For­mer po­lice chief loses court bat­tle

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A re­tired West York­shire chief con­sta­ble who de­nied mis­con­duct claims has lost a High Court fight with the county’s po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner. Mark Gil­more had been at the cen­tre of a se­ries of al­le­ga­tions.

A RE­TIRED West York­shire po­lice chief who had de­nied a se­ries of al­le­ga­tions about his be­hav­iour has lost a High Court fight with the county’s po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner.

Mark Gil­more, who be­came chief con­sta­ble of West York­shire in 2013, claimed Mark Burns-Wil­liamson had un­fairly failed to de­cide whether he had a “case to an­swer” af­ter mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions were made.

He asked a judge to order the crime com­mis­sioner to “make a case-to-an­swer de­ci­sion”. But Mr Jus­tice Sup­per­stone, who re­cently an­a­lysed ri­val ar­gu­ments at a High Court hear­ing in London, dis­missed his ap­pli­ca­tion. He said Mr Burns-Wil­liamson was “un­der no obli­ga­tion to make a case-to-an­swer de­ter­mi­na­tion”.

The judge spelled out a se­ries of al­le­ga­tions made against Mr Gil­more when he was head­ing the West York­shire force in a writ­ten rul­ing pub­lished yes­ter­day.

Mr Gil­more had been ac­cused of hav­ing an “in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­la­tion­ship” with bosses at a car deal­er­ship; us­ing that re­la­tion­ship to “ben­e­fit per­son­ally via the pur­chase of a VW Golf for his son”; treat­ing col­leagues “in­ap­pro­pri­ately”; mak­ing “com­ments of a sex­ual na­ture to fe­male staff ”; mis­us­ing po­lice re­sources and by­pass­ing an “of­fi­cial pro­cure­ment process” in order to “em­ploy a friend in a se­nior man­age­ment role”. He de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

Mr Gil­more was sus­pended in 2014 amid a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion in his na­tive North­ern Ire­land. He was found to have no crim­i­nal case to an­swer but never re­turned to his job in a long-run­ning saga that has cost tax­pay­ers more than £700,000.

He re­tired in Au­gust 2016 – two weeks af­ter Mr Burns-Wil­liamson was pre­sented with an in­ves­ti­ga­tor’s mis­con­duct re­port into the car deal­er­ship al­le­ga­tions.

The judge said the cen­tral is­sue he had considered re­lated to whether leg­is­la­tion re­quired a po­lice com­mis­sioner to make a case-to-an­swer de­ci­sion when the of­fi­cer who was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion had re­tired.

Mr Burns-Wil­liamson had said he was “con­tem­plat­ing” mak­ing a de­ci­sion that Mr Gil­more had a “gross mis­con­duct case to an­swer” in re­la­tion to the car deal­er­ship al­le­ga­tions prior to Mr Gil­more’s re­tire­ment. But he said he had “not made that de­ci­sion in a for­mal sense”.

The judge con­cluded that Mr Burns-Wil­liamson had “not in fact” made a de­ci­sion and said he was not now un­der an obli­ga­tion to make a “case-to-an­swer de­ter­mi­na­tion”.

Jeremy John­son QC, who rep­re­sented Mr Gil­more, had told the judge that a po­lice watch­dog and prose­cu­tors found “no ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing” fol­low­ing sep­a­rate in­quiries. Mr John­son said all Mr Gil­more was ask­ing was for Mr Burns-Wil­liamson to make a de­ci­sion on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion he ini­ti­ated.

John Beggs QC, who rep­re­sented Mr Burns-Wil­liamson, de­scribed the claim as “disin­gen­u­ous” and said: “But for (his) de­ci­sion to re­tire, he would have re­ceived the de­ci­sion.”

He added: “Fur­ther, he knew what the de­ci­sion would be, which is pre­cisely why he re­tired when he did, tak­ing his pen­sion and avoid­ing any fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion or pub­lic mis­con­duct hear­ing.”

Mr Gil­more had been at the trial but was not in court to hear Mr Jus­tice Sup­per­stone an­nounce his de­ci­sion. He said he was dis­ap­pointed but ac­cepted the de­ci­sion of the court. Mr Burns-Wil­liamson said in a state­ment that he was “re­as­sured that Mr Gil­more rather than the tax­pay­ers of West York­shire will be pay­ing for the costs of bring­ing this case”.

I am re­as­sured Mr Gil­more will be pay­ing for the costs of this case. Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Mark Burns-Wil­liamson speak­ing af­ter the judge’s rul­ing.

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