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Chief barred from leading force for two years had misconduct 'case to answer'

Report kept confidential since 2016 raises concerns about Mark Gilmore buying car for son from firm he dealt with professionally.

Former chief constable Mark Gilmore

Former chief constable Mark Gilmore

Date - 7th March 2018
By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle
11 Comments 11 Comments}

An investigation recommended the former chief constable of West Yorkshire Police had a case to answer for potential gross misconduct before he retired, Police Oracle can reveal.

Had he not left policing Mark Gilmore would likely have had to answer questions over his discounted purchase of a Volkswagen Golf from a company which did business with the force.

But the investigation found he had no case to answer over alleged inappropriate dealings with executives at a car company.

Mr Gilmore denies any wrongdoing and the evidence was not tested in misconduct proceedings.

Despite previous media reports about other matters those were the only two issues investigated by Lancashire Constabulary, a report shows.

The High Court ruled last year that because Mr Gilmore retired there was no need for PCC Mark Burns-Williamson to make a decision on whether the chief did have a case to answer.

The report into his conduct, commissioned by Mr Burns-Williamson, was completed in July 2016 but remained secret and it was never  confirmed what was actually examined.

Mr Gilmore had been suspended in June 2014 after the Police Service of Northern Ireland began an investigation into issues surrounding vehicle procurement.

In April 2015 it was announced no charges would be brought, but Mr Burns-Williamson still blocked the chief’s return to work.

The PCC referred conduct matters to the Independent Police Complaints Commission – who asked Lancashire to investigate.

Police Oracle has now obtained a heavily redacted version of the investigation outcome, after the PCC's office finally concluded that releasing the information is of "legitimate public interest in understanding how and why this investigation took place".

Lancashire Constabulary's ACC Tim Jacques concluded there was a case to answer for Mr Gilmore over using his relationship with people he knew at a car company in Northern Ireland to secure a good deal on a present for his son.

The price of the car was negotiated while the chief was on duty. He was able to rent the demonstration vehicle for three months before buying it, a deal which would not have been readily offered to any other customer, ACC Jacques believed.

The report says: "Elements of the relationship did not appear to be fully open and transparent. At the very same time as he was engaging in this professional relationship Mr Gilmore was negotiating directly with the owner of that business for the private purchase of a motor vehicle.

"In doing so he purchased the vehicle at a discounted price and through a deal that appears unique, the exact terms of which would not likely be made available to other customers.

"Despite recognising at least the potential for risk surrounding this deal he nevertheless followed it through to its conclusion."

ACC Jacques adds there was not a clear separation between the professional dealings and the private purchase of the car.

The name of the company is redacted in the report.

A second misconduct accusation against Mr Gilmore related to his contacts at the firm and claims he used them to "improperly promote this commercial company" at the force.

ACC Jacques found no evidence that any policing procedures had been contravened in this respect.

A text message received by Mr Gilmore from an executive at the company including the statement: "I know a vehicle company who might want a chair of board when time is right!" was dismissed as a bad joke.

Mr Gilmore told the investigators it was "without any foundation whatsoever and in poor taste and not humorous".

A claim he had been involved in forming a company to develop a vehicle which would be used by police was said to be "pure, pure, pure fantasy and without any basis in fact whatsoever".

Solicitor Ernie Waterworth of MTB, Belfast said: “The Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland have already exonerated my client, Mr Gilmore, twice from any wrongdoing or any misconduct on these matters. The third investigation by Lancashire Police identified no new issues.

“Two allegations were put to Mr Gilmore by Lancashire Police. In relation to the first allegation, the report concluded that Mr Gilmore had no case to answer. 

“In relation to the second allegation, the report’s conclusion is irrational. The allegation is that Mr Gilmore used his position to achieve a material benefit. The report does not identify any material benefit that Mr Gilmore received.

“It is of grave concern that significant evidence rebutting the allegations made in the report, and obtained by the Lancashire investigation, was not disclosed to my client at the time this investigation was undertaken and is not evidenced in the report.

“The Lancashire investigation has been voluntarily referred by its chief constable to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, for investigation.”

The IOPC confirmed it is assessing information the force sent it.

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Ordered by:
Vercingetorix - Sun, 11 March 2018

The only'good'to come out of this whole process from when he was I initially suspended was Dee Collins stepping up from Deputy To CC.
Almost immediately she commisioned a report into the then state/welfare of all things in West Yorkshire Police. To say the findings made dire reading was the epitomy of understatsment and was a stinging indictment on morale and management at the time - even the Chief Officer Team were reported as commenting negatively in this independent report.

In the months following this reports publication within the Force whilst the first suspension and investigation was being conducted it soon became very clear that 'in absentia' morale was improving, a very popular change in the Force shift system was now brought in by Dee Collins gaining her a great deal of kudos and good will.

Suddenly morale was improving and good things were happening.

When the initial investigation 'cleared' Mr Gilmore and his return to duty first mooted I recall the universal feeling was one of impending doom and despondency descending on all - it was heavily rumoured that an ACC retired in unable face this 'return'.

To be blunt few, if anyone welcomed his return to his post.

The announcement of the second investigation and continuing suspension was viewed with a sense of overwhelming relief and Dee Collins continued to build on her efforts and eventually secured the post itself.

She is viewed by many as one of the best CC's WYP has had in recent times, excepting Mr Colin Cramphorn but she's not far off that high watermark.

So in the end it would be my submission that however unfortunate and contentious a process it was for Mr Gilmore it was, given the months he was active as CC WYP none wished to have Dee Collins's 'changes rolled back.