Ex-West Yorkshire Chief Constable sues former force over '˜negligent' criminal probe
West Yorkshire's former Chief Constable Mark Gilmore is taking legal action against the police service in Northern Ireland over the criminal investigation which saw him suspended from his job.
Mr Gilmore has confirmed he has lodged a civil claim in the High Court against the Police Service of Northern Ireland, claiming his former force’s investigation into the allegedly corrupt award of police vehicle contracts was “negligent” and involved “misfeasance”, or the wrongful use of lawful powers.
It comes two months after he launched legal action against West Yorkshire’s crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson over his alleged “continuing failure” to rule on whether he has a case to answer for misconduct.
The Belfast-born former officer, who retired from policing last summer, was suspended on full pay from his role as West Yorkshire Chief Constable in June 2014 after the investigation was launched by the PSNI.
He was told in 2015 that he had no criminal case to answer. Although his suspension was later lifted, Mr Gilmore became the subject of a misconduct investigation by Lancashire Police and never returned to his post.
He announced his retirement on August 9, two weeks after the Lancashire Police report into his conduct was received by the West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner on July 26.
In a statement, Ernie Waterworth, a solicitor with Belfast-based MTB, told The Yorkshire Post: “I represent Mr. Mark Gilmore in this civil action against the PSNI.
“On Mr Gilmore’s behalf, and following advice from leading counsel, I can confirm that he has commenced civil proceedings in the High Court against the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
“A judicial process has now been embarked upon and it would be inappropriate to offer further comment at this stage.”
The investigation which prompted the suspension of Belfast-born Mr Gilmore was over the awarding of a number of PSNI vehicle contracts.
Former Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland was among those questioned as part of the probe, but will not now face any charges.
A total of nine people, including a number of other police officers, were questioned as part of the PSNI investigation. None were ultimately charged.
It is understood that Mr Gilmore’s claim for ‘aggravated and exemplary’ damages against PSNI and its Chief Constable George Hamilton, lodged yesterday in Belfast, alleges that he suffered personal injury and loss.
He claims this is due to negligence by the force and its ‘servants or agents’ on June 17, 2014, at West Yorkshire Police’s headquarters, his West Yorkshire home, his police vehicle and his home address in Northern Ireland.
The Yorkshire Post has contacted the PSNI for a response.
In his claim against Mr Burns-Williamson at the Administrative Court, Mr Gilmore claimed the crime commissioner failed to make a decision on whether he has a case to answer for misconduct in the 15 days allowed after receiving the Lancashire Police report. Mr Burns-Williamson denies the claim.
The police and crime commissioner’s office has declined to publish the Lancashire Police report in the ten months since it was completed, despite a number of requests to do so.
Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Yorkshire Post made in December last year, an official said the report, and correspondence between the PCC’s office and Lancashire Police, were being withheld.
They added: “Consideration of your request has been complicated since November 2016 by the fact that persons with an interest in information in the investigation report and in emails between the OPCC and Lancashire Police have objected to disclosure of the same and have intimated civil proceedings against the Commissioner.
“Civil proceedings have more recently been issued against the Commissioner, in which the misconduct investigation and the question of publication of the investigation report are in issue.”
It emerged last year that Mr Gilmore was able to retire from policing last year despite facing misconduct allegations at the time, because changes to police procedures stopping this from happening only came into force after the allegations were raised.
After his suspension was lifted following the decision by prosecutors in Northern Ireland, Mr Gilmore worked on a “transition project” for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the successor body to the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Dee Collins was appointed as Temporary Chief Constable during his suspension, and has now given the job on a permanent basis.