My career ended too soon, says ex-Yorkshire police chief after court hearing

The former Chief Constable of West Yorkshire has claimed that his police career was ended 'prematurely and unnecessarily' after he retired from the force while facing a possible public misconduct hearing.

Former West Yorkshire Police chief constable Mark Gilmore arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Mark Gilmore spoke at the conclusion of a two-day High Court hearing into whether the county’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) failed in his duty to make a formal decision on whether he had a case to answer for misconduct. The ex-Chief Constable was suspended in 2014 amid an investigation into claims he had an inappropriate relationship with bosses at a car dealership in Northern Ireland, but was found to have no criminal case to answer.

A later report by a senior Lancashire Police officer found that Mr Gilmore did have a case to answer on one of two misconduct allegations against him.

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After receiving the report on July 26 last year, PCC Mark Burns-Williamson came to the view that there was a case to answer on both allegations, meaning the man he appointed in 2013 would potentially face an embarrassing public misconduct hearing.

Mark Gilmore pictured with Mark Burns-Williamson in 2013.

But in August Mr Gilmore announced he would retire on full pension, meaning he was no longer subject to misconduct proceedings.

After hearing evidence from Mr Gilmore’s legal team and the PCC’s over two days at the Administrative Court, Mr Justice Supperstone reserved judgement in the case.

In a statement issued at the end of the hearing, Belfast-born Mr Gilmore said that he and his family awaited the judgement of the court “on this narrow point of law”.

He said: “I have been exonerated of any wrongdoing by two independent bodies during my time as Chief Constable of West Yorkshire.

Mark Gilmore pictured with Mark Burns-Williamson in 2013.

“Yet, my police career, which spanned 33 years, ended prematurely and unnecessarily.”

During the hearing, the court was told that Mr Gilmore was facing a ‘second wave’ of allegations relating to his personal conduct, including that made comments of a sexual nature to female staff and asked his subordinates to pick up his wife from an airport, at the time he retired.

He described these as “anonymous, unsubstantiated allegations which were neither investigated nor put to me and, as a result, I was denied the opportunity of making strong rebuttal testimony”.

He said: “Throughout my fourteen months as Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, I was extremely proud to lead the force and to serve all its communities.

“I worked hard with many capable colleagues to transform the force from being at financial risk and under-performing to being a world-class policing service.

“I remain steadfast that I did nothing wrong and always acted with honesty and integrity.”

The case centres on whether the PCC is obliged to make a formal case to answer decision about Mr Gilmore’s alleged misconduct. John Beggs QC, who represented Mr Burns-Williamson, said in a written argument to the High Court: “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.”