Lincolnshire police chief Neil Rhodes 'did not act improperly'

Chief constable Neil Rhodes and police and crime commissioner Alan Hardwick Neil Rhodes was suspended over allegations connected to a separate employment dispute

Misconduct claims against the temporary chief constable of Lincolnshire were "unsubstantiated", a report shows.

Neil Rhodes was suspended by the police and crime commissioner Alan Hardwick, in February, over his involvement in a employment dispute.

However, an independent inquiry by the head of Greater Manchester Police recommended the allegations should be withdrawn.

Mr Hardwick accepted this but said he "remained troubled by the allegations".

Neil Rhodes suspension: Timeline

  • 31 March 2012: Mr Rhodes is appointed temporary chief constable
  • 16 November 2012: Alan Hardwick is elected as Lincolnshire's first PCC
  • 25 February 2013: Mr Hardwick suspends Mr Rhodes. The matter is referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which decides not to investigate.
  • 14 March 2013: Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester is appointed by Mr Hardwick to investigate.
  • 28 March 2013: A judicial review into Mr Rhodes' suspension is successful and he is reinstated into his role
Poor evidence

Mr Rhodes was suspended over his involvement in a dispute where he was accused of helping a former employee at West Yorkshire Police pursue a claim of racial discrimination which he knew to be contrived.

The report concluded there was no evidence to suggest Mr Rhodes acted improperly in his role as a Chief Police Officers Staff Association (CPOSA) "friend" to the employee.

In the report, Greater Manchester's Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy, said he had "complete confidence" Mr Rhodes acted "from the best of motives" to try and "achieve a reasonable compromise".

He added: "The investigation team conclude that Mr Rhodes did not exceed the intended boundaries or scope of a CPOSA friend as he properly understood them."

The report accepted there might have been a conflict of interest in some areas but also suggested more clarity is needed nationally, on the role of CPOSA friends.

'Remains troubled'

It is hard to imagine the two men involved in this dispute have enjoyed a happy working relationship over the past few months.

Alan Hardwick had occupied his role as Lincolnshire's police and crime commissioner for just three months when he took the decision to suspend Neil Rhodes.

The saga has attracted critics at Westminster, with the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz describing the way the chief constable's suspension was handled as a "sorry state of affairs."

Both Neil Rhodes and Alan Hardwick now say they want to draw a line under this matter, which has cast a black cloud over Lincolnshire's thin blue line.

In response to the report, Mr Hardwick said: " I had to take on a serious complaint that was made to me and the way I went around that, I believe, was the right way. I couldn't ignore it.

"I remain troubled by the nature of the allegation and that it has not been possible for the investigating officer to determine exactly what happened in a private conversation between two highly regarded and credible professionals."

Mr Hardwick said the suspension had never been a personal issue and a judicial review had cost him £37,500, alone.

In a statement, Mr Rhodes said: "I have sought over the last six months to maintain a dignified silence, safe in the knowledge that I knew there was never any substance in the spurious allegation.

"The past few months have been unusually challenging. Following the judicial review decision, the commissioner and I resolved that we must draw a line beneath this matter, for the good of Lincolnshire, and demonstrate we could work together productively and positively."

He said he now intended to apply for the permanent chief constable post when it is advertised.

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