Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Call for David Crompton to quit South Yorkshire Police 'a mistake'

David Crompton Image copyright PA
Image caption David Crompton was suspended in April after the Hillsborough inquests

The decision to force South Yorkshire Police chief David Crompton to resign was a mistake which will be "corrected in the High Court", the Chief Inspector of Constabulary has said.

Sir Tom Winsor said Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings' decision was based on three "misunderstood" words in a press release.

Mr Crompton was suspended after the Hillsborough inquest verdicts in April.

He said the PCC's decision was wrong and he will be taking legal action.

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Media captionThe police watchdog criticises a demand for a chief constable to resign.

Mr Crompton - who was due to retire in November - was suspended the day after the Hillsborough inquests concluded police conduct contributed to or caused the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans in 1989.

A statement he issued on 27 April, included the phrase "these [police] failures had to be put into the context of other contributory factors".

Dr Billings said the words "other contributory factors" showed insensitivity to the victims of the disaster.

Following the suspension, Dr Billings instigated dismissal proceedings against Mr Crompton under Section 38 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, which required him to consult others on the proposal - among them, Sir Tom.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Tom Winsor said Dr Billing's had wrongly interpreted Mr Crompton's comments on 27 April

Speaking to the Today programme Sir Tom said: "Dr Billings is firing the chief constable for nothing other than three words in a press release which could not fairly mean anything other than he was not blaming the fans."

He said the PCC's interpretation of the statement was "mistaken and the High Court will correct him".

"The Police and Crime Commissioner cannot fire the chief because people have misunderstood what was said and, let's remember, the PCC was shown the statement before it was made an he did not say 'Do not issue that statement'."

In published documents relating to the dismissal proceedings Mr Crompton claims he took the statement to Dr Billings on the morning of 27 April but was told the PCC could not advise on it.

According to Dr Billings, Mr Crompton was told it was "unwise" to make a comment seeking to justify the force's legal stance at the inquests.

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