Chief ‘red in the face, froth­ing at the mouth’

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Yourviews -

AN al­leged vic­tim of Cheshire chief con­sta­ble Si­mon Byrne has told his mis­con­duct hear­ing he would be “red in the face and lit­er­ally froth­ing at the mouth” dur­ing an­gry out­bursts.

Si­mon Byrne, who was sus­pended from Cheshire Con­stab­u­lary last year, is ac­cused of gross mis­con­duct for breach­ing stan­dards of pro­fes­sional be­hav­iour in re­spect of au­thor­ity, re­spect and cour­tesy and dis­cred­itable con­duct.

An of­fi­cer, re­ferred to as Wit­ness C, gave ev­i­dence to the hear­ing at War­ring­ton Town Hall with a screen so she could not see Mr Byrne.

She de­scribed the at­mos­phere in the of­fice as “toxic” and said staff felt anx­ious and ap­pre­hen­sive be­cause of Mr Byrne’s “er­ratic and un­pre­dictable be­hav­iour”.

In a state­ment she said: “He was of­ten red in the face and lit­er­ally froth­ing at the mouth.”

She de­scribed his be­hav­iour as “dic­ta­to­rial” and said she felt it was meant to in­stil fear in staff.

The hear­ing was told she had gone off work sick with stress after re­port­ing Mr Byrne’s be­hav­iour, and had started le­gal pro­ceed­ings against the force.

She said: “I felt very vul­ner­a­ble. When I had pre­vi­ously chal­lenged the chief con­sta­ble, I felt like I was tar­geted.”

The hear­ing was told she be­lieved Mr Byrne may have nom­i­nated him­self for the Queen’s Po­lice Medal, which he was awarded in 2016, in­stead of be­ing nom­i­nated by some­body else.

How­ever, Gerry Boyle, QC, rep­re­sent­ing Mr Byrne, said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the chief con­sta­ble had ex­on­er­ated him in re­la­tion to that.

The hear­ing also heard from tformer head of IT Andrew Herndl­hofer, whom Mr Byrne is al­leged to have “be­rated and be­lit­tled” in front of other staff.

Mr Herndl­hofer said Mr Byrne had in­sisted on be­ing pro­vided with an iPad when he ar­rived at the force from the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice in 2014, de­spite them not be­ing used gen­er­ally in the force and work be­ing needed to cre­ate suit­able soft­ware.

He said the tech­nol­ogy be­came a “run­ning sore” as there were a num­ber of prob­lems with it and Mr Byrne’s use of it was “bor­der­ing on in­com­pe­tent”.

He said: “There’s no sys­tem in the world where if you keep lock­ing your­self out of the de­vice it’s go­ing to be a good user ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Wit­ness C said on one oc­ca­sion she was told by Mr Byrne’s per­sonal as­sis­tant, Jane Orme, he had let his chil­dren use his iPad and they had down­loaded games which had caused prob­lems.

Mr Herndl­hofer es­ti­mated the depart­ment of half a dozen tech­ni­cians re­ceived about five calls a week about prob­lems with the de­vice and de­scribed Mr Byrne’s at­ti­tude as “com­pletely un­com­pro­mis­ing”.

“It was just ‘it’s got to work’ and if it didn’t work straight away it was rub­bish,” he said.

Mr Byrne, whose con­tract as chief con­sta­ble ex­pired last month, de­nies the al­le­ga­tions.

The hear­ing con­tin­ues

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