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'Poppi' police chief 'facing separate misconduct and corruption probe'

Published 26/02/2016

John Woodcock, MP for Barrow-in-Furness, has previously called for the resignation of Michelle Skeer
John Woodcock, MP for Barrow-in-Furness, has previously called for the resignation of Michelle Skeer

A police chief criticised for her handling of concerns raised over the death of Poppi Worthington is the subject of a separate inquiry by another police force, it has been reported.

Acting Chief Constable of Cumbria Police, Michelle Skeer, took more than a month to hold a meeting about a High Court judgment in March 2014 which ruled no "real " investigation was conducted for nine months into the death of the 13-month-old toddler from Barrow-in-Furness.

The revelation emerged in a leaked Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report and outlined that a 30-minute meeting eventually held by Mrs Skeer "would not have been time to go through all the points raised in the judgment".

In December, Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes asked Mrs Skeer to temporarily replace Chief Constable Jerry Graham who went on leave due to illness.

BBC North West Tonight has reported that an investigation into allegations of misconduct and corruption in office against Mrs Skeer was already under way when she was promoted into the role.

The programme said the inquiry was handed over to an external police force at the insistence of the IPCC after it was initially looked at internally.

Mr Rhodes is said to have been aware of the inquiry, which is ongoing, when he appointed her and did not ask her about the allegations.

John Woodcock, Labour/Co-operative MP for Barrow-in-Furness, who had previously called for the resignation of Mrs Skeer, told North West Tonight: "The revelations here are extraordinarily serious. Both for the fact that Michelle Skeer was allowed to take over the force but also I have to say for the judgment of the Police and Crime Commissioner for apparently allowing this to happen and not asking the basic question of what the allegations were about over which she was being investigated by another force.

"To know that someone was under investigation and to not ask the question why, I'm afraid it does raise a basic question of competence and whether this was a negligently discharged decision."

On Wednesday, it was announced that Mr Graham will resume his position on March 1.

A fresh inquest is to be held into Poppi's death after a High Court family judge ruled she was sexually assaulted by her father Paul Worthington before her sudden death in December 2012.

Mr Worthington denies any wrongdoing.

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