New threat to police chief over sex claims

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The Independent Online

A police inquiry has backed the claims of five women who accused the Deputy Chief Constable of Surrey of sexual harassment.

A police inquiry has backed the claims of five women who accused the Deputy Chief Constable of Surrey of sexual harassment.

Ian Beckett, 54, who remains suspended on full pay, was cleared by a jury last Friday of four counts of indecently assaulting two civilianemployees at Surrey Policeheadquarters. But his career is still in the balance after it emerged the criminal investigation into the allegations included interviews with five other women who accused him of sexual harassment.

The Surrey Police Authority yesterday revealed for the first time that the police inquiry has recommended that disciplinary action be taken against Mr Beckett in relation to all five alleged victims. The women are understood to be civilian workers at the force headquarters in Guildford who accuse Mr Beckett of sexual misconduct dating back to 1991, when he joined the force.

The police authority, which has the power to sack Mr Beckett, met yesterday to discuss the case and said it would reconsider on Thursday what action should be taken.

If it decides to take disciplinary action a tribunal will be appointed to hear the case.

Mr Beckett was suspended in January 1999 after he was accused of fondling and verbally abusing two middle-aged women in December 1998. At his trial he was accused of being a bully who used his position of power to intimidate staff. He was acquitted of the charges at Southwark Crown Court.

An inquiry was carried out by the City of London Police, headed by the force's commissioner, Perry Nove. A police authority statement issued yesterday said: "Mr Nove's report recommended that disciplinary action by taken against Mr Beckett on allegations of sexual harassment in relation to five women."

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