Ex-West Yorkshire Chief Constable sues crime commissioner over secret conduct report
West Yorkshire's former Chief Constable is taking legal action against the county's crime commissioner over his handling of a secret report into his conduct, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.
Mark Gilmore, who retired from policing last summer, has applied to the High Court in London for a judicial review over what he says is the “continuing failure” of Mark Burns-Williamson to rule on whether he has a case to answer for misconduct. Mr Burns-Williamson has denied the claim.
Mr Gilmore, who was told in 2015 that he had no criminal case to answer in relation to the allegedly corrupt award of police vehicle contracts in his native Northern Ireland, announced his retirement on August 9.
This was two weeks after an independent Lancashire Police report into his conduct was received by the West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner on July 26.
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Mr Gilmore was suspended on full pay from his role as Chief Constable in June 2014 after the investigation was launched by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Although he was told he had no criminal case to answer and the suspension was lifted, Mr Gilmore became the subject of a misconduct investigation by Lancashire Police and never returned to his post.
It is understood that papers lodged at the Administrative Court say Mr Burns-Williamson has failed to make a decision on whether Mr Gilmore has a case to answer for misconduct in the 15 days allowed after receiving the report.
They were lodged with the court on April 4 and the police and crime commissioner’s office received a sealed claim form on April 26.
Ernie Waterworth, a solicitor with Belfast-based MTB, who is representing Mr Gilmore, said: “I can confirm that Judicial Review proceedings have been lodged with the administrative court on behalf of my client, Mr Mark Gilmore.
“This is in respect of the continuing failure by the PCC for West Yorkshire to comply with his statutory obligation to make a case to answer decision following receipt of the Lancashire Police report”.
The police and crime commissioner’s office has declined to publish the Lancashire Police report in the ten months since it was completed, despite a number of requests to do so.
Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Yorkshire Post made in December last year, an official said the report, and correspondence between the PCC’s office and Lancashire Police, were being withheld.
They added: “Consideration of your request has been complicated since November 2016 by the fact that persons with an interest in information in the investigation report and in emails between the OPCC and Lancashire Police have objected to disclosure of the same and have intimated civil proceedings against the Commissioner.
“Civil proceedings have more recently been issued against the Commissioner, in which the misconduct investigation and the question of publication of the investigation report are in issue.”
Mark-Burns-Williamson said in a statement last night: “We are aware of Mark Gilmore’s claim and the claim is denied in full. We will be submitting a response to this effect to the court in accordance with the legal process.”
The investigation which prompted the suspension of Belfast-born Mr Gilmore was over the awarding of a number of PSNI vehicle contracts.
Former Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland was among those questioned as part of the probe, but will not now face any charges. Civil action has now been launched against PSNI over its handling of the case.
A total of nine people, including a number of other police officers, were questioned as part of the PSNI investigation. None were ultimately charged.
It emerged last year that Mr Gilmore was able to retire from policing last year despite facing misconduct allegations at the time, because changes to police procedures stopping this from happening only came into force after the allegations were raised.
After his suspension was lifted following the decision by prosecutors in Northern Ireland, Mr Gilmore worked on a “transition project” for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the successor body to the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Dee Collins was appointed as Temporary Chief Constable during his suspension, and has now given the job on a permanent basis.