Thursday, 8 July 2010

Police Chief disciplinary action abandoned

Disciplinary action against the former head of Jersey's police force has been dropped.

Mr Power retires in 12 days' time and Home Affairs Minister Ian Le Marquand says there's no time left to complete the inquiry which has so far cost more than £1m.

But Senator Le Marquand told States members there had been 'ample evidence' against Mr Power and he'll be making a further statement next week.

Mr Power said the abandonment of disciplinary proceedings means he can now be regarded as having been exonerated of all allegations.

No specific charges have ever been made against Mr Power, but his suspension is believed to be related to his handling of the historic child abuse investigation.

Mr Power has always said he's done nothing wrong.

Below is an extract from the States debate:-

Senator Le Marquand (Minister for Home Affairs)
Sir in relation to the contribution of the Connétable of St Helier he is, in my view, perpetuating a myth which has also been perpetuated for some time by the Deputy of St Martin both of whom have chosen to be, to nail their colours to the ‘Power’ mast, if I may put it that way, most firmly, perpetuating the myth that somehow Mr Power would have gone away

Greffier of the States (in the Chair)
If we could use his title please Minister

Senator Le Marquand (Minister for Home Affairs)
I’m sorry Sir, somehow the Chief Officer of Police would have gone away. The fact is, that he chose from day 1 to seek to say ‘I have done nothing wrong, I want to come back, in fact I’m going to bring legal proceedings against the Home Affairs Minister so that I can be reinstated. The fact is that there never was the option open to the Home Affairs Minister to simply pay him off – that was not something he was going to accept, that was not something he was ever going to agree to. So this is a complete myth which has been put over that somehow I had some other option open to me – the fact is it will very shortly be demonstrated when I reveal reports – which I hope to do next week – in relation to these matters that the Chief Officer of Police was very seriously at fault in a whole number of different ways, and members will then be able to judge whether my opinion of the matter.

Connétable of St Helier
Sir I think I ought to raise a point of order. I think for the Minister to pre-empt the disciplinary process is entirely wrong – the person concerned has no right of reply – this is not a judicial court – I suggest the Minister withdraws his remarks.

Senator Le Marquand (Minister for Home Affairs)
I am not withdrawing the remarks they are absolutely true and I have had to wait a very long time to say it and I will demonstrate that that is absolutely true next week from the reports which I have. I am well aware of the discipline matters, I am able to inform members if they are interested that I have today abandoned the discipline proceedings against the Chief Officer of Police upon the basis that it is impossible to finish them in the time – solely on that basis – there are ample grounds for disciplinary proceedings as will become apparent shortly [Interruption] I am not giving way, but maybe those members who have chosen to nail their colours so firmly to the mast - without actually checking with me as to what the real facts have been - may have to eat humble pie.

The following statement has been released by friends of Graham Power.

'Disciplinary proceedings against Mr Power are to be formally abandoned on 20th July 2010.

Mr Power will retire from the Police Service at midnight on 19th July 2010 after completing over 44 years service as a police officer. He is currently on leave prior to his retirement date.
Once he retires he will no longer be subject to the Chief Officer’s Disciplinary Code. Accordingly all disciplinary proceedings will cease.

Mr Power was suspended from duty on 12th November 2008 by the former Minister for Home Affairs, Andrew Lewis, who claimed that he had evidence relating to the management of the Historic Abuse Enquiry which justified action under the Disciplinary Code. His suspension was subsequently continued by the current Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Ian Le Marquand.

