Ex-Chief Constable Mark Gilmore 'could have tried to disprove misconduct claims by remaining a police officer'

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Former West Yorkshire Chief Constable Mark Gilmore could have tried to disprove the misconduct allegations against him by remaining as a police officer rather than retiring, a High Court hearing was told today.

John Beggs QC, representing police and crime commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson, described the judicial review application made by Mr Gilmore as "disingenuous" and "becoming more academic as the months go by".

Mr Gilmore, who retired from policing last August, argues that the PCC failed in his statutory duty by not making a decision on whether the Belfast-born officer has a case to answer for misconduct.

The former Chief Constable was suspended in 2014 amid an investigation into claims he had an inappropriate relationship with bosses at a local car dealership in Northern Ireland, but was found to have no criminal case to answer.

A later report by a top Lancashire Police officer found that Mr Gilmore did have a case to answer for misconduct on one of two allegations against him.

After receiving the report on July 26 last year, Mr Burns-Williamson came to the view that there was a case to answer on both allegations, meaning the man he appointed in 2013 would potentially face an embarrassing public misconduct hearing.

But in August Mr Gilmore announced he would retire on full pension, meaning he was no longer subject to misconduct proceedings.

Mr Beggs told the Administrative Court in London today: "It was available to the claimant to remain a police officer and ventilate the arguments he is ventilating today in a public misconduct hearing."

He added that the case brought by Mr Gilmore was becoming "more academic as the months go by", as the officer has not been on operational duty with West Yorkshire Police since June 2014.

Mr Beggs said the true purpose of Mr Gilmore's application was that a decision could be made that he had no case to answer for misconduct.

He said to Mr Justice Supperstone: "We invite you to find no relief so the defendant can continue his democratic duty."

Jeremy Johnson QC told the court that documents relating to the case show that Mr Burns-Williamson had a "preliminary view" that the officer had a case to answer, but had not made a formal determination by the time he retired.

He said: "No doubt his view was that there was a case to answer, that is not the same as making the determination."

He added: "Our submission is that, quite contrary to what we were told yesterday, the defendant has said in correspondence and in pleadings that no decision has been made, there was a view but no determination.

"If I am wrong about that, that is the end of the case."

After hearing legal arguments from both sides, Mr Justice Supperstone reserved judgement on the case.

Mr Gilmore was suspended on full pay by Mr Burns-Williamson in June 2014 when news emerged of the investigation by Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) into his relationship with a leading local car dealership, Donnelly Motor Group (DMG).

The officer, who had only been in post for 14 months at the time, was alleged to have been involved in an “inappropriate relationship” with senior DMG officials since 2013 and used this relationship to “improperly promote” the Belfast firm within West Yorkshire Police and the region’s other forces.

He was also accused of using his professional relationship with DMG to get a better deal when he bought the VW Golf, previously used for demonstration purposes, for his son Mark Gilmore Junior in 2014.

The Chief Constable, who insists he was wrongly accused and has done nothing wrong, had his suspension lifted in 2015 when Northern Irish prosecutors said he and eight others, including the owner of DMG, had no criminal case to answer.

But he did not return to his job as Mr Burns-Williamson commissioned Lancashire Police to determine whether he had a case to answer for misconduct.

The resulting report found that Mr Gilmore did have a case to answer over the purchase of the car and that if proved, his conduct could amount to a breach of police standards so serious it could warrant dismissal.

After receiving the report on July 26 last year, West Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner then came to the view that there was a case to answer on both allegations, meaning the man he appointed in 2013 would potentially face an embarrassing public misconduct hearing.

In August Mr Gilmore announced he would retire on full pension, meaning he was no longer subject to misconduct proceedings.