Gwent Police: MPs to quiz PCC over chief constable exit

Gwent police commissioner Ian Johnston told Carmel Napier to "retire"

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The police commissioner who forced out Gwent's chief constable has been called before an influential group of MPs to explain his decision.

Ian Johnston ordered Carmel Napier to "retire or be removed", criticising her management style and claiming she had lost her officers' confidence.She fought back, asking whether police and crime commissioner (PCC) powers were compromising police independence.

Mr Johnston will appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday.

He said he was pleased to accept the invitation and looked forward to discussing his written response to the committee about the chief constable's retirement.

Meanwhile, the body which monitors the PCC is meeting Mr Johnston to try to find out more about what happened.

Gwent Police and Crime Panel said it must both "support and challenge" Mr Johnston and would seek answers.

Start Quote

The panel will be seeking further information about the circumstances surrounding the chief constable's retirement when we next meet Mr Johnston”

End Quote John Guy Gwent Police and Crime Panel

Mr Johnston will also brief the panel on Friday on his plans for a replacement.

Mrs Napier announced her retirement with immediate effect on 7 June after a 30-year career in policing, only for it to later emerge that she had been forced out after a series of rows with Mr Johnston.

Mr Johnston - a former chief superintendent in the Gwent force with more than 30 years service - confirmed his ultimatum to Mrs Napier after documents were leaked to the South Wales Argus.

The commissioner criticised Mrs Napier's management style and said the relationship "was never going to work".

Ms Napier urged the government to consider whether crime commissioners' powers were compromising police independence in operational matters.

She called on the UK government to look again at the power of police and crime commissioners which were first elected in Wales last year.

Under current laws, a decision to remove a chief constable must be referred to the local police and crime panel, consisting of 10 to 20 members, who may ask for a report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

'Support and challenge'

However, the panel has no power of veto, and the final decision rests with the PCC.

John Guy, chair of the Gwent panel, has said he was "aware of the concerns" over Ms Napier's retirement, and members would be seeking more information about the circumstances during Friday's scheduled meeting.

"The Gwent Police and Crime Panel has a duty to support and challenge Ian Johnston in his role as Gwent police and crime commissioner," Mr Guy said earlier this month.

"Therefore, the panel will be seeking further information about the circumstances surrounding the chief constable's retirement when we next meet Mr Johnston on 28 June."

First Minister Carwyn Jones has said Mrs Napier's retirement raised questions, and there has also been criticism by MPs who said Mr Johnston's actions amounted to bullying.

The Home Office said PCCs had given the electorate a "real say" over policing.

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