Detective in Shipman inquiry is suspended

A detective who was severely criticised for failing to uncover any evidence of Harold Shipman's career as a serial killer has been suspended.

Detective Inspector David Smith, 46, has also been accused of withholding crucial information that caused a £10m drugs trial to collapse.

The Police Complaints Authority is investigating both matters. Greater Manchester Police confirmed yesterday that DI Smith, who has been with the force for 27 years, had been suspended since Friday. If he is found to have broken police rules or acted in an incompetent or unprofessional manner he could be sacked.

The officer was described last month in a report by Dame Janet Smith, the chairwoman of the Shipman inquiry, as being "out of his depth" when investigating Shipman and of lying to cover up his mistakes.

She concluded that the last three of Shipman's victims would probably have lived but for an incompetent inquiry led by DI Smith in March 1998. He failed to discover that Shipman had a criminal record for drug offences and failed to order a post-mortem examination of two victims killed by Shipman just before his inquiry began.

"He told lies ... and repeated some of those lies in statements made to this inquiry," Dame Janet said.

The second inquiry covers DI Smith's part in the investigation of the death of a Stockport drug dealer who was kidnapped, beaten up, doused in petrol and set alight in 1999.