South East Wales

Carmel Napier 'bullied' into retiring as Gwent Police chief

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Media captionMrs Napier said she found her treatment "menacing and bullying"

Ex-Gwent Police chief Carmel Napier said she was forced to resign following "menacing and bullying" treatment by the force's police commissioner.

Speaking for the first time since quitting her post on 7 June, Mrs Napier said she had no idea Ian Johnston had any concerns about her performance.

She said he came to her office and read out a document issuing an ultimatum - leave or face being forced out.

Mr Johnston told a committee of MPs she was "unacceptably" unhelpful.

They had both been called before the Home Affairs Committee in Westminster.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mrs Napier told MPs: "I felt that the tone of the document and how he delivered it was both menacing and bullying.

"I felt actually from the tone of the note, that it was a clear threat - retire or resign. Or actually, horrible words 'I will humiliate and dismiss you'. That is what rang in my head."

The former chief constable said she was alone with Mr Johnston as he read out the document to her. She said she was not given a copy of it and had to ask him to slow down while he read it.

She said he then "stormed out" without giving her a chance to reply, leaving her with feelings of "shock" and "horror".

Mrs Napier, who had just reached 30 years service in the police force, said her initial reaction was to fight Mr Johnson's ultimatum.

But she told the committee that after taking legal advice she realised the "enormous, unfettered power" which police and crime commissioners PCCs have.

She said she discovered that even if Mr Johnston's decision was taken to the Gwent Police and Crime Panel which oversees the actions of the PCC, he could have ignored their advice.


Earlier, Mr Johnston defended his decision to ask Mrs Napier to retire, saying it was clear she was "hostile" to his role as Gwent's PCC.

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Media captionIan Johnston said the differences between him and former chief constable Carmel Napier were 'much more fundamental' than a clash of personalities

Mr Johnston, a former chief superintendent in the Gwent force with more than 30 years service, said he went to her office on 23 May with a document that he had drafted with a lawyer.

He denied he issued the ultimatum because of a clash of personalities, saying Mrs Napier's attitude to his role meant he was unable to do his job properly.

The PCC told the committee the pair did not get off to a "very auspicious start" after he found out last November - in his first week in the elected role - that the chief constable had warned staff that anyone who had contact with him would be subject to disciplinary procedures.

Of their first meeting: "It wasn't a very productive hour and it left me in no doubt as to where I stood and how she saw the role of the PCC, which didn't accord with my role."

He also said when the pair discussed the closure of police stations in the force area - one of his statutory duties - she told him "it was nothing to do with me [Mr Johnston]".

He added that he believed her managerial style to be "unacceptably dismissive, abrupt and unhelpful", although he conceded that he did not think she was incompetent as chief constable.

Concerns raised

However, when these points were put to Mrs Napier by the committee, she said she had wanted to work with Mr Johnston and had hoped he would be a champion of the force.

She said some staff members who had worked with Mr Johnston when he was at Gwent Police raised concerns about his behaviours and attitudes and that they feared he might seek to undo the changes that had been brought into the force.

Mrs Napier said that after looking into the legislation about PCCs, she spoke to senior officers and police staff to clarify the role of the chief constable and the PCC and what their responsibilities were.

The committee also heard that Mr Johnston had accused Mrs Napier of manipulating crime figures after the force recorded the largest fall in crime in England and Wales in 2011-2012.

But the former chief constable strongly denied this, adding that reviews had shown the force had previously been over-recording crime.

Police independence

After Mrs Napier announced she was retiring from her 30-year career in policing, it emerged she had been forced out by Mr Johnston.

Mr Johnston confirmed his ultimatum to Mrs Napier after documents were leaked to the South Wales Argus.

Until now, Mrs Napier's only comment on the issue had been a carefully-worded statement in which she asked whether PCC powers were compromising police independence.

She called on the UK government to look again at the power of PCCs, which were first elected 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).

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

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