Affairs 'left police chief vulnerable but did not affect job'

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The Independent Online

Tragic police chief Michael Todd's string of extra-marital affairs raised questions of his "integrity and judgment" but did not affect his job, a report concluded today.

And the "failure" of the former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police to inform authorities of his affairs made him "potentially vulnerable" to compromise and damaged the image of the police, the report concluded.

An investigation was launched after his death, conducted by Sir Paul Scott-Lee, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police.

He investigated the revelations about the private life of the 50-year-old and whether it impinged on his professional duties as head of one of the UK's biggest police forces.

Details of the married father-of-three's affairs with other women came to light after he was found face down in the snow, frozen to death, at Bwlch Glas, near the summit of Mount Snowdon, in North Wales on 11 March last year.

Hours earlier, he had sent final text messages asking for forgiveness in "another life" as he downed gin and sleeping pills.

He had became depressed and suicidal over his tangled love life after his wife, Carolyn, 47, confronted him about an affair.

Once tipped as a potential candidate for Britain's top police job as head of Scotland Yard, Mr Todd landed the GMP job in October 2002, moving from a high-profile post at the Metropolitan Police.

But his wife and family stayed at their home in Nottinghamshire.

Coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones concluded that Mr Todd died of exposure when his state of mind was affected by alcohol, a drug and confusion due to his personal situation.

Sir Paul's inquiry team interviewed 150 people over 10 months.

But its 16-page report stated that an "absence of legal powers" meant a number of women refused to co-operate. It also did not say how many, and those who did agree to be interviewed did so only if they were not identified.

The team spoke to senior officers at GMP who gave an "unequivocal endorsement" of Mr Todd, speaking of his "charisma, professionalism and energy".

But they told investigators they only got to know "Michael Todd - the professional police officer".

The report added: "On reflection, they realised that they knew relatively little, if anything, of 'Michael Todd - the private individual"' - a fact, the report states, that has become "universally acknowledged" since his death.

Mr Todd did not mix business with pleasure, the report stated, and kept his distance by declining invitations to social events.

Rumours of Mr Todd's affairs were an "open secret" among many officers and the report established that he had a "wide range of relationships with different women".

"Some categorically deny any intimate behaviour, whereas others have acknowledged an 'affair' or sexual encounter," it stated.

It said a meeting was held between Mr Todd and another officer where "rumours" of an affair were talked about but he "denied any impropriety".

The woman involved was spoken to by the investigators and denied the rumour, the report said.

It added: "More generally, a few members of the force did raise some comments or issues that suggested that Michael Todd had failed to set an appropriate example and standard to others", which were raised after his death with the investigation team.

The report concludes that, on matters of security, confidentiality, his use of public money through expenses, hospitality, travel and accommodation, his personal life did not impinge on his professional duties.

It also cleared him over any concerns over his personal finances, use of his work computer and mobile phone.

At each stage the report repeated the statement: "The examination found no areas of concern in relation to this aspect of Michael Todd's professional life."

In conclusion, the report stated that the personal life of Mr Todd was "complicated", with relationships with some women, "platonic or otherwise", lasting many years.

While there was no evidence that it affected his job, his lifestyle "adversely impacted upon the reputation of the Police Service".

The conclusions will now be shared with the Home Office, Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary and other organisations for and dealing with senior police officers.

Councillor Paul Murphy, chairman of Greater Manchester Police Authority, commenting on the report, said: "The report states that Michael created a clear separation between his professional role as Chief Constable and his life outside of work.

"However, we believe the inquiry has raised questions over the former Chief Constable's judgment and integrity.

"We must acknowledge that the report states Michael's failure to fully disclose the extent of his extra-marital affairs made him potentially vulnerable to compromise and that, had the full extent of the extra-marital affairs been made known, his vetting status would have been reviewed.

"Finally, and most importantly, we must remember that, whilst the findings of Sir Paul's inquiries raise important issues, Michael Todd was an exceptional Chief Constable who made a significant contribution to improving policing in Greater Manchester and making our communities safer. That should never be forgotten."

Mr Todd's widow, Carolyn, released the following statement on behalf of her family: "At just 16 years old, when asked why he wanted to join the police service as a police cadet, Michael said he wanted to make a difference.

"He achieved his ambition.

"Michael was not just a dedicated police officer, but also a loving father and husband. He is deeply missed.

"I would now ask that the media leave me and my family alone to get on with our lives and come to terms with our loss."

The Police Authority will hold a press conference to discuss the report at 3pm today at Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton.