West Yorkshire Police chief suspended after criminal inquiry

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The chief constable of one of Britain’s biggest police forces has been suspended after his former force launched a criminal inquiry into the award of contracts for police vehicles.

West Yorkshire’s police chief Mark Gilmore was suspended following the arrest of seven men in Northern Ireland and England on suspicion of offences including bribery and misconduct in public office. Mr Gilmore has not been arrested but was told to step down temporarily as a “necessity in the public interest”, according to a statement by the police and crime commissioner for the English force.

The senior officer spent more than 20 years in the police in Northern Ireland before securing promotion to high ranks in England and held senior posts working on anti-terrorism and anti-corruption portfolios, according to a biography on the force’s website.

In a statement, the police and crime commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson, said: “The reason for this suspension is as a result of information I have received from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) arising from an investigation announced by them earlier this week. I would like to stress that the suspension of the chief constable is a necessity in the public interest until the full facts have been established.

“I sincerely hope that the PSNI investigation is concluded quickly in a way that could allow me to lift the suspension and Mr Gilmore to return to his post and continue the vital work to ensure communities are safer and feel safer.”

Mr Burns-Williamson declined to comment further despite the seriousness of the allegations in the second major upheaval during his term of office. Mr Gilmore was the successor to Sir Norman Bettison, who quit after he was referred to the police watchdog over claims that he was involved in a cover-up over the Hillsborough disaster. Mr Bettison has denied the claims but the watchdog said that he would have had a “case to answer for gross misconduct” had he remained in post.

One of those arrested during the inquiry by the PSNI was a former assistant chief constable, Duncan McCausland. He has denied any wrongdoing.