Chief constable suspension quashed by high court

Chief Constable Neil Rhodes
Chief Constable Neil Rhodes

The suspension of Lincolnshire’s acting chief constable Neil Rhodes has today been quashed by the high court in Manchester.

Mr Rhodes went before the court yesterday to challenge his suspension in February, which was made because of allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

He was suspended from his role by Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick over the way he allegedly handled a race discrimination claim has asked the High Court to let him challenge the decision so he can return to duty.

It is claimed he helped a senior Muslim lawyer from another force use his ethnicity to pursue damages following his dismissal.

Mr Rhodes strenuously denies any wrong-doing saying his suspension is ‘unlawful’ and asked a judge at the High Court in Manchester to grant a judicial review so he can get it quashed.

Mr Rhodes ‘friended’ West Yorkshire Police lawyer Afzal Hussain, who was dismissed from the force after 17 years and was suing his former employer, and became involved in the proceedings, the court heard.

The PCC suspended Mr Rhodes following claims made by Fraser Sampson, the chief executive and solicitor to the PCC for West Yorkshire, the court was told.

The commission said it took the action against the chief constable because “If Fraser Sampson is right... Temporary Chief Constable Rhodes has been complicit in the pursuit of racial discrimination claims which are a ‘contrivance’ and which he knows to be untrue and only pursued as leverage.

“This is an extremely serious allegation going to fundamental honesty and integrity.”

However, John Beggs QC, representing Mr Rhodes in the case against the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, said the chief constable acted in good faith by trying to get the parties involved around the table.

Mr Beggs said: “Temporary Chief Constable Rhodes denies the essential imputation advanced against him.”

He said Mr Rhodes “did not know enough about Mr Hussain’s claim to offer any opinion on it” and added: “Temporary Chief Constable Rhodes believes that Mr Hussain believes, rightly or wrongly, that his dismissal was based on discrimination.”

Mr Rhodes was acting as a ‘friend’ to Mr Hussain - a support capacity through the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association - the court heard.

Mr Beggs said that even if the allegation had been true, it would not amount to misconduct and would not justify suspension.

However, Derek Sweeting QC, representing the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, said it was “entirely rational” to suspend the chief constable while the allegations were being investigated.

He said: “Where serious allegations are pending it would be in the public interest of the force for him to be suspended.”

Mr Rhodes is seeking permission to claim judicial review of the PCC’s decision to suspend him and, if permission is granted, an order quashing his suspension.

Judge Justice Stuart-Smith said yesterday the dispute boiled down to ‘a case of integrity’.

The PCC’s office has confirmed that and said a statement will be released later in the day.

Boston’s representative on the Police and Crime Panel Coun Stephen Woodliffe told The Standard he had been advised not to comment on the matter.

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