Cleveland Police officers face misconduct probe after spy row

Cleveland Police logo Image copyright PA
Image caption The Independent Office for Police Conduct launched its probe into Cleveland Police last year

Seven police officers are to be investigated for gross misconduct as part of a watchdog's probe into the way anti-terror legislation was used to spy on former colleagues and journalists.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating Cleveland Police's use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

The force had claimed information was being illegally leaked and was later forced to apologise for tapping phones.

It said it was assisting the IOPC.

One member of police staff has also been served with a notice of gross misconduct.

In 2017 an Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled the force had acted unlawfully by using the act.

'Detailed assessments'

In an update on its investigations, the IOPC said: "We can confirm that earlier this week, following detailed assessments, notices of gross misconduct were served to seven Cleveland Police officers (five are now retired) and one member of staff.

"This is not currently a criminal investigation.

"The serving of a notice is not a finding of guilt but to inform an officer, or member of staff, that they are under investigation and the level of severity."

IOPC regional director Miranda Biddle said: "With regard to the investigation relating to the use of the RIPA... we have very carefully considered the evidence available to us, at this time, and made the decision to investigate the actions of the identified police officers and member of staff."

The probe forms part of Operation Forbes, which was launched in January 2018 to look at three issues involving the force.

The second relates to PC Nadeem Saddique and follows a 2015 employment tribunal which concluded the now retired officer was racially discriminated against because he was Asian.

He was awarded £457,664 in compensation.

Image caption Nadeem Saddique said colleagues had displayed "robust racism"

The IOPC said its inquiries relating to that case were now complete and its full report would soon be sent to the force.

Operation Forbes' third strand is looking at complaints as to how Cleveland Police carried out an Equality Review in 2011.

That review followed a report that included claims by black and ethnic minority officers that they had been overlooked for promotion and disciplined more harshly than white colleagues.

The IOPC said its investigation into this area was "ongoing" and "no notices have been served and this is not a criminal investigation".

In response, Cleveland Police said: "We have a commitment to learning and improving and we will continue to assist the IOPC as it is important that these investigations are resolved."

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