Police chief cleared of any misconduct
AFORMER police chief constable who was suspended over bullying allegations has been cleared of any misconduct or gross misconduct after a lengthy disciplinary investigation and formal hearing.
Simon Byrne became chief constable of Cheshire Constabulary in 2014.
He was suspended from duty in August last year and charged with gross misconduct following accusations of bullying, repeatedly being late for work and being ‘volatile, unpredictable and offensive’ - allegations Mr Byrne denied.
A misconduct hearing in Warrington earlier this year was told he had a reputation for being like ‘Darth Vader’ and treated junior officers and staff like ‘roadkill’.
But Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane announced on Tuesday that an independent panel found ‘no misconduct or gross misconduct’.
The panel heard the case after an investigation by North Yorkshire Police identified ‘multiple cases of misconduct to answer’ on Mr Byrne’s behalf.
In a written conclusion, the panel said: “We found no misconduct, or gross misconduct, by Mr Byrne in the evidence presented to us.
“This misconduct panel has been an unfortunate experience for all concerned and our overriding conclusion is that it could – and should – have been avoided.”
A ‘clash of cultures, personalities and attitudes within Cheshire Constabulary following Mr Byrne’s arrival’ was referred to and the panel concluded the ‘working atmosphere in the force changed markedly’ with Mr Byrne’s arrival in 2014.
Mr Byrne, 55, was alleged to have bullied and belittled staff after moving from the Metropolitan Police to take up the top role at the Cheshire force.
The hearing was told he handed pictures of Dad’s Army characters to officers after he became angry when flooding made him late for work.
He was also accused of displaying ‘daily mood swings’ for a fortnight after his application for the post of chief constable of GMP was rejected in 2015.
The panel’s conclusion went on: “We do not believe there was any intent on Mr Byrne’s part to cause distress among those with whom he worked.
“He was focused on improving the constabulary’s performance in every aspect he encountered.
“It seems entirely unsurprising that some staff found this challenging – especially where their performance was (with reasonable justification) criticised.”
Mr Byrne’s contract as chief constable has expired since his suspension.
In a statement, Mr Byrne said: “I am very pleased to have been totally exonerated of any wrongdoing, despite the police and crime commissioner trying to throw the book at me.
“All the allegations against me have been rejected.
“This whole affair has been an ordeal for all parties that has gone on too long and wasted precious public money.
“In some ways, it still feels like upside down justice as I have lost my vocation after 35 years of public service.”
Simon Byrne became chief constable of Cheshire Constabulary in 2014