Sacked police whistleblower was treated 'appallingly' by her force, tribunal rules

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A police force unfairly dismissed a detective after she voiced suspicions about another officer, an employment tribunal ruled yesterday.

Vivienne Yarham, 44, told the tribunal in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in July that she was moved from a specialist job with Suffolk police and ignored by other officers after complaining about a fellow detective she suspected of falsifying evidence. Mrs Yarham, a constable based at Ipswich, said the treatment she received left her with no option other than to leave after 25 years' service.

In its ruling the tribunal said Mrs Yarham, who left Suffolk Police in 2004, was "constructively and unfairly dismissed". "We are frankly appalled at some of what we have seen," said the ruling. "Her complaint was not only handled badly. It was handled in contravention of the force's own policy and should have been dealt with much better."

Mrs Yarham told the tribunal how problems developed after she voiced concerns about Detective Constable Steve Rowland, whom she suspected of falsifying evidence to pay sources for information.

Her supervisor, Detective Sergeant Stan Nicholls, had questioned her mental stability and suggested that she may have been suffering from paranoia, the tribunal heard. But in its ruling the tribunal described Mrs Yarham as a "witness of extraordinary quality". And it described Det Sgt Nicholls, who has now retired from the force, as "unreliable, disingenuous, ill-informed" and apparently lacking "objective judgement".

"Det Sgt Nicholls set himself against Mrs Yarham from the outset," added the ruling. "He let it be no secret at all that Det Con Rowland was the best officer he had ever managed and he supported him unquestionably. ... It does not seem to us that the respondent, through its officers, at any stage sent a clear signal to the claimant she was being treated seriously.

The panel will decide what compensation Mrs Yarham should receive.

Suffolk police had denied unfair dismissal. (PA)