A deputy chief police constable has been sacked for gross misconduct and may be forced to pay back almost £40,000 salary after allegations that he misused public funds whilst in office.

Derek Bonnard was Deputy Chief Constable of Cleveland Police until last year when he was dismissed for gross misconduct on the basis of six allegations. The allegations against Mr Bonnard included:

  • Deliberately obstructing a criminal investigation into corruption in the police force
  • Misuing public funds and misusing a police force credit card
  • Accepting inappropriate corporate hospitality
  • Acting improperly in a redundancy manner
  • Hiring a vehicle inappropriately and subsequently crashing it

Once the allegations were put to Mr Bonnard he was suspended on full pay from the Cleveland police force whilst an investigation was carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (“IPCC”). A disciplinary hearing was subsequently carried out by an independent panel and that panel recommended that Mr Bonnard be sacked on account of the charges (which constituted gross misconduct). Mr Bonnard is believed to be considering appealing the decision. He may also be asked to pay back almost £40,000 to the police force after he apparently made a commitment to do so last year.

Misconduct is defined as “unacceptable or improper behaviour”. Gross misconduct is conduct of this nature which is particularly serious, such as (for example) theft and violence. For an action (or omission) to be deemed gross misconduct it must be intentional and deliberate on the part of the employee – either a deliberate wrongdoing or gross negligence. It is unclear in the above matter what the IPCC deemed to be gross misconduct but – taken cumulatively – Mr Bonnard’s actions could probably be argued to constitute gross misconduct.

Cleveland Police, which suffered from a previous scandal last year when Sean Price – Chief Constable at the time –  was dismissed for gross misconduct, commented that “Quite clearly, he is not innocent of any wrongdoing, and he has succeeded in delaying his misconduct hearing, which has incurred additional cost for the tax payer. Mr Bonnard’s actions were reflective of the culture at the top of the organisation at that time, and measures have been put in place to ensure that this type of behaviour is not repeated.” The IPCC Commissioner, Nicholas Long, further commented that “Senior police officers are expected to lead by example and adhere to principles including accountability, honesty and integrity. Mr Bonnard demonstrated a flagrant disregard for those principles.”

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