Commissioner’s “absolute confidence” in police chief

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Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has expressed his “absolute confidence” in the county’s top cop, Chief Constable Andy Marsh after receiving an update on the progress of Operation Oregon –despite calls to suspend him from duty.

Last week Ukip County Councillor Tony Hooke delivered a letter in person to Commissioner Simon Hayes demanding he suspend the Chief Constable who is the subject of a police investigation into allegations regarding the handling of child abuse claims at Stanbridge Earls School, Romsey – claims that date back to 2010.

A review of the original investigation codenamed Operation Flamborough ended last week after 6,000 hours of police work with the CPS announcing that no charges will be brought .

But the Chief Constable remains under investigation by Essex police as part of Operation Oregon amid allegations that there had been a cover-up to protect the reputation of Hampshire Constabulary.

The Police and Crime Commissioner has issued a statement today saying that he had been informed by the senior investigating officer that:

 “Following a further review of the material obtained by Operation Oregon to date, there are presently no grounds to justify the service of misconduct notices upon Chief Constable Marsh”

 

Cllr Hooke at PCC's office with letter

Cllr Hooke at PCC’s office with letter

The Police and Crime Commissioner said:

“This should provide reassurance to the public that Chief Constable Andy Marsh has conducted himself appropriately and his leadership of Hampshire Constabulary is not in question.

Through this statement, I would like to reiterate my absolute confidence in the Chief Constable and in Hampshire Constabulary. I will continue to keep residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight informed as this matter progresses to a conclusion.”

The PCC’s office have confirmed that the regular ‘compass’ meetings between the Commissioner and the Chief Constable that had been suspended due to Operation Oregon, will now resume and that the meeting that was scheduled for last week will now take place in June.

The suspension of these meetings, which are designed to provide scrutiny of the Chief Constable, was a matter of concern to both Cllr Hooke and campaigners Nadine and Matt O’Connor of Fathers4justice and Stan Evans of CorruptPoliceUK who had accompanied Cllr Hooke to the PCC’s office.

Campaigner and blogger Nadine O’Connor told me that fathers4justice had supported parents at Stanbridge Earls during the investigations and that she thought the Police and Crime Commissioner could not do his job properly if he was unable to hold the Chief Constable to account because compass meetings were suspended.

Stan Evans expressed similar concerns saying he had a number of outstanding issues regarding policing in Hampshire, that he wished to have raised at the meetings.

Cllr Hooke is due to host a public meeting tonight (May 6) to discuss “Confidence in the Leadership of Hampshire Constabulary” in the Mitchell Conference Room at Hampshire County Council offices, Winchester between 7pm and 8.30pm.

  6 comments for “Commissioner’s “absolute confidence” in police chief

  1. Equitas
    May 6, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    I personally attended the (so called!) public meeting arranged by County Councillor Hooke at 7pm on 6 May 2014 at QE Court Hampshire County Council HQ Winchester. The meeting was convened, according to an article in the Eastleigh News http://www.eastleighnews.co.uk/2014/05/commissioners-absolute-confidence-in-police-chief/ ), “to discuss “Confidence in the Leadership of Hampshire Constabulary” “. The meeting was due to last c1.5 hours. Approximately 30 people attended.

    The meeting was opened at 7.10pm by a Mr Matt O’Connor who didn’t explain who he was or what role he had in the organisation or administration of the meeting – I did ask for this information out loud at the meeting but no answer came there from either O’Connor or County Cllr Hooke! I believe he and his partner Nadine O’Connor were instrumental in establishing Fathers4Justice and his picture appears on their website and in Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/Fathers4Justice Nadine was also at the meeting taking names as people turned up. What Fathers4Justice has to do with confidence in the police remains a mystery!

    Matt O’Connor told the meeting categorically that the PCC’s Compass meetings “exclude members of the public” He also told the meeting that Hampshire County Council had instructed him that the meeting could only be held provided “no personal information was discussed to identify an individual AND that no defamatory statements were made about anybody at the meeting”. He said it was impossible to hold a public meeting under these conditions and called for a minute’s silence (without explanation!) before handing over to County Cllr Hooke.

    Personally I was dumbfounded by the statement that Compass meetings were not open to members of the public (contrary to my previous experience where the public are invited to submit prior questions and can participate online during the meetings!). In other words the premise O’Connor came up with was incorrect and immediately undermined any confidence I had in attending what I hoped would be a constructive meeting!

    Councillor Hooke then proceeded to discontinue his “public meeting” and those attending were invited to attend a local hostelry ;departing en masse. I expected to attend a “public meeting” and quite frankly have no truck with attending meetings at a pub which would debar some on conscientious or religious grounds. In other words it could no longer be regarded as a public meeting!

    I also looked at the CorruptPoliceUK website http://www.corruptpoliceuk.com/ to discover some highly defamatory material (Stan Evans is referred to in the Eastleigh News article) about Hampshire’s Chief Constable. Again such material does nothing to give confidence in the impartiality and objectivity I expect in a public meeting from the organisers BUT rather more the actions of trouble makers hell bent on pillorying the Police and PCC!

    At 7.56pm I phoned HCC Tel 01962 846161) from home to ascertain whether any message had been left by the organisers as to where the meeting had been reconvened – so that any member of the public might be redirected to enable them to have a voice. An employee kindly phoned me back at 8pm and told me no message had been left and that he had no idea what had happened other than the meeting had concluded.

    To conclude, it appears that the organisers of this “public meeting” are as guilty as their allegations about the PCC’s Compass meetings not being open to members of the public! I am glad I took no further part in the meeting after it dissolved at the Castle.

  2. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    May 6, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Thank you for the report.

    I had wondered if the meeting, details of which were also published in the Romsey Advertiser, would go ahead.

    My understanding was that it had been called in response to the cancellation of last week’s compass meeting but the PCC has said the compass meeting will now take place in June.

  3. May 16, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Congratulations to ‘Equitas’ who has provided an exceptionally long response to a meeting he actually didn’t attend, which is a shame, I would like to have heard his points.

    The COMPASS meeting planned by Mr Hayes PCC on the subject of ‘Trust in the Police’ was not open. The PCC asked, on his website, for questions to be submitted, that his office would select and filter and answer at a non public meeting. This meeting would be filmed (as others have been at Winchester University facilities) then the film placed on the internet for all to view. This is not an open meeting, it is closed to the public with questions selected by the OPCC. Furthermore rules for questions were defined on the OPCC website that excluded reference to any ongoing case.
    Even the PCC admits that his rescheduled meeting needs to be open as opposed to how the original meeting was arranged. Mr Equitas is bluntly wrong and is not telling the truth on multiple accounts throughout his strange posting to The Eastleigh News forum.

    All PCC’s are obliged to hold regular meetings throughout the year to meet transparency requirements. The Mr Hayes PCC cancelled the meeting then when complaints and requirements were made aware to him he hastily rescheduled the meeting and plans for the next meeting to be open.

    The reason for the complaints and pressure to reschedule was that there is substantial public interest in an open COMPASS meeting. One was independently arranged and members of the public were invited.

    The meeting was arranged to meet at Hampshire Country Council office’s where upon arrival attendees were informed that HCC had issued rules that prevented any form of discussