Police chief quits on eve of hearing

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The Independent Online
THE CHIEF Constable of Gwent has left his job just a few days before he is due to face a disciplinary hearing over allegations of misconduct, it was reported last night.

Gwent Police refused to confirm the departure of Francis Wilkinson, but said that an official statement would be issued on Monday - the day that Mr Wilkinson, who has been suspended from duty for 17 months, is due to appear before the tribunal to face four allegations of misconduct.

Mr Wilkinson was suspended on full pay in October 1997 after allegations were made against him by his deputy and assistant chief constables. They are believed to relate to Mr Wilkinson's handling of a speeding ticket issued to a prominent local councillor, and the awarding of contracts.

There were also concerns over the secondment of Gwent scenes of crime officers to help United Nations war crimes investigations in Bosnia. The fourth matter is understood to be about his attendance at a police function outside Gwent.

The initial allegations against Mr Wilkinson were investigated by Gloucestershire's Chief Constable, Tony Butler, supervised by the Police Complaints Authority. After the inquiry was completed, the Crown Prosecution Service announced in May last year that it would not be bringing criminal charges against the suspended police chief. However, two months later, Gwent Police Authority said that Mr Wilkinson would still have to face a tribunal hearing.

It was understood that Mr Wilkinson's departure was discussed at a special police authority meeting yesterday. The hearing on Monday is scheduled to be held at the Hill Residential Centre in Abergavenny. It is due to sit in private for two weeks and to make its recommendations to the police authority.

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