Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire PCC Alan Hardwick's action 'disruptive and costly'

Chief constable Neil Rhodes and police and crime commissioner Alan Hardwick
Image caption Neil Rhodes was suspended by Alan Hardwick in February but was later reinstated

A report from MPs has criticised Lincolnshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Alan Hardwick for his "disruptive and costly" action to suspend Chief Constable Neil Rhodes.

The report also condemns the failure of the county's Police and Crime Panel (PCP) to meet for two months because of "incompetent" legal advice.

The document has been published by the House of Commons' Home Affairs Committee.

Mr Hardwick has declined to comment.

The chairman of the PCP, Ray Wootten, announced on 16 May he was stepping down from the role.

'Serious error'

The report - a register of PCCs' interests - highlights the lack of scrutiny in the role of some PCCs, including Mr Hardwick.

It described the suspension of Chief Constable Neil Rhodes by Mr Hardwick as potentially "disruptive and costly and damaging to the reputation of the police force".

Mr Rhodes returned to work after a successful judicial appeal in March, after being suspended in February.

The report adds: "The decision was overturned at judicial review by Mr Justice Stuart Smith who noted 'serious error' by the PCC."

Speaking about the suspension, Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, said: "It's a pretty good example, in our view, of what shouldn't happen."

Following Mr Hardwick's suspension of Mr Rhodes, the PCP waited two months before meeting.

According to the report, Mr Wootten cited legal advice from East Lindsay District Council as the reason for the decision.

'Get a grip'

"We could not believe the testimony, I'm afraid, that was given to us - and has been proved to have been inaccurate - that a lawyer sitting in East Lindsey District Council had said 'don't hold a meeting, don't let the public in and don't discuss it with the public'," said Mr Vaz.

"Frankly, this is all about the public," he said.

In a statement, East Lindsey District Council said: "The panel has explained that it was not desirable to hold a meeting to discuss the suspension of the temporary chief constable, whilst various legal and HR issues were still under investigation.

"Following careful consideration it was decided by the chairman not to hold a meeting early on in the process."

Mr Hardwick was also criticised for not giving details of the eight staff he has employed.

"Someone needs to get a grip of what's going on," added Mr Vaz.

The report calls on the government to commission a full register of PCCs' interests.

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