Cheshire Police panel chair in LGBT lanyard row

Bob Fousert
Image caption Bob Fousert said wearing the LGBT lanyard was political

A senior police officer has been criticised by the chairman of a local policing watchdog for wearing a rainbow-coloured lanyard.

Bob Fousert, chair of the Cheshire police and crime panel, claimed it was political for the force's deputy chief constable to don LGBT neckwear.

Julie Cooke is national lead on LGBT issues for the National Police Chiefs Council.

The senior officer said her support for the LGBT community was "critical".

'Deeply shocking'

Mr Fousert, a lay member of the panel that oversees the force's police and crime commissioner (PCC), said the senior officer was in breach of impartiality regulations.

Cheshire's PCC David Keane said Mr Fousert's comments were "deeply shocking".

Responding to questioning at the Cheshire police and crime panel, Mr Keane said: "We've been taken back almost some years by your approach. It's really outdated and exclusive."

But Mr Fousert, who was chairing the meeting, told him: "LGBT, whether you like it or not, is a political issue."

He said the lanyard showed Deputy Chief Constable Cooke was "taking part in politics", adding that she had "crossed the boundary with that very overt statement".

Labour panel member Anthony Critchley said Mr Fousert had "just made being gay political" and Conservative member Lynn Riley said "we have to celebrate the huge amount of work by all blue light services to raise awareness and tolerance".

Mr Keane said rainbow lanyards and badges were "about promoting fairness, openness and equality".

Ms Cooke tweeted that she would "continue to show my support for the LGBT+ community internally and externally."

Chief Constable Darren Martland tweeted: "The exceptional work of DCC Cooke and Cheshire Constabulary in recognising difference and encouraging inclusion of LGBT+ communities is to be celebrated and applauded."

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