Avon and Somerset Police chief constable Nick Gargan to face internal charge of gross misconduct

Mr Gargan was suspended from his role in May

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police is to face an internal charge of gross misconduct following allegations he leaked internal emails and made "inappropriate advances" to female colleagues.

Nick Gargan, who was suspended from his role in May, was investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission over the allegations but will not face criminal charges.

Police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens has decided Mr Gargan has a "case to answer" for gross misconduct, following the police watchdog's investigation.

In a statement, Ms Mountstevens said: "Following the conclusion of the IPCC's investigation into allegations in relation to the improper disclosure of information and inappropriate behaviour towards women, made about Chief Constable Nick Gargan, I was provided with the IPCC's report and had 15 working days to make a decision on whether or not to refer the matter to misconduct proceedings.

"The IPCC put forward a number of recommendations regarding Nick Gargan. In accordance with those recommendations, I have made the decision there is a case to answer for gross misconduct and therefore I will refer the allegations to a misconduct hearing in front of an independent misconduct panel. I will not be involved in the misconduct panel.

"The misconduct panel will consist of a leading counsel from a Home Office agreed list, who will act as chair of the panel, Her Majesty's chief inspector of constabulary or another HMIC inspector of constabulary nominated by him, and an independent member of the public.

"The members of the panel will decide if the allegations are proven or not and will present their recommendations to me. I will ensure that these recommendations are made public.

"The exact timing of the misconduct panel will depend on various factors, however it will take place as soon as possible, hopefully in the next few months."

The IPCC said it investigated allegations Mr Gargan "abused his senior position by making inappropriate advances to junior female colleagues".

As part of the investigation Mr Gargan was interviewed regarding allegations of gross misconduct and under criminal caution for alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Following the investigation, IPCC deputy chairwoman Rachel Cerfontyne said: "Our investigation uncovered evidence that the Chief Constable may have breached the Data Protection Act by sending emails concerning police business, which contained personal data, to individuals unconnected to the force.

"Having carefully considered the evidence, I concluded that this was a matter for the PCC (police and crime commissioner) to consider under the disciplinary process.

"Under police complaints procedure, it is now a matter for the PCC to respond to me with a decision on what action she proposes to take as a result of our findings."

A spokesman for the Chief Police Officers Staff Association (CPOSA) said: "We await specific details of the alleged breaches of the police code of conduct.

"It would be inappropriate to comment until they have been provided - except to say that Chief Constable Gargan will continue to cooperate fully with the process and wants to get back to work as quickly as possible."

Additional reporting by Press Association