Former police chief loses court battle
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.