Sheffield & South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire chief constable's resignation-call 'unlawful'

David Crompton Image copyright PA
Image caption David Crompton was suspended and then resigned before he was due to retire after 30 years of service

A police commissioner's decision to suspend the chief constable of South Yorkshire and then ask him to resign was unlawful, the High Court has ruled.

David Crompton was suspended following the Hillsborough inquests in April 2016 with Dr Alan Billings citing an erosion of public trust in the force.

Dr Billings said he would be "seeking permission to appeal against the outcome".

The Hillsborough victims' families also reacted angrily to the ruling.

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But, Mr Crompton said the court's decision "speaks for itself".

"I welcome today's decision by the court to overturn the Police and Crime Commissioner's decisions first to suspend me, and then to require me to resign," he said.

"The court's judgment concludes Dr Billings acted unlawfully from start to finish, branding his course of decision making 'irrational', 'perverse', 'unreasonable', 'misconceived' and 'wholly disproportionate'."

Inquest findings

He added the judgment repeated "almost all of the arguments made originally by Sir Thomas Winsor (Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary) nearly a year ago in his advice under the statutory process to the Police and Crime Commissioner".

The pair had clashed in the wake of the April 2016 inquest findings into the deaths of 96 people in the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989.

Reacting angrily to the ruling Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, whose son James died in the disaster, defended Dr Billings saying he had "made the correct decision" in calling for Mr Crompton to resign.

"Nothing at all surprises me what goes on, what annoys me is that this senior officer can win this case, yet we, the [Hillsborough families], went for judicial reviews and lost them," she said in a statement.

In a statement the day after the Hillsborough inquests concluded, Mr Crompton alluded to "other contributory factors" to blame for the deaths of 96 football fans.

However, the judgement said: "It would be impossible for any fair-minded observer to conclude that the Chief Constable was challenging the conclusion of the jury that Liverpool football supporters had been blameless.

"The only contributory factors identified by the jury had been the conduct of parties unconnected to Liverpool supporters."

Expensive process

Sitting in London, Lady Justice Sharp and Mr Justice Garnham ruled in Mr Crompton's favour.

Dr Billings said the decision had "potentially serious implications for the governance arrangements for the police service generally and not just in South Yorkshire".

He added he would consult with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) before proceeding as he recognised the process had been expensive.

The office of the PCC told the BBC it had incurred legal costs of £72,000 in the process. An additional £85,000 in legal fees has also been invoiced to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Judicial Review.


Timeline

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Jan 2012: David Crompton appointed chief constable of South Yorkshire Police following retirement of Med Hughes (October 2011)
  • Sept 2016: Made to resign by PCC
  • 9 June 2017: High Court declare decision unlawful

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