Mr Brian Moore, Chief Constable of Wiltshire, was appointed in December 2008 to carry out a disciplinary investigation and report to the Minister. Senator Le Marquand originally indicated that he expected Mr Moore to report to him by March 2009. Mr Power cooperated fully with the Disciplinary Investigation and at one stage provided a written statement of over 62,000 words.
No disciplinary action was taken in 2008.
No disciplinary action was taken in 2009.
No disciplinary action was taken in 2010.
No disciplinary charges were ever brought.
No disciplinary hearing was ever called.
The costs of the suspension and disciplinary investigation have been officially confirmed as exceeding one million pounds. In a recent written answer in the States the Minister for Home Affairs said that up to the end of May 2010 the cost of the suspension and disciplinary investigation had reached a total of £1,069,776. This figure does not include the costs of the time of the Civil Servants and Law Officers who have assisted the Minister. Costs will continue to rise both in relation to cover for the absence of the Chief Officer, and in connection with the enquiry into the suspension currently being carried out by Mr Brian Napier QC.

The suspension was controversial from the onset. In January 2009 the Connétable of St Helier, Simon Crowcroft, brought a Report and Proposition to the States requesting an independent review of the suspension before further expenditure was committed. The proposition was opposed by Ministers and narrowly defeated. In the summer of 2009 the suspension was the subject of a Judicial Review in the Royal Court, and on regular occasions since 2008 there have been questions and exchanges in the States.

In September 2009 Mr Power successfully applied to a Complaints Board hearing for the Chief Minister to be required to disclose information relating to the creation of the original suspension documents. The subsequent disclosure cast doubt on the truthfulness of the previous accounts given by Ministers of the suspension process.

Following a Report and Proposition from Deputy Bob Hill, the Chief Minister recently agreed to an independent review of the manner in which the original suspension was carried out, with terms of reference not dissimilar to those first proposed by the Connétable of St Helier in January 2009. That review is currently being carried out by Mr Brian Napier QC.

There have also been questions in the States regarding the length and cost of the investigation led by the Chief Constable of Wiltshire, with some specific questions focussed on the scale of expenses claimed for hotels, travel and meals.

At every stage Mr Power has denied any wrong-doing whatsoever in relation to the management of the Historic Abuse Enquiry or any other issue, and said that he would defend himself against any disciplinary action that was brought against him.
Mr Power has made the following statement in relation to the imminent abandonment of disciplinary proceedings:

“I am obviously pleased this unnecessary and unjustified disciplinary enquiry is now to be abandoned. In common with everyone else, I am entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The abandonment of disciplinary proceedings after almost two years means that I can now be regarded as having been exonerated of all allegations. That is not a matter of opinion. It is an accepted principle of justice. In these circumstances it is inevitable that attention will now be focussed on the actions of those responsible for initiating and continuing my suspension. While it would not be appropriate for me to become involved in any political exchange, I remain willing to assist with any legitimate enquiry in respect of the actions of those concerned.”

It is understood Mr Power has already given detailed evidence to the enquiry being conducted by Mr Brian Napier QC and has indicated his willingness to assist Mr Napier further should that be required.

Further details in respect of Mr Power’s retirement:

Mr Power joined the States of Jersey Police in 2000. Prior to that date he held a number of senior positions in the Police Service both in England and Scotland. Under the States of Jersey regulations relating to pensions and retirement the “Normal Retirement Age” for his position is 60. Mr Power reached that age in June 2007 but agreed to continue serving due to a number of retirements from senior positions in the Force which were taking place around the same time. He is now aged 63 and is therefore more than three years beyond the date on which he was expected to retire.

On the question of his retirement Mr Power has said:

“While I considered retiring in 2007 I felt at the time that it was right I should work beyond my retirement age in order to provide continuity of management for the Force. Since November 2008 I have further postponed my retirement in order to give the Minister for Home Affairs a fair opportunity to resolve the outstanding issues under the Disciplinary Code. I did however become frustrated at the continuing delays, and on a number of occasions in 2009 I issued public statements confirming that if matters were not resolved by 2010, I would delay my retirement no further. In January 2010 I effectively set a deadline by giving the Minister written notice that, come what may, I would retire in July of this year. This allowed the Minister a further 6 months to bring matters to a conclusion. For whatever reason, the Minister did not make effective use of that opportunity and in consequence I will retire on the date notified to the Minister at the start of this year.”

It is understood that Mr Power is retiring to England and has already left the island.

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