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Police chief suspended over Hillsborough to challenge commissioner in court

Published 29/09/2016

David Crompton is seeking a legal review
David Crompton is seeking a legal review

South Yorkshire chief constable David Crompton has responded to his forced removal by his police and crime commissioner (PCC) by saying he will challenge the decision in the courts.

Mr Crompton was suspended by PCC Alan Billings in April following a statement the chief made the day after the end of the Hillsborough inquests.

Dr Billings on Thursday called for the chief's immediate resignation, saying the statement sought to justify questioning by the force's legal team at the inquests "which touched on fan behaviour and caused the families distress".

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary described this move as the "forced removal" of the chief constable.

The PCC's decision flies in the face of the advice of the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Tom Winsor, who told Dr Billings his reasons came "nowhere close to the sort of concerns I would expect to see" for the removal of a chief constable.

Sir Tom's advice to the PCC was published in full after Dr Billings decision.

It concluded the move was "conspicuously unfair, disproportionate and so unreasonable that I cannot understand how the PCC has reached this view".

Mr Crompton issued an immediate statement through his lawyers, which said: " I believe the use of section 38 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, by the police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, to be fundamentally wrong and I will shortly be commencing judicial review proceedings in the High Court in order to challenge him."

After the Hillsborough inquest verdicts in April , Mr Crompton read out an apology outside his Sheffield HQ. The following day, the chief constable issued a second statement.

Dr Billings said: "The chief constable's statement sought to justify the questions asked at the inquests. This was something that I believed the public had already concluded was wrong."

He said: "The second statement made clear that the chief constable simply could not or would not see that the conduct of his legal team had caused distress to the families and that trying to justify the questioning simply added to that.

"This was insensitive and it damaged both the force and the chief constable himself. It indicated that the leadership of South Yorkshire Police had not learnt the lessons of past failures, but was still more concerned with its own reputation than harm done to victims."

Mr Crompton's suspension in April came as South Yorkshire Police found itself at the centre of a bewildering range of controversies, including the outcome of the Hillsborough inquests, the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham, calls for a new inquiry into the so-called Battle of Orgreave and its investigation into Sir Cliff Richard.

He had already said he would retire in November.

Dr Billings has appointed Stephen Watson as his successor. Mr Watson is currently running the force on a temporary basis.

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