Cleveland Police chief Sean Price sacked after inquiry

Sean Price Sean Price became chief constable of Cleveland Police in 2003

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The chief constable of Cleveland Police has been sacked after he was found guilty of gross misconduct.

Sean Price becomes the first chief to be dismissed in 35 years, with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) describing his conduct as "shameful".

He was found to have lied about his role in the recruitment of the former police authority chairman's daughter.

Mr Price said he believed the hearing conclusion was "incorrect".

The last chief constable to be sacked was Lancashire's Stanley Parr in 1977.

But in recent years a number of chief constables have resigned or retired after facing pressure to step down amid criticism or allegations about their conduct.

On Thursday, West Yorkshire's Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison announced he was to retire in the wake of the Hillsborough report.

The Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on professional standards, chief constable Mike Cunningham, said the overwhelming majority of officers worked "tirelessly to serve their communities with commitment and integrity".

'Failed the public'

In the Cleveland case a disciplinary hearing found Mr Price had asked a member of staff to inquire about a job for Dave McLuckie's daughter, then denied doing so when he was investigated by the IPCC.

It was also found that he then directed the member of staff to lie about the matter.

IPCC commissioner Nicholas Long said Mr Price had "failed the public of Cleveland".

"Mr Price appeared to think his position as chief constable gave him the power to order people to do as he wished," he added.

"He has attempted to intimidate and bully staff under his leadership and mislead an independent investigation."

Sean Price and Derek Bonnard Mr Price was arrested alongside his deputy Derek Bonnard in 2011

The panel found it not proven that Mr Price had directed that a job be found for the woman.

Cleveland Police Authority said the investigator found no evidence to indicate the woman did anything "untoward or inappropriate" during the process.

Stuart Pudney, the authority's chief executive, said that as Mr Price had already served 30 years, he was still legally entitled to claim his pension.

Speaking after the hearing Mr Price said he would be discussing the findings with his lawyers.

"When the judgement was delivered and I was offered the chance to put forward mitigation I declined - the panel was mistaken in their finding and I could not seek to argue for a lesser punishment for something I haven't done."

'Wrongful arrest' claims

Mr Price remains on bail as part of Operation Sacristy, a corruption investigation relating to individuals with past and present associations with Cleveland Police Authority.

James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, said the outcome of the misconduct hearing was a "small piece" of the puzzle.

Start Quote

Sean Price's behaviour and attitude over this matter was completely unacceptable and the sanction imposed is wholly appropriate”

End Quote Stuart Drummond Cleveland Police Authority Chairman

"The criminal investigation must be allowed to run its course but with an expected end date well into 2014 and at a cost of over £100,000 per month the sooner it is concluded the better," he added.

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: "The outcome of this hearing is a clear condemnation of the behaviour exercised by those in positions where trust and incorruptibility are of a paramount importance."

Redcar Liberal Democrat MP Ian Swales said residents should be assured the proceedings were not having an impact on policing.

Mr Price was arrested alongside Deputy Chief Constable Derek Bonnard, who has since been released from bail but remains suspended from duty.

Both officers have denied any wrongdoing and have made legal claims for wrongful arrest.

Mr McLuckie was also arrested as part of Operation Sacristy and is on bail until November.

'Undermined credibility'

After the misconduct hearing, Mr Price said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had investigated the same allegations relating to Mr McLuckie's daughter's recruitment and had found there was no case to answer.

Stuart Drummond Police authority chairman Stuart Drummond said Mr Price's attitude was "unacceptable"

Cleveland Police Authority said Mr Price would no longer face a separate misconduct hearing in respect of 18 other matters as he is no longer a police officer and "cannot be subject to the police disciplinary process".

Authority chairman Stuart Drummond said: "As a police officer, and particularly as a chief constable, Sean Price's behaviour and attitude over this matter was completely unacceptable and the sanction imposed is wholly appropriate.

"His actions have seriously undermined his reputation and his credibility."

The IPCC is also investigating the circumstances of the arrest of Mr Price's wife, Det Ch Insp Heather Eastwood.

She was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly in North Yorkshire but it is alleged the couple failed to report the arrest to Cleveland Police.

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