Gwent PCC criticised by MP over chief constable's removal

Ex-Gwent Police chief Carmel Napier and Ian Johnston Ex-Gwent Police chief Carmel Napier and Ian Johnston gave evidence to MPs separately

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Gwent's police and crime commissioner has been criticised by an MP after he forced out his chief constable.

In June Gwent PCC Ian Johnston said he ordered former chief constable Carmel Napier to "retire or be removed".

On Tuesday Mr Johnston and Mrs Napier gave evidence to MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee about the circumstances of her retirement.

Labour MP Chris Ruane said the PCC "should reflect on his position". Mr Johnston said Labour was "smarting".

Start Quote

In terms of Mr Ruane's comments about unfair dismissal, I am sure that Mrs Napier's legal team would have taken this forward if they felt there was any chance of a successful process”

End Quote Ian Johnston Gwent PCC

The Vale of Clwyd MP spoke after the committee meeting on Tuesday which heard Mr Johnston say Mrs Napier was "unacceptably unhelpful" and was hostile to his role.

Later, Mrs Napier told the committee she was forced to resign following "menacing and bullying" treatment by Mr Johnston.

On Wednesday, Mr Ruane told BBC Radio Wales he felt Mr Johnston came across as "quite brash and overly forceful" in his evidence to the Commons committee, while Mrs Napier was "quite reasonable".

He said he thought Mrs Napier should take "careful advice" adding that: "I feel that she was treated unfairly."

"He [Mr Johnston] may have obeyed the letter of the law - and I think the law was poorly drafted - I think he's been given too much power," he continued.

Chris Ruane MP Mr Ruane believes Mr Johnston has "too much power"

"I think the only people who can hold a police commissioner to account now are the Home Affairs Select Committee."

Mr Johnston said Labour were "still smarting over losing what should have been an easy victory in the PCC election in Gwent, and they should move on and now focus on serving the people who elected them".

He added: "In terms of Mr Ruane's comments about unfair dismissal, I am sure that Mrs Napier's legal team would have taken this forward if they felt there was any chance of a successful process."

He said Gwent Labour MPs held a "crisis meeting" with Mrs Napier last year "because they were unable to work with the chief constable", adding: "They obviously have short memories."

Police and crime commissioner's were elected in England and Wales last November following UK government legislation.

After Mrs Napier announced she was retiring from her 30-year career in policing last month, it emerged she had been forced out by Mr Johnston.

Mr Johnston confirmed his ultimatum to Mrs Napier after documents were leaked to the South Wales Argus.

They were both called before the Home Affairs Committee in Westminster on Tuesday.


Mrs Napier told MPs she did not know the commissioner had concerns about her position until a meeting on 23 May, in which he produced a document.

She said: "I felt that the tone of the document and how he delivered it was both menacing and bullying.

"I felt actually from the tone of the note, that it was a clear threat - retire or resign. Or actually, horrible words 'I will humiliate and dismiss you'. That is what rang in my head."

In his evidence, Mr Johnston said it was clear Mrs Napier was "hostile" to his role as Gwent's PCC.

He told the committee the pair did not get off to a "very auspicious start" after he found out in his first week in the role that the chief constable had warned staff that anyone who had contact with him would be subject to disciplinary procedures.

Of their first meeting, he said: "It wasn't a very productive hour and it left me in no doubt as to where I stood and how she saw the role of the PCC, which didn't accord with my role."

He said he believed her managerial style to be "unacceptably dismissive, abrupt and unhelpful", although he conceded he did not think she was incompetent as chief constable.

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