Police boss may sue as job inquiry launched

A Chief Constable was considering legal action last night after the police watchdog announced it was investigating a claim that he used “undue influence” to appoint a junior member of staff.

The head of Cleveland Police, Sean Price, said he believed the allegation was “malicious” and he warned that anyone “initiating and spreading incorrect information” could be sued for defaming his character.

The allegation, which relates to the appointment of a civilian worker in late 2008, came to light during an investigation by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary into Cleveland Police Authority.

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Mr Price denied having taken part in the staff recruitment process, adding: “I further believe the allegation is mischievous in seeking to cause comparison with recent events in other forces.”

Mr Price’s comments relate to North Yorkshire Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell, a former Cleveland officer who admitted gross misconduct earlier this month after he was found to have helped a relative jump the queue during a shambolic officer recruitment exercise. Mr Maxwell, the first Chief Constable to face gross misconduct charges for 34 years, was allowed to remain in his job but given a final written warning.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will investigate the allegation against Mr Price.

A separate criminal probe, led by Warwickshire Chief Constable Keith Bristow and conducted by North Yorkshire detectives, has already begun into individuals who have current or past associations with the police authority.

A commission spokesman said: “The IPCC is not actively involved in this criminal investigation, but is being kept informed about its progress. The IPCC’s independent investigation will focus on the allegation that Mr Price used undue influence to have an individual appointed to a position within the police force.”