Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dismissed British police sergeant cleared of assaulting woman prisoner must be reinstated after bosses lose legal fight

Incomprehensible British judges

A police officer who was sacked after he dragged a female prisoner across a station floor and threw her headfirst into a cell must get his job back, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mark Andrews was jailed in 2010 for assaulting Pamela Someville, 60, before having his conviction quashed on appeal shortly afterwards.

But despite his acquittal Wiltshire Police still wanted him to lose his job, however, the High Court has today ordered he is reinstated.

During his trial CCTV footage was shown of the 6ft 3in policeman dragging 5ft 2in Ms Somerville, who weighs 8st, across a custody suite, throwing her into a cell and leaving her unconscious.

The footage then shows her bleeding heavily from an eye gash with blood shooting onto the floor.

In his judgment Mr Justice Ouseley said his order must now be followed by the force 'with full regard to its conclusions, and the failure of this unarguable challenge'.

Wiltshire Police's chief constable Pat Geenty confirmed they would not take any further legal action to block his return to the £36,000 a year job.

'I will now enter into discussions with Mark Andrews and his representatives in relation to his integration back into Wiltshire Police as a warranted police officer,' he said.

'The Police Appeals Tribunal accepted that Mark Andrews' actions were intolerant and discreditable and I felt they were a disgrace - there was no place in Wiltshire Police for this behaviour then nor is there now.

'While I believe the Police Discipline Panel's decision to dismiss Mark Andrews was correct, I accept the legal authority which states he must be reinstated.'

Ms Somerville had been detained at the police station in Melksham for failing to provide a sample for a breath test after being found asleep in her car. The charges were later dropped.

The case against Andrews was brought after a fellow officer, PC Rachel Webb, reported the incident to senior officers and gave evidence against Sgt Andrews.

He was jailed for six months in September 2010 by a district judge at Oxford Magistrates' Court, who condemned him for abusing a position of trust. He spent six days in prison before being bailed when a appeal was launched and his conviction was quashed.

Despite the conviction being overturned Wiltshire Police sacked the officer, saying that, while not criminal, his behaviour had fallen 'well below the standards expected'.

Wiltshire Police then asked the High Court to overturn the decision of the Independent Police Appeals Tribunal which on December 2011 ordered the force to reinstate Sgt Andrews to his job and award him back pay.

Speaking then the force said it was 'surprised and disappointed' at the tribunal's ruling. A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said today: 'Wiltshire Police has today been informed that it has not been successful in seeking a judicial review in the Mark Andrews case.

'Wiltshire Police would like to point out that the written judgement levels some criticism at the Chief Constable. It is important to note that this refers to previous Chief Constable Brian Moore and not current Chief Constable Pat Geenty.'

Christopher Hoare, of Wiltshire Police Authority, said they would abide by the judgement despite not agreeing with it. 'I clearly remember the impression made by the CCTV images from the Melksham custody suite. 'I stressed at the time that the Police Authority believed that this was an isolated incident which did not reflect the standards we expect of Wiltshire's police officers.

'A Wiltshire Police disciplinary panel decided that dismissal was the appropriate sanction for Mark Andrews. 'An independent Police Appeal Tribunal decided by a majority verdict that he should be re-instated. The Police Authority felt that the public of Wiltshire would expect that decision to be challenged, and so it was.

'However, today the courts have declined to over-rule the Police Appeal Tribunal, meaning that although the maximum fine imposed on Mark Andrews stands, he cannot be dismissed. 'Whilst we may not agree with that, we will abide by the judgement.'

Original report here

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