Tees

Sean Price legal action: Sacked Cleveland chief constable settles claim

Sean price
Image caption Sean Price said he had spent about £50,000 on his defence so far

A legal battle to recover £500,000 from the former chief constable of Cleveland Police has been dropped.

The force had been trying to claw back salary and bonuses paid to Sean Price before he was sacked for gross misconduct in 2012.

But Cleveland's police and crime commissioner said spiralling legal costs in the face of budget cuts meant a settlement was now the best option.

The agreement will see Mr Price repay about £23,000.

Mr Price became the first police chief to be sacked in 35 years when he was dismissed for lying about his role in the recruitment of the former police authority chairman's daughter.

'Difficult decision'

The former chief constable had pledged to fight the civil claim, but accepted that settling the case before it got to court was "in the best interests of everyone".

He said: "This was a difficult decision for me as I had a strong case that the payments were lawful and should not be repaid 10 years later.

Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Barry Coppinger said pressing ahead with the civil claim could not be justified in the face of budget cuts

"However, the case has cost me several thousand pounds already and the public a great deal more. The only people benefiting have been lawyers.

"I made the decision that the best course of action was to settle now to prevent the costs escalating further."

Cleveland's Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger was suing Mr Price for payments the chief constable received as part of a "golden handcuffs" deal over several years to keep him in post in the years before the scandal broke.

The force claimed Mr Price should not have received this money.

Following a preliminary court hearing in October, Mr Price said the move was vindictive and that Mr Coppinger had been party to agreeing the payments when he was a member of Cleveland Police Authority.

Mr Coppinger said he could no longer justify funding the legal action at a time when the force was losing hundreds of officers and in the face of a likely six-figure legal bill.

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