Yard officer's fight to save job thwarted: Judge decides tribunal acted fairly

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The Independent Online
A SENIOR Scotland Yard officer facing dismissal by the Queen yesterday lost a legal battle to challenge the Home Secretary's decision that he was 'unfit for office'.

A report from Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, is expected to be sent to the Queen later this month recommending that Wyn Jones, 50, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, should have his Royal warrant revoked, allowing him to be dismissed.

The Home Secretary's report follows a two-week disciplinary hearing which found Mr Jones guilty of 10 allegations of misconduct. He was accused of a 'failure to show a proper regard for public or charitable funds', and being determined to 'extract whatever private advantage could be gained' from his job.

Mr Jones, who headed the Yard's personnel and training department, has been on leave on full pay for three years. He was accused of 31 offences, ranging from abusing the use of a police car to allegations of impropriety involving expenses on official trips. On one occasion Mr Jones is alleged to have claimed to have paid for club class air tickets for an official visit to Moscow while actually buying economy tickets.

Mr Jones has also been the subject of unfounded allegations that he was part of a conspiracy to bribe Mr Justice Tucker, the judge presiding over the Asil Nadir trial. The allegation did not form part of the disciplinary hearing but his counsel, Edmund Lawson QC, claimed that Mr Howard may have been biased against his client because of publicity given to 'extraordinary' allegations linking him to the plot.

Mr Lawson asked Mr Justice Macpherson for leave to bring judicial review proceedings to quash the Home Secretary's decision, arguing that the tribunal had proceeded unfairly by considering too many charges all together.

Mr Jones is the most senior police officer to face disciplinary action. A special disciplinary tribunal, headed by a senior Queen's Counsel and a former chief constable, was set up to hear the accusations. Scotland Yard officers of Mr Jones's rank are appointed by Royal warrant and can only be dismissed if it is taken away.

Mr Justice Macpherson rejected arguments that the tribunal behaved unfairly, or had come to 'irrational' conclusions. The judge said that the more he looked at the case the less he 'scented any unfairness' in its findings.

The judge said the tribunal's conclusion was not 'half-hearted' and, after careful consideration of the allegations, they found against Mr Jones in 'very strong terms'.

He said that suggestions the Home Secretary had been biased against Mr Jones because of unfounded bribery allegations was 'fanciful'. 'I simply cannot believe and will not contenance further argument on that,' he said.

John Clitheroe, solicitor for Mr Jones, said that his client would be considering what future action to take with his legal advisers. He has seven days to lodge an appeal. But Mr Justice Macpherson said yesterday: 'My own impression is that further argument is hopeless. The matter should die here and now.'

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