Misconduct panel ‘must recuse itself’, suspended chief constable’s lawyer says

The barrister representing Nick Adderley, of Northamptonshire Police, said the panel chairman has a ‘closed mind’ about his client’s honesty.

Suspended chief constable Nick Adderley
Suspended chief constable Nick Adderley (Jacob King/PA)

A misconduct hearing panel must recuse itself, the barrister representing a suspended chief constable accused of telling “whopping lies” about his naval history has said.

Matthew Holdcroft, representing Nick Adderley of Northamptonshire Police, accused the chair of the panel of having a “closed mind” in relation to his client’s honesty and said members of the public have expressed to him that the hearing is not being conducted “fairly”.

The legally qualified chairman, Callum Cowx, served in the Royal Navy, the Army, and the police – something that Mr Adderley had been concerned about when he was appointed to oversee the hearing, Mr Holdcroft said, as he put forward an application for recusal for the entire three-person panel, which also includes Andy Cooke, former police officer, and independent member James Maund.

Panel chair Callum Cowx has been accused of not conducting Nick Adderley’s misconduct hearing “fairly”.
Panel chair Callum Cowx has been accused of not conducting Nick Adderley’s misconduct hearing “fairly”.

The application came after Mr Cowx raised several concerns on Friday morning about claims Mr Adderley has allegedly made based on his own experience and understanding of the Navy.

John Beggs KC, representing the Office of the Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) told the hearing on Tuesday that Mr Adderley had “built military naval legend” by telling people he had served in the Royal Navy for 10 years when he had served for only two and had apparently included his service with the Sea Cadets from the age of 10 in that calculation.

He was also said to have claimed he was a Falklands War veteran even though he was only 15 when it started in April 1982 and that he had attended the prestigious Britannia Royal Naval College for four years, despite his application being rejected.

He had also allegedly claimed to have seen active service during his naval career, had been a military negotiator in Haiti despite never visiting the country and that he had been a “commander or a lieutenant”, even though he only achieved the rank of able seaman.

Mr Cowx pointed out that Mr Adderley would not have been able to join the Sea Cadets until the age of 12 and had not met the academic requirements to attend the world-famous naval college according to his own CV.

He also pointed out issues with Mr Adderley’s claim that he had “shown leadership” and was commended when he had allegedly helped recover a ditched Sea King helicopter using a winch on HMS Invincible, and when he tethered a stricken Italian frigate, saying that “under no circumstances” would an able seaman be entrusted with such tasks.

Callum Cowx leaves the misconduct hearing venue after Friday’s session was adjourned.
Callum Cowx leaves the misconduct hearing venue after Friday’s session was adjourned.

Mr Cowx added: “When Mr Adderley was asked to give further examples of his track record in the Navy, he said he had responsibility for the armoury and the security of HMS Cochrane.

“He may well have been employed in the armoury and given general security tasks to assist, but it runs contrary to my experience that such a junior individual would be responsible for the armoury, which contains their weapons, and base security.”

Mr Holdcroft said anyone hearing the chairman’s points would assume he has “formed the view that Mr Adderley is dishonest” and, therefore, the hearing was not fair.

He said: “You have set out with particularity the reasons why you hold those views and why you wouldn’t be shifted.

“There is an indication that this isn’t a steep hill I would have to climb to persuade you he is honest, it is a bare rock face.

“Uniquely in my career, members of the public in attendance have approached me to express their view that you are not conducting these proceedings fairly.

“It is the strongest possible indication that the fair-minded and informed observer would form the view that the tribunal is biased.

“From the outset, Mr Adderley was concerned about your appointment given the apparent overlap between your career in the Navy, the Army and the police.

“Concern was raised that it seemed an unlikely resume for an independent legally qualified chair to be picked at random and allocated a case that has such significant overlap with your experience.

“Regrettably I find myself in a position where I have to invite the panel to recuse themselves.”

Addressing Mr Cowx, Mr Beggs said the panel “has to be alive to the reality that intense efforts to remove you are because of the fear you will bring a very helpful expertise to the table”.

He said: “This is now the second or third attempt to get rid of you. Mr Adderley doesn’t want someone who has greater expertise than prosecuting counsel.

“This is a case, that if proven, will inevitably end Mr Adderley’s career.

“It is inconceivable that if a police officer, not least a senior officer, had lied repetitively and done so in a bid to create a grander narrative as to his service, that any sanction other than dismissal without notice is available.”

He added: “It is a well-known tactic in the legal profession to repetitively attack members of the tribunal. It is intended either to derail proceedings so they can put off the evil day, or more perniciously, designed to undermine and cow the person attacked to make them bend over backwards to demonstrate they observe the opposite.

“We invite you not to be cowed.”

Mr Cowx said the panel would take as long as is needed to consider the recusal application before making a decision.

The misconduct hearing was adjourned until June 20 for submissions on the matter and also so further efforts to contact two authors mentioned in the hearing on Thursday could be carried out by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.