Sacked senior GMP officer claims to be 'victim of corruption'

Published
image captionJohn Buttress expressed his shock at his sacking from GMP

A senior Greater Manchester Police officer sacked for gross misconduct has alleged he was the victim of "corrupt practice" within the force's anti-corruption unit.

Ch Insp John Buttress was cleared of mortgage fraud by a jury but was dismissed by an independent panel.

He was accused of breaching professional standards over his mortgage at a disciplinary hearing.

GMP said Mr Buttress had "fallen below the accepted standards" of honesty.

He is yet to decide whether to appeal the dismissal.

Speaking to the BBC before the panel's decision was announced, Mr Buttress said: "I believe there was corrupt police practice in targeting me, and I'm saying that sitting here in a police uniform in a BBC studio."

A crown court jury in Liverpool cleared him of mortgage fraud in January.

GMP said Mr Buttress applied for a "specific" mortgage relating to a farm house he rented as a holiday home.

image captionCh Insp John Buttress was cleared of mortgage fraud at Liverpool Crown Court in January

'Without foundation'

Problems at work began in 2011, when he was posted to Bolton to work with Supt Steve Nibloe.

The two men clashed when Mr Buttress led a project introducing new ways of working with police radios to make it more efficient.

Mr Buttress was accused of insider dealing, taking backhanders from the radio manufacturer. The allegations were unfounded. Mr Buttress claimed he was being bullied, but Supt Nibloe, now retired, was exonerated.

In turn, Mr Nibloe said he was left "with no choice" but to make a formal complaint to GMP about the behaviour of Mr Buttress "which I believe constitutes harassment," he told the BBC.

He said the continuing bullying allegations against him were "vexatious" and "without foundation".

The mortgage fraud emerged when Mr Buttress failed to tell his mortgage provider Intelligent Finance about the holiday business he ran at his property in North Wales.

The case centred on whether he committed a fraud by not taking out a buy-to-let mortgage. A crown court jury sitting in January cleared him in 20 minutes.

Mr Buttress claimed "at most" it was a civil contractual breach, which he admitted and said he "didn't realise I was doing anything wrong".

He said the force even looked at whether his organ playing at his church was paid and said things were "taken to an incredible degree and it almost became silly".

'A disgrace'

In 2005, Mr Buttress was a rising star within the force. He was awarded a gallantry medal for disarming a gunman in Stockport.

He became a poster boy for police recruitment, with his face on the walls of police stations across the country, advertising the fast track officer development scheme.

Since returning to work, he has accused six GMP officers of offences ranging from misconduct in a public office to perjury. These are being investigated by Kent Police.

In May, he was told he would face a gross misconduct hearing in September. The BBC asked to attend, but it was held in private.

image copyrightRichard Maude
image captionMP Graham Stringer described the mortgage fraud case as 'absurd.'

He added: "It feels like double jeopardy. They decided to discard the two weeks of evidence and the judgement of 12 jurors to re-try me in front of two police officers with lower standards of proof."

Speaking about his dismissal, Mr Buttress said: "I am shocked. I have been a policeman for more than 20 years. I am standing outside the organisation I joined - I am just flabbergasted to be put in this position."

Graham Stringer, the Blackley and Broughton MP, said: "What has happened to John Buttress is a disgrace. He was cleared of an absurd case in court, but instead of welcoming back an innocent officer, GMP decided to hound him."

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: "Ch Insp Buttress may have been acquitted in a crown court where the burden of proof is beyond all reasonable doubt.

"The burden of proof for breaching the standards of professional behaviour is based on the lower threshold of a balance of probabilities.

"He has been dismissed from Greater Manchester Police with immediate effect."

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