Suspended police chief's bid to delay disciplinary hearing is rejected (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Suspended Cleveland Police chief Sean Price fails to delay disciplinary hearing
A LAST-DITCH bid by a suspended police chief to delay a disciplinary hearing has been rejected by a High Court judge.
Cleveland Police chief constable Sean Price went to the High Court in London seeking a judicial review in an attempt to stop the planned hearing going ahead next Tuesday.
Mr Price was referred to the hearing by Cleveland Police Authority to answer three allegations of gross misconduct relating to the recruitment of the daughter of the authority’s former chairman, Dave McLuckie.
Court documents revealed it is alleged that Mr Price involved himself in the recruitment of Mr McLuckie’s daughter to a civilian role, in order to “curry favour” with the ex-authority chief.
It is further alleged that Mr Price then lied about his involvement to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and also instructed his personal assistant, Frances Bage, to lie to the IPCC.
Lawyers for Mr Price argued the hearing should be delayed until the conclusion of a wider criminal investigation, Operation Sacristy, into alleged wrongdoing within the force.
They said any possible criminal proceedings that may arise from the investigation – expected to conclude in April – would be seriously prejudiced if Mr Price was found guilty of misconduct at the disciplinary hearing.
But Mr Justice Irwin said the hearing will only deal with the “discrete allegations”
relating to Mr McLuckie’s daughter – a matter which the Crown Prosecution Service has already concluded will not be the subject of any criminal proceedings.
The judge said: “Taking the facts of this case into account, I reject the proposition that it is arguable that to proceed with these disciplinary proceedings next week will give rise to any real risk of prejudice in any future crown court proceedings – if those ever take place.”
Welcoming the decision, a Cleveland Police Authority spokeswoman said: “We are pleased with the outcome of today’s judicial review.”
A criminal investigation into the conduct of people with associations with the police authority has resulted in Mr Price, Mr McLuckie, along with the force’s former solicitor, Caroline Llewellyn, and an unidentified 42-year-old, remaining on bail as the investigation continues.
Criminal charges were dropped against his deputy, Derek Bonnard, but he is still to face a number of disciplinary matters.
Mr Price was unavailable for comment last night.
John Beggs, for the police authority, asked for £40,000 in costs for yesterday’s hearing, but Mr Justice Irwin ordered Mr Price – who denies any wrongdoing – to pay £12,000 on account, with a detailed assessment of remaining costs at a later date.
Middlesbrough was misspelled “Middlesborough” in a legal document submitted to the High Court by Mr Price’s solicitor Adam Chapman, who works for London law firm Kingsley Napley.