely devoid of emotional intelligence or empathy, approaching disregard, for the human impact his words have had.

"His attempts to contextualise what he said, to suggest political intrigue, to believe that this will all blow over and that he will be able to move on without any impact on his integrity, to belittle the volume of concern and complaints, and to attempt to make light and joke about what has happened, betray a lack of contrition and an inability to take the response to his comments seriously, to which we can only listen in disbelief.

“We would like it to be placed on record that we have no confidence in Mr Allott as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and most of us do not readily believe that he can regain our confidence.”

In a formal letter of response to the letter sent to panel member, Mr Allott said: “I would like to state clearly that I refute the secondary allegations apart from one minor issue, about my conduct beyond the central issue, which has caused the complaints to both my office and the panel.”

When asked by The Yorkshire Post, Mr Allott said he would not discuss what the “minor issue” was but would address it at today’s meeting.

His letter added: “With the exception of the minor issue, which was informally resolved at the time, all other issues were only raised after I had met with staff following the radio interview.

“Whilst I have not had sufficient time since the letter has been shared with me to consider the issues in detail, one factor that seems to have been overlooked by the signatures is that I have not yet met a chunk of the team face-to-face apart from some fleeting Teams meetings, as a lot of people are working from home, due to Covid restrictions.

“Moving forwards I am keen to gain their trust and confidence by my actions and have started discussing this with my Chief Executive.”

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