Lincolnshire

Chief constable Neil Rhodes' suspension 'unlawful'

Chief constable Neil Rhodes and police and crime commissioner Alan Hardwick
Image caption Neil Rhodes was suspended by Alan Hardwick on 25 February

Lawyers acting for Lincolnshire's suspended chief constable have told a court the decision to suspend him was "unlawful".

Neil Rhodes was suspended in February by the county's police and crime commissioner (PCC), Alan Hardwick.

Mr Hardwick said the suspension related to Mr Rhodes' alleged support for an employee on another force.

Mr Rhodes' legal team argued the PCC had overreacted and he should be reinstated.

The case has been adjourned until Thursday when the judge is expected to give his ruling.

Suspension 'reasonable'

Mr Rhodes was suspended over allegations he helped a senior Muslim lawyer from West Yorkshire Police use his ethnicity to pursue damages following his dismissal.

His legal team argued that the suspension was "unlawful and irrational".

Mr John Beggs QC told the hearing at the High Court in Manchester: "This PCC overreacted, perhaps through not having the experience, or advice, or assistance to appreciate that suspension is a last resort, a near nuclear option."

But Mr Hardwick's lawyers argued that it was perfectly rational and reasonable to suspend Mr Rhodes on the basis of the information the PCC had received.

The court heard Mr Rhodes had "friended" the lawyer, who was dismissed from West Yorkshire Police after 17 years and was suing his former employer.

Mr Rhodes then became involved in the proceedings, and the pursuit of racial discrimination claims which he knew to be untrue, the court was told.

But his lawyers argued that he simply tried to get the various parties around the table to talk and did not know enough about the claim to offer any opinion on it.

The court heard Mr Rhodes believes, rightly or wrongly, that the lawyer's dismissal was based on discrimination.

Mr Rhodes was appointed as temporary chief constable in March 2012, but suspended in February.

The matter was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), but it decided not to investigate.

Mr Hardwick appointed Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, to hold an independent investigation into the police chief's suspension.

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