Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Corrupt British Chief Constable gets off with a warning

A chief constable who helped a family member jump the queue to apply for a job in his force narrowly escaped the sack yesterday.

Grahame Maxwell, 50, was also accused of trying to ‘discredit’ the misconduct investigation for nepotism that was launched against him and his deputy, Adam Briggs.

Assistant Chief Constable Sue Cross was among several senior North Yorkshire officers praised for their ‘integrity’ and ‘courage’ in standing up to the two police chiefs and challenging their actions.

The affair began in February last year when up to 500,000 phone calls were made to a hotline in response to a recruitment drive for 60 to 70 jobs. The system was ‘overwhelmed’ and most applicants were unable to get through.

Mr Maxwell agreed to allow a member of staff to ring a relative of Mr Briggs – referred to as Ms A – who wanted to apply for a job but had not been able to get through to complete the initial stage of the application process.

Challenged by Miss Cross, Mr Maxwell defended the move, said a report published yesterday by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Instead of backing down, she told her boss she would report the matter to the police authority if he failed to do so.

The IPCC said Mr Maxwell reported the help given to Ms A to police authority chiefs, but failed to mention he had helped a male member of his extended family in a similar way. The man, identified only as Mr B, also wanted a constable’s job and had failed to get through on the hotline.

Mr Maxwell rang the family member himself and completed the vetting questionnaire. Mr B was not entitled to a ‘call back’, said the IPCC.

Eight days after the police authority was informed about Ms A, Mr Maxwell came clean about helping Mr B. The chief constable went to see the force solicitor and allegedly described himself as an ‘a***hole’.

North Yorkshire Police convened a disciplinary hearing, held in private at a secret location, which heard evidence from the IPCC report. Mr Maxwell, who earns £133,000 a year, admitted the sackable offence.

He said he had ‘behaved in a manner apt to bring discredit upon, and undermine public confidence in, the police service’. Yesterday he was given a final written warning for gross misconduct.

Nicholas Long, a commissioner at the IPCC, said Mr Maxwell had shown an ‘unacceptable attitude’ which ‘seriously undermined’ his reputation. He added: ‘The IPCC at various stages has been accused of dis-proportionality.

‘We have been challenged by some senior policing figures and our investigators’ abilities were questioned by the chief constable in an unacceptable attempt to discredit the investigation.’

Mr Briggs, 49, who earned £109,000 a year, was found to have breached the code of conduct and was given ‘management advice’. He was allowed to retire on a full pension after 31 years’ service.

A statement from Mr Maxwell’s law firm Kingsley Napley said: ‘He is sincerely sorry and saddened that a very difficult week resulted in errors of judgement, but continues to lead the North Yorkshire Police and wishes only to focus on doing his best for the force in his position as its chief constable.’

Mr Maxwell, married with one son, became North Yorkshire’s chief constable in 2007, joining from South Yorkshire Police.

Original report here

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