Nottingham

Policeman 'downplayed murderer's lawyer affair'

Police cordon on Sandy Lane
Image caption Det Con Peter Surgay was a family liaison officer following the murder of Clifford Collinge, who was killed in Warsop, Nottinghamshire

A police officer who supported the family of a murder victim "deliberately downplayed" an affair with a solicitor of one of the accused, a panel has heard.

Det Con Peter Surgay was a family liaison officer following the murder of Clifford Collinge in 2011.

The panel was told Mr Surgay had been in a "volatile" on-off relationship with Deborah Bell since 2009.

The hearing was adjourned until 10 August.

The pair's relationship had been kept secret as Mr Surgay's wife also served with Nottinghamshire Police, the misconduct panel heard.

Ms Bell went on to act as a solicitor for Stephen Shreeves - one of three accused of the murder of Mr Collinge.

Shreeves is currently serving a life sentence after being found guilty of murder. Widow Charlotte Collinge was acquitted following a retrial.

'Drunken fumble'

Mr Surgay, 42, who has served with the force for nearly 19 years, is accused of failing to report the nature of the relationship which, it has been argued, could have potentially compromised a major investigation.

Mr Surgay said the relationship was largely platonic, save for a "drunken fumble" early on.

Force solicitor David Ring said this was inconsistent with the account of Ms Bell, who said the pair were intimate over a period spanning years.

Mr Ring said Mr Surgay made no mention of trips he took with Ms Bell to California, Dublin and Germany when questioned by the force's professional standards department.

He said: "You deliberately downplay the nature of your relationship in interview." Mr Surgay replied: "I dispute that."

Mr Surgay added: "It was not something I wanted to shout from the rooftops. There's enough rumour and rapture in the police force as it is."

The officer added he was not aware his relationship with Ms Bell should have been brought to the attention of senior officers and the couple only spoke of the Collinge case in the "broadest of terms".

Mr Ring said the officer would have been removed from his role in the case had the nature of the relationship come to light, adding it was "common sense" he should have disclosed it.

Image caption Mr Collinge was attacked with a metal clamp and suffered dozens of injuries

Mr Surgay is also facing a further allegation of misusing police systems over "an extended period of time" in searching for crimes in and around his home area of Kimberley.

The incidents included one where a car registered in his name was reported for making off from a petrol station without paying - knowing as "bilking".

The officer said the searches were made for policing purposes and that he was "aghast" when he saw the alleged bilking incident.

The hearing continues.

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