Thursday, May 12, 2016

British police force had 13 officers investigated for sexual misconduct in just four years

Pressure is mounting on a scandal-hit police force after it was claimed that thirteen of its officers were probed over claims of sexual misconduct in four years.

Northumbria Police has been accused of having a 'culture of sexism' after a string of allegations against top staff were revealed during an employment tribunal last week.

The hearing comes after a lawyer was sacked for gossiping about a love affair between two married police officers that her force was trying to keep quiet.

The affair - between two senior police officers - is said to have resulted in a violent brawl at a barbecue, with the husband of one of them punching his love rival in the face.

Details of the allegations have emerged during a tribunal brought by Denise Aubrey, an ex-member of the force

It is understood that police officers were called to break up the fight - but records of this were deleted and press officers ordered to deny the story if it got out to the Press.

The latest claim that 13 officers have been probed for sexual misconduct, reported by the Sunday People, is the latest in a string of bombshells against the force.

Former head of legal Denise Aubrey was sacked after she was accused of discussing the relationship with her colleagues at Northumbria Police.

Another scandal at the force heard by the tribunal involved a senior officer allegedly pressuring a vulnerable colleague into a sex act in exchange for confidential information about her boyfriend.

David Borrie, a superintendent at Northumbria Police, allegedly persuaded the younger woman to pleasure him in his car when she asked him to check her new partner's police records.

The co-worker, who was said to have been 'extremely vulnerable' at the time, had asked for Mr Borrie's help because she feared her boyfriend had a history of domestic violence.

Despite the disturbing allegations, the 57-year-old detective was said to have been allowed to keep his job so that he could claim his pension.

In another shocking claim, it is alleged that it was former chief constable Mike Craik - who has himself been at the centre of sensational allegations about the conduct of senior officers at the force - who helped Mr Borrie keep the allegations hushed up.

A tribunal heard how the police chief apparently had a 'quiet word' with Mr Borrie and failed to launch a formal investigation, simply telling his colleague: 'Don't apply for a promotion'.

It was only when the police watchdog carried out an independent probe that Mr Borrie was given an official warning, the hearing was told.

Ms Aubrey claims she was bullied and that Northumbria Police ruined her 'life, mental health and career’.

In her statement, Ms Aubrey said Mr Borrie pursued the civilian member of staff - who cannot be named for legal reasons - and 'groped her in the office'.

She said that he then took her for an afternoon in the pub before pressurising her into performing a sex act.

It was sometime later, when the woman became concerned that her boyfriend might have had a history of domestic violence, that she asked for Mr Borrie's help.

Ms Aubrey said: 'He used the fact that he had this information to get her into his car and again pressurised her into giving him oral sex.'

The woman eventually told her female colleagues and the external probe was launched.

Ms Aubrey said: 'Borrie was not dismissed, whilst it was felt that a criminal charge would not succeed, he had clearly breached police standards.

'Instead, it was decided to move him but to allow him to complete his service so that he could get his pension.

'Mr Craik decided to have a "quiet word" with him and told him "not to bother applying for promotion". However, the IPCC insisted that he received a formal written warning.'

Ms Aubrey also claimed that lower ranking officers were not suspended, despite being accused of much more serious misdemeanours than her.

She said in evidence that, at the time of her suspension, one detective constable was facing allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a female suspect who was on bail and whose charges were later dropped.

She said he was also accused of failing to investigate arson and fraud, misleading other officers about the investigations and disclosing police information to criminals.

Another detective sergeant was facing allegations of serious misconduct, she said.

She said: 'Despite these and more serious allegations, which took many months to investigate, they were never suspended pending their disciplinary hearing.

'They were just moved and continued to have unfettered access to all police information systems.  'In contrast, I was suspended for what I am supposed to have said when I was mentally ill.'

Today's allegations are the latest in a string of bombshell claims in which Northumbria Police are accused of trying to cover up staff misconduct.

It has previously been alleged that Mr Craik had an affair with Carolyn Peacock, one of his assistant chief constables, while she was married to the force's chief superintendent, Jim Peacock.

The alleged tryst is said to have ended in a punch-up, when Mr Peacock, now 60, turned up at Mr Craik's home during a summer barbecue and allegedly assaulted him.

The tribunal was told how Mr Craik's wife Sharon pressed a panic alarm, leading to armed officers to storm the property.

But it is alleged that the incident was later wiped from the police log, amid fears it would be leaked to the Press.

Yesterday, the tribunal was also told how Mr Craik seconded a colleague to another post, despite fears of sexual harassment against his secretary, in a move which 'smacked of covering up allegations.'

Mr Craik had allegedly become angry when he discovered flirtatious messages between former Assistant Chief Constable Greg Vant and PA Juliet Bains while they were both working at Northumbria Police.

The messages - which Ms Aubrey deemed to be 'banter' between two consenting adults - involved suggestions of hula hoops, nipples with tassels and groin-stroking, the hearing was told.

Their relationship caused a row within the force, with Mr Craik accusing Mr Vant of sexually harassing Mrs Bains, who was Mr Craik’s secretary at the time.

However, Ms Aubrey said these messages had now gone missing, along with any specific mention of the investigation and the fact that Mr Vant was sent on secondment.

Miss Aubrey, 54, was dismissed when she was accused of gossiping to colleagues about Mr Craik’s relationship with Mrs Peacock.

She is also said to have ‘disclosed confidential information’ by telling other lawyers that she had spent two weeks giving advice on what action should be taken against Mr Vant.

She now accuses her former bosses of 'unfair dismissal following a protected disclosure, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, victimisation and harassment'.

Original report here

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