Suspended chief constable would be frothing at mouth, hearing told
Simon Byrne, who was suspended from Cheshire Constabulary last year, is accused of gross misconduct.
An alleged victim of a “bullying” chief constable has told his misconduct hearing he would be “red in the face and literally frothing at the mouth” during angry outbursts.
Simon Byrne, who was suspended from Cheshire Constabulary last year, is accused of gross misconduct for breaching standards of professional behaviour in respect of authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.
He was often red in the face and literally frothing at the mouth
An officer, referred to as Witness C, gave evidence to the hearing at Warrington Town Hall on Tuesday with a screen so she could not see Mr Byrne.
She described the atmosphere in the office as “toxic” and said staff felt anxious and apprehensive because of Mr Byrne’s “erratic and unpredictable behaviour”.
In a statement, she said: “He was often red in the face and literally frothing at the mouth.”
She described his behaviour as “dictatorial” and said she felt it was meant to instil fear in staff.
When I had previously challenged the chief constable I felt like I was targeted
The hearing was told she had gone off work sick with stress after reporting Mr Byrne’s behaviour and had started legal proceedings against the force.
She said: “I felt very vulnerable. When I had previously challenged the chief constable I felt like I was targeted.”
The hearing was told she believed Mr Byrne may have nominated himself for the Queen’s Police Medal, which he was awarded in 2016, instead of being nominated by somebody else.
However, Gerry Boyle QC, representing Mr Byrne, said the investigation into the chief constable had exonerated him in relation to that.
The hearing also heard from the force’s former head of IT Andrew Herndlhofer, who Mr Byrne is alleged to have “berated and belittled” in front of other staff.
Mr Herndlhofer said Mr Byrne had insisted on being provided with an iPad when he arrived at the force from the Metropolitan Police in 2014, despite them not being used generally in the force and work being needed to create suitable software.
He said the technology became a “running sore” as there were a number of problems with it and Mr Byrne’s use of it was “bordering on incompetent”.
He said: “There’s no system in the world where if you keep locking yourself out of the device it’s going to be a good user experience.”
Witness C said on one occasion she was told by Mr Byrne’s personal assistant Jane Orme he had let his children use his iPad and they had downloaded games which had caused problems.
Mr Herndlhofer estimated the department of half a dozen technicians received about five calls a week about problems with the device and described Mr Byrne’s attitude as “completely uncompromising”.
“It was just ‘it’s got to work’ and if it didn’t work straight away it was rubbish,” he said.
Mr Byrne, whose contract as chief constable expired last month, denies the allegations.