Policeman seeks to 'discredit' solicitor

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The Independent Online
A POLICE Federation official advertised anonymously in Private Eye for information to 'discredit' the solicitor acting for a colleague who is suing the organisation.

Sgt George Crichton, chairman of the federation's Merseyside branch, asked readers of the satirical magazine for 'interesting authentic information' about Rex Makin.

Replies to the box number published in the edition of 9 April were followed by a letter on federation notepaper. In it, Mr Crichton said he was gathering information to sue Mr Makin and complain about his 'professional ethics' to the Law Society, which has the power to discipline solicitors.

Merseyside police authority sources last night described the advertisement and letter as 'astonishing'.

A leading member said: 'Police Federation officials should not use their position as public servants to pursue civil disputes with members of the public, whether solicitors or anyone else.' Mr Crichton was on holiday yesterday. The deputy chief constable of Merseyside, David Howe, said he was aware of Mr Crichton's inquiries about Mr Makin; Merseyside police were not investigating him. There was no conflict of interest with Mr Crichton's position as a police officer because he was acting as an official of the federation.

The incident is a ripple from the allegation that Alison Halford, former assistant chief constable of Merseyside, frolicked in a swimming pool on a day when she had command of the force. Ms Halford, who alleged sexual discrimination by the force, denied improper conduct.

A sergeant, Allan McGuire, who was at the pool, was disciplined for discreditable conduct. He is suing the federation - which represents officers up to chief inspector - and Mr Crichton personally, for negligence, claiming they failed to advise and represent him properly. Mr Makin is acting for Mr McGuire.

Mr Makin said: 'I think this is absolutely wicked.'