Accused police officer retires

A SENIOR Scotland Yard officer has been allowed to take early retirement on grounds of stress and depression despite the fact that the High Court ordered him to face a disciplinary tribunal over allegations that he made false statements in the case of a woman accused of brothel-keeping.

Superintendent Peter Bean was formerly head of a vice squad disbanded amid allegations of misconduct. His medical pension was approved despite two critical reports by the House of Commons home affairs committee on the issue of officers facing disciplinary proceedings being allowed to retire early. The Home Office has issued guidelines to police forces on the practice and the Police Complaints Authority has called for it to end.

The authority declined to comment publicly yesterday, saying it was a matter for Scotland Yard, but senior officials are privately furious at the damage to confidence in its ability to take action against the police.

The Bean retirement is significant because proceedings against the officer and a colleague were pursued by the authority against Scotland Yard's wishes. When the tribunal, chaired by a senior Yard officer, was convened, charges were rejected after legal argument. The authority fought the issue in the High Court, which ruled in its favour in March.

The date of a hearing for the second officer, PC Phillip Spittles, has still to be fixed.

The case stems from a complaint by Lynda Al-Subaie, a former military police officer, who was convicted in 1988 of running a disorderly house in west London. Ms Al-Subaie said in court that PC Spittles had lied when he denied planting a cat-o'-nine-tails at her home during an undercover visit before a raid. She also said he and Supt Bean had lied about seeing a naked man in what was described as her 'torture room'.

Ms Al-Subaie's appeal against conviction and a nine-month suspended sentence has been postponed until after disciplinary proceedings.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided the officers should not be charged, but both were subsequently accused of the disciplinary offence of making false statements in writing and on oath concerning the naked man. PC Spittles was also charged with making false statements in connection with a payment to Ms Al- Subaie and over the whip.

Supt Bean, 48, a policeman for 26 years, had been working in the public-order planning department of Scotland Yard since the break-up of the Paddington- based vice squad in mid-1988. A Yard spokesman said he had been on sick leave for several months suffering from stress and depression. A date for his retirement had not been agreed. The application had been approved by a Deputy Assistant Commissioner, the spokesman said.

The squad was disbanded after the collapse of the prosecution on vice charges of a Mayfair escort agency after allegation of links between PC Stuart Taylor, a long- serving member of the squad, and a woman in the case. He went on sick leave as the inquiry began and was also granted a medical discharge before it was resolved.

Leading article, page 24

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