Scottish Daily Mail

‘Beergate’ cop frontrunne­r to be Scotland’s new £232k chief constable

Senior officer’s force cleared Sir Keir of breaking lockdown rules

- By Graham Grant Home Affairs Editor

THE head of the force which cleared Sir Keir Starmer of breaking lockdown rules is a frontrunne­r for the job of leading Police Scotland.

Jo Farrell, who heads Durham Constabula­ry, is vying to replace Sir Iain Livingston­e as Chief Constable of the UK’s second-largest force, alongside Sir Iain’s current deputy, Malcolm Graham.

Her contract was extended last June by three years, shortly before Labour leader Sir Keir and his deputy Angela Rayner were cleared of breaching lockdown regulation­s after being pictured drinking beer and eating a takeaway curry with party colleagues.

Sir Keir and Ms Rayner attended the event in Durham in April 2021 when strict lockdown rules were in place. Durham Police carried out a two-month investigat­ion and concluded there had been no breach of the ban on indoor mixing as the gathering was work-related.

Ms Farrell later argued the ‘Beergate’ probe was necessary to maintain public confidence in policing and the decision to investigat­e was taken because of the ‘weight of material’ passed to the force.

The Mail has now learned Ms Farrell and Mr Graham are the only candidates for Police Scotland’s top job, which has a salary of £232,000 a year.

Former Scottish Police Federation general secretary Calum Steele said the fact just two people applied was a ‘damning indictment of the developmen­t of police leadership across the UK’.

When she was made Durham’s Chief Constable in June 2019, Ms Farrell became the first woman to hold the £156,958-a-year post in the 180-year history of the force.

Ms Farrell started her career as a constable in Cambridge in 1991. Last year, she said: ‘Although I don’t have any family connection with the police, I always wanted to join and was so proud when I first became an officer.’

The Police Scotland job became available after Sir Iain dramatical­ly announced he was quitting in February, two years ahead of his contract ending.

At the time, he warned his force was facing ‘unsustaina­ble’ funding pressures. Sir Iain had previously said his officers would no longer be able to investigat­e certain crimes due to budgetary pressures and ‘systemic under-funding’.

Last night, Mr Steele said: ‘It is astonishin­g only two people have come forward for such a big role and doesn’t reflect well on leadership developmen­t here.

‘The other issue is the intensely politicise­d nature of policing in England, where Police Commission­ers – which we don’t have in Scotland – have power over the contracts of police chiefs.

‘If someone in a senior position applies for a job and doesn’t get it, it can be perceived as disloyalty – and the Commission­er wouldn’t extend their contract, for example. So that creates an incestuous situation and isn’t always conducive to people applying for big jobs outside their own force.

‘In Scotland, it is surprising we don’t have Assistant Chief Constables (ACCs) clambering over each other for the top job.’

Mr Graham, whose career began in 1995 at Lothian and Borders Police, was formerly ACC for major crime, public protection and local crime, when Police Scotland was created in 2013. He became Deputy Chief Constable in 2019.

One police source said Mr Graham’s lack of experience outside Scotland may count against him.

The Scottish Police Authority – which is in charge of the recruitmen­t process – said that it was ‘on track to make an announceme­nt by mid-June’.

‘It doesn’t reflect well on leadership’

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 ?? ?? In the frame: Chief Constable Jo Farrell launched probe into Sir Keir, above
In the frame: Chief Constable Jo Farrell launched probe into Sir Keir, above

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