Lincolnshire crime commissioner will wait to apologise to chief constable

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick.
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick says he will not apologise to the county’s chief constable yet, despite being told to do so.

The Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel has asked Mr Hardwick to apologise by Friday to chief constable Neil Rhodes and county residents over the issues surrounding Mr Rhodes’ suspension last year.

But in a statement released on Friday last week, Mr Hardwick said it was “inappropriate to say anything publicly” as Mr Rhodes is on annual leave until Monday.

Mr Hardwick said: “I felt it was important to write to you and indicate that I fully intend to communicate with Mr Rhodes in the way you suggest. However, you may be aware that Mr Rhodes is now on leave.

“He does not return to work until February 24. I am sure you will agree it would be inappropriate to say anything publicly in Mr Rhodes’ absence. It is therefore my intention to delay communications until his return.”

Mr Hardwick did not say anything about the request for an apology to the public.

In a letter to Mr Hardwick, the chairman of Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel Norman Norris JP said the commissioner should “be requested to provide a written apology to the chief constable for the anxiety caused to him and his family in relation to the unlawful decision and the way the matter was handled; and to the people of Lincolnshire for incurring unnecessary public expenditure which could have been utilised in supporting the police service.”

Mr Norris said the apology should be made in a formal press release and asked Mr Hardwick to give his reasons, if he decides not to make an apology, by Friday.

Mr Hardwick suspended Mr Rhodes, the then temporary Chief Constable, in February last year over his involvement in a employment dispute. Mr Rhodes was accused of helping a former employee at West Yorkshire Police pursue a claim of racial discrimination which he knew to be contrived.

However, an independent inquiry by the head of Greater Manchester Police Sir Peter Fahy recommended the allegations should be withdrawn.

The total cost to the taxpayer incurred as a result of Mr Rhodes’ suspension was more than £164,000. This comprised £58,000 paid to legal advisors acting on behalf of the commissioner before and after the judicial review; more than £14,000 to Sir Peter Fahy for his investigation and £72,000 to date for the legal costs of Mr Rhodes. These costs will come from the commissioner’s budget for his office. The Police and Crime Panel has also asked Mr Hardwick to say whether or not he accepts the findings of its task group’s report into the events surrounding Mr Rhodes’ suspension and respond by April 4.