A report into the suspension of temporary Lincolnshire chief constable Neil Rhodes has been published this afternoon (Thursday).
It has concluded that no proof was found to back up an allegation of “potential conduct matters” that led to his suspension on February 26 by the county’s police and crime commissioner Alan Hardwick.
Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, was called in to investigate and it is his findings which have been revealed today. He has recommended that the allegation against Ch Cons Rhodes be formally withdrawn.
However, Mr Hardwick has said he “remains troubled” by the fact that the investigating officer was unable to find out exactly what was said in a conversation key to the allegation involving Ch Cons Rhodes and another officer.
Mr Hardwick said: “Elsewhere in the public service we have seen what happens when investigations are not carried out. In this case, the allegation was so serious that Sir Peter confirmed in his severity assessment it would have amounted to misconduct if proven. I therefore had no choice but to investigate it.
“I remain troubled by the nature of the allegation and that it has not been possible for the investigating officer to determine exactly what happened in a private conversation between two highly regarded and credible professionals in the policing world. This was exacerbated by significant inconsistencies in the evidence.”
He added: “I wish to express my thanks to Sir Peter for a thorough investigation. His recommendations are the right ones.
“I am pleased that we are able to bring what has been an unwanted and unwelcome distraction for the chief constable and me to a conclusion. We will both now be able to continue to focus fully on the business of policing Lincolnshire.
“I also want to express my thanks to chief constable Rhodes for the professionalism he has displayed throughout what has been a difficult period. I look forward to continuing our successful working relationship.”
Ch cons Rhodes has also today issued a statement, in which he thanks family, friends and colleagues for their support following the “spurious allegation”.
He said: “I am very grateful to Sir Peter for a thorough and comprehensive investigation and I am naturally delighted that I have been completely exonerated in relation to all aspects of the conduct allegation.
“I have sought over the last six months to maintain a dignified silence, safe in the knowledge that I knew that there was never any substance in the spurious allegation. I do not intend to depart from this approach, and wish simply to get on with my job of working with the commissioner to provide effective and improving policing for our county of Lincolnshire
“When the commissioner decides to recruit a permanent chief constable I can confirm that it is my intention to apply for the position.
“The past few months have been unusually challenging. I’ve been really grateful for the incredible support of my wife, our children and my close friends. The family that is Lincolnshire Police have been really strong in their encouragement and support. If I was surprised by the support of the professional community across the county who work with the police, I was simply humbled by the many, many messages I received, and continue to receive, from ordinary members of the public who I have never met. I just can’t thank all of you enough. It inspires me to work harder for you all.
“Following the judicial review decision, the commissioner and I resolved that we must draw a line beneath this matter, for the good of Lincolnshire, and demonstrate that we could work together productively and positively.”