Ex-PSNI officer loses legal battle with police and crime commissioner

Retired police chief Mark Gilmore

A former PSNI officer embroiled in a misconduct probe over the awarding of police vehicle contracts has lost a High Court fight with a police and crime commissioner.

Retired West Yorkshire chief constable Mark Gilmore complained that police commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson had unfairly failed to decide whether he had a "case to answer" after misconduct allegations were made.

Mr Gilmore, who became chief constable of West Yorkshire in 2013, asked a judge to order Mr Burns-Williamson to "make a case-to-answer decision".

But Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed his application, saying that the West Yorkshire commissioner was "under no obligation" to make a determination.

The case relates to a police investigation in 2014 into allegations of bribery and misconduct in public office in the awarding of PSNI vehicle contracts.

Several people were questioned as part of the probe including Mr Gilmore and retired PSNI assistant chief constable Duncan McCausland.

The Public Prosecution Service later informed them that none would face any charges.

In October, it emerged the north's Police Ombudsman is now carrying out a major misconduct investigation following complaints over how that vehicle contracts probe was handled.

Three of Northern Ireland's most senior police officers – chief constable George Hamilton, his deputy Drew Harris and assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton – are under investigation as part of the probe.

The PSNI said they "completely refute the allegations".

In a written ruling on Mr Gilmore's High Court challenge published yesterday, Mr Justice Supperstone outlined the allegations against Mr Gilmore while he was leading West Yorkshire police.

Mr Gilmore had been accused of having an "inappropriate relationship" with bosses at a car dealership; using that relationship to "benefit personally via the purchase of a VW Golf for his son"; treating colleagues "inappropriately"; making "comments of a sexual nature to female staff"; misusing police resources and bypassing an "official procurement process" in order to "employ a friend in a senior management role".

He denied the allegations.

Jeremy Johnson QC, who represented Mr Gilmore, had told the judge that a police watchdog and prosecutors found "no evidence of wrongdoing" following separate inquiries.

Mr Johnson said all Mr Gilmore was asking was for Mr Burns-Williamson to make a decision on the investigation he initiated.

Mr Justice Supperstone said Mr Gilmore had said he was retiring in August 2016 – about two weeks after Mr Burns-Williamson was presented with an investigator's report into the car dealership allegations.

A barrister for Mr Burns-Williamson said Mr Gilmore would have received a decision if he had not retired.

"Further, he knew what the decision would be, which is precisely why he retired when he did, taking his pension and avoiding any further investigation or public misconduct hearing," the barrister said.

Mr Gilmore – who began his career with the RUC, worked for the PSNI and is a former deputy chief constable of Northumbria Police – was not in court yesterday to hear Mr Justice Supperstone announce his decision.

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