Yorkshire police chief hits back at ‘spurious’ whistleblower allegations

Former West Yorkshire Chief Constable Mark Gilmore.
Former West Yorkshire Chief Constable Mark Gilmore.

West Yorkshire’s former Chief Constable was accused of misusing police resources and making comments of a sexual nature to female staff in the period before he retired from the force, the county’s crime commissioner has revealed.

The claims made via the force’s anonymous whistleblower reporting system in 2014, the year Mr Gilmore was suspended from his role amid a criminal investigation into his relationship with a leading Northern Irish car dealership, emerged in papers filed at the High Court. No charges were brought against him as a result of the criminal probe.

I decided that continuing with another conduct investigation would not be in the public interest as it would have resulted in significant additional costs and a further delay in restoring stability and leadership to West Yorkshire Police.

Mark Burns-Williamson

Mr Gilmore, appointed as West Yorkshire Police’s top officer in 2013, has described the whistleblower allegations as “spurious, anonymous” claims used to stop him returning to his post after his suspension was lifted.

As reported in The Yorkshire Post on Saturday, Mr Gilmore, who had only been in post for 14 months at the time of his suspension, was alleged to have been involved in an “inappropriate relationship” with senior officials from Donnelly Motor Group (DMG). He was also accused of using his professional relationship with DMG to get a better deal when he bought a VW Golf for his son Mark Gilmore Junior in 2014.

The Chief Constable, who insists he was done nothing wrong, had his suspension lifted in 2015 when Northern Irish prosecutors said he and eight others, including the owner of DMG, had no criminal case to answer.

After commissioning a separate investigation into his Mr Gilmore’s conduct, West Yorkshire’s crime commissioner then decided he had a case to answer for misconduct, meaning the man he appointed in 2013 would potentially face an embarrassing public hearing. Mr Gilmore retired from policing in August 2016, meaning he was no longer subject to misconduct proceedings.

He is applying for a judicial review into what he says is the failure of Mark Burns-Williamson to make a decision on whether he has a misconduct case to answer.

In documents filed at the Administrative Court, the PCC said claims were made against Gilmore via the Professional Standards Department anonymous reporting system on February 14, 2014, and August 7, 8 and 9 the same year.

Among the claims, denied by Mr Gilmore, were that he “treated colleagues inappropriately, swearing and throwing items at staff in rage”, and “made comments of a sexual nature to female staff”.

It is also alleged that he “misused police resources, asking staff to drive and wait for him at social events not connected to work, and pick his wife up from the airport”.

And he was accused of by-passing the official procurement process “in order to employ a friend into a senior management role”.

The PCC said that in August 2015, Mr Gilmore was given formal notice of the allegations and responded in October, “requesting further particulars and denying the allegations in strong terms”.

Mr Burns-Williamson said in a separate statement to The Yorkshire Post: “In late July 2016, I was presented with the final independent report from Lancashire police which provided evidence of possible gross misconduct.

“I had also been made aware of additional allegations made against Mr Gilmore in respect of personal conduct during his time as Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police.

“Whilst I was in the process of considering the findings of the report in accordance with the relevant legal process, Mr Gilmore’s legal representatives were shown the report and made aware of the progress of the investigation into additional allegations, and within days he chose to retire.

“As Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire it is vitally important that I ensure West Yorkshire Police maintains the confidence of the public and can provide a strong and effective police service to the communities of West Yorkshire.

“Given the two years that had elapsed since I was made aware of the Police Service of Northern Ireland investigation I decided that continuing with another conduct investigation would not be in the public interest as it would have resulted in significant additional costs and a further delay in restoring stability and leadership to West Yorkshire Police.”

Mr Gilmore said in response that he “had always behaved with integrity throughout his 32-year career in policing”.

His solicitor Ernie Waterworth said: “Spurious, anonymous allegations surfaced during the time of Mr Gilmore’s suspension when it became obvious that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by him.

“These anonymous allegations were used to continue to justify Mr Gilmore’s redeployment away from his duties at West Yorkshire Police. Mr Gilmore has always strongly denied any such allegations.”

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