Ex-West Yorkshire chief accused of 'disingenuous' claim after losing legal battle with police and crime commissioner

West Yorkshire police commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, left, and  former West Yorkshire Police chief constable Mark Gilmore.
West Yorkshire police commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, left, and former West Yorkshire Police chief constable Mark Gilmore.
Have your say

A retired police chief who had denied a series of allegations about his behaviour has lost a High Court fight with a police and crime commissioner.

What were the allegations made against ex-West Yorkshire Police chief Mark Gilmore?

Mark Gilmore, who became chief constable of West Yorkshire in 2013, complained that West Yorkshire police commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson had unfairly failed to decide whether he had a ''case to answer'' after misconduct allegations were made.

He asked a judge to order Mr Burns-Williamson to ''make a case-to-answer decision''.

But Mr Justice Supperstone, who recently analysed rival arguments at a High Court trial in London, dismissed his application.

He said Mr Burns-Williamson was "under no obligation to made a case-to-answer determination".

The judge spelled out a serious of allegations made against Mr Gilmore when he was heading the West Yorkshire force in a written ruling published on Tuesday.

Mr Gilmore had been accused of having an "inappropriate relationship" with bosses at a car dealership; using that relationship to "benefit personally via the purchase of a VW Golf for his son"; treating colleagues "inappropriately"; making "comments of a sexual nature to female staff"; misusing police resources and bypassing an "official procurement process" in order to "employ a friend in a senior management role".

He denied the allegations.

Mr Justice Supperstone said Mr Gilmore had said he was retiring in August 2016 - about two weeks after Mr Burns-Williamson was presented with an investigator's report into the car dealership allegations.

The judge said the central issue he had considered related to whether legislation required a police commissioner to make a case-to-answer decision when the officer who was under investigation had retired.

Mr Burns-Williamson had said he was "contemplating" making a decision that Mr Gilmore had a "gross misconduct case to answer" in relation to the car dealership allegations - prior to Mr Gilmore's retirement announcement.

But he said he had "not made that decision in a formal sense".

The judge concluded that Mr Burns-Williamson had "not in fact" made a decision and said he was not now under an obligation to make a "case-to-answer determination".

Jeremy Johnson QC, who represented Mr Gilmore, had told the judge that a police watchdog and prosecutors found ''no evidence of wrongdoing'' following separate inquiries.

Mr Johnson said all Mr Gilmore was asking was for Mr Burns-Williamson to make a decision on the investigation he initiated.

John Beggs QC, who represented Mr Burns-Williamson, said: ''But for (his) decision to retire, he would have received the decision.

''Further, he knew what the decision would be, which is precisely why he retired when he did, taking his pension and avoiding any further investigation or public misconduct hearing.

''His claim is disingenuous.''

Mr Burns-Williamson said in a statement: "I welcome this clear judgement today which dismisses the judicial review claim against me made by the former Chief Constable Mark Gilmore.

“As West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, I have consistently worked in the best interests of West Yorkshire Police and the people we all serve.

“I am pleased that the judgement today means that I can re-focus my efforts on supporting our dedicated police officers and staff working to help keep West Yorkshire safe and feeling safe.

“Later on today I am going to be in Westminster talking to West Yorkshire MPs about the need for more government resources for our police service.

"With that in mind I am reassured that Mr Gilmore rather than the tax payers of West Yorkshire, will be paying for the costs of bringing this case.”

Mr Gilmore, who began his career with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, worked for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and is a former deputy chief constable of Northumbria Police, had been at the trial but was not in court on Tuesday to hear Mr Justice Supperstone announce his decision.

In a statement after the judgement was handed down, Mr Gilmore said: "My aim in bringing this claim was to secure a properly reasoned decision as to whether I had a case to answer.

"Naturally I am disappointed that the PCC has not had to make a case to answer determination but I accept the decision of the Court."