Halford calls an end to her two-year battle: A high-profile discrimination case has reached an inconclusive finish. Equal rights groups believe it is a setback, but only in the short term

ALISON HALFORD, once Britain's most senior policewoman, decided yesterday - after a two- year battle - to abandon her effort to prove at an industrial tribunal that she was denied promotion because of sexual discrimination.

Miss Halford, who is to take early retirement on health grounds from her post as an assistant chief constable with Merseyside Police, formally withdrew her claims of sexual discrimination, bringing an end to the controversial tribunal after 44 days.

However, she was yesterday awarded, in her absence, an ex gratia payment of pounds 10,000. The payment, equivalent to a quarter of the maximum amount possible had Miss Halford, 52, won her case, almost caused a further adjournment of the tribunal in Manchester as lawyers debated in private who should make the money available.

She also gained an agreed payment of pounds 5,000 to cover expenses during the hearing. It is understood that the sums will be paid directly by the Home Office to ensure no further public allegations are made by any parties in the long and embarrassing case.

Miss Halford, who stayed away from the final day's hearing, said through a statement read by Verena Jones, a solicitor with the Equal Opportunities Commission - which backed Miss Halford's case - that an annual scholarship would be set up to help women win equal treatment in the police service.

Miss Halford, who has been suspended, will leave the Merseyside force on 31 August. She has agreed to the early retirement terms sanctioned by Merseyside Police Authority on Tuesday, which include a lump sum pension payment of pounds 142,600 and an annual pension of more than pounds 35,000.

James Sharples, Chief Constable of Merseyside, who would have been the next witness at the tribunal, spoke publicly for the first time yesterday about the case.

He said it had been a matter of 'great regret' to him that for at least the past two years Miss Halford had chosen to 'channel her energies and abilities' into her complaint of sex discrimination, which she had 'prosecuted through a series of increasingly bizarre and unfounded allegations', which he had always denied. He added: 'It is a thousand pities that they were ever made, let alone persisted in, and having attempted to substantiate them by her evidence, I think it speaks for itself that she has chosen to withdraw them. It would be idle to pretend that I have not found some of the things said . . . wounding and hurtful, and I can only think that they have been a product of the stress which Miss Halford has inflicted upon herself by the course she has chosen to pursue.' He said the 'notion' that Miss Halford or the Equal Opportunities Commission had won was 'farcical'.

But in her statement Miss Halford said: 'Today has witnessed the end of my long and bitterly fought fight for justice and fair treatment. I regard the settlement as a significant victory for myself and the EOC, my legal advisers and all the many members of the public who have supported me . . .'

Some might say, Miss Halford said, that she should have pressed on because questions remained unaswered. But when she started the case she knew there would be 'no winners or losers'. For her part, the most important element of the settlement had been the willingness of the Home Office to work with the EOC in improving police selection procedures.

She ended by saying it was 'right and proper' that the 'highly questionable' disciplinary action against her had been withdrawn by Merseyside Police Authority. 'I have always maintained my innocence. I need only remind those who are not my friends that the proceedings have been ruled by a High Court judge as having a smell of unfairness about them.'

Valerie Amos, chief executive of the EOC, who was at the final day's hearing, said that the case had been a 'landmark' which had taken women in Britain one step further towards 'shattering the glass ceiling' that prevented them from being selected for the top jobs in their chosen careers.

But the bitterness that has been a hallmark of the case emerged again when Sir Philip Myers, Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary in the North-west and one of the four respondents in the sex discrimination hearing, said: 'It was a personal disappointment to me when I was driven to the conclusion that she was unfit for promotion to deputy chief constable, but it was my plain duty to report that view and I did so.'

Leading article, page 24

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk