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Woman police chief told colleague her 'credibility was zero after boob job'

Published 29/11/2016

Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe (Picture: Greater Manchester Police)
Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe (Picture: Greater Manchester Police)
The disciplinary hearing was held at Greater Manchester Police HQ

A top female police officer drunkenly told another high-ranking colleague that her "credibility was zero" after she had a "boob job", a disciplinary panel has heard.

Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe also berated Superintendent Sarah Jackson as a "laughing stock" among the hierarchy of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and said that she would be judged professionally "on the size of her tits".

During a "personal attack" on Ms Jackson in a hotel bar at the national Senior Women in Policing Conference, she also said to her: "Sarah, it does not matter how hard you work now because you will always just be known as the girl who had the tit job."

In the early hours of May 6 last year at the city's Hilton Hotel, Ms Sutcliffe then went on to expose her left breast to Ms Jackson and said: "Look at these, look at these, these are the breasts of someone who has had three children. They are ugly but I don't feel the need to pump myself full of silicone to get self-esteem."

The haranguing concluded when Ms Sutcliffe told her colleague she was no longer going to support a further promotion for her.

Ms Jackson, who was appointed by Ms Sutcliffe as a temporary superintentendent in a secondment role, later said she was "shocked, mortified, embarrassed and ashamed" at the comments made by her superior.

Ms Jackson, who has since transferred to Cumbria Constabulary, said she had suffered "great anxiety from the night itself and since".

Following media coverage of the incident, she said she had been "pilloried" on social media, including the Twitter hashtag Titgate referencing the events.

An online poll had also been conducted on her breasts, she said.

Ms Jackson, who was not present at the hearing, said: "It has been the most distressing and hurtful experience of my life."

Fiona Barton QC, representing Greater Manchester Police, said Ms Sutcliffe also called Ms Jackson "silly, vain and frivolous" and that her promotion prospects were "unlikely" because her "credibility was zero and nobody took her seriously".

While in the hotel bar, Ms Sutcliffe had brought up the subject of Ms Jackson's recent breast enhancement surgery.

Ms Sutcliffe - the highest-ranking female GMP officer at the time - had opened the conference on May 4 and attended the gala dinner the following evening, where she delivered the address on behalf of GMP to the attendees.

Ms Jackson recalled that later during the evening, the Chief Constable of GMP, Ian Hopkins, told her: "Sarah, please don't leave me on my own with Rebekah. She is drunk. She is driving me mad."

Ms Sutcliffe, who is currently suspended, admits misconduct but denies gross misconduct.

Miss Barton told the panel consisting of chairwoman Rachel Crasnow QC, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Tom Winsor, and independent member Alastair Cannon, that Ms Sutcliffe's conduct at the conference was so serious that dismissal would be justified.

Ms Sutcliffe was unable to recall exactly how much she had had to drink but later recalled she "probably" had three or four glasses of wine at dinner and more later when delegates retired to the hotel bar.

She also accepted Ms Jackson to be a truthful person and had no reason to doubt her account.

John Beggs QC, representing Ms Sutcliffe, said it was "stupid" that his client allowed herself to drink too much and had behaved "unkindly" towards Ms Jackson.

He said character testimonials demonstrated she was not ordinarily an "unkind person" and "the opposite is true", and that the consequences of the incident had had a "profoundly chastening effect on her".

Her misconduct over a short period of time when in drink was to be contrasted against her "many years of distinguished and impressive public service", it was argued.

She was said to be under "significant professional pressure" and was "carrying a heavy professional workload".

Ms Sutcliffe was also subjected to "significant" personal pressures with health problems amid planning for her marriage later that month.

It was submitted that the public interest in the case "weighs heavily" in allowing Ms Sutcliffe to continue as a senior and "highly competent police officer serving the public in her expert and dedicated manner".

Members of the panel were asked to give Ms Sutcliffe a "second chance" and let her return to "a job she loves".

The barrister read out a statement from Sir Peter Fahy, the former chief constable of GMP, who had promoted Ms Sutcliffe twice and felt she had the "potential to be a chief constable".

Sir Peter stated: "I have the highest regard for Rebekah's professional abilities. She is a gifted individual who has overcome a number of professional challenges ... with a strong principle of social justice and care of victims."

He added, though, that "with every strong leader, she had her weak points and human frailties".

Mr Beggs said: "One such frailty led to the outcome which causes us to be here today."

A ruling on Ms Sutcliffe's conduct is expected to be announced by the panel on Thursday when the hearing continues at GMP force HQ.

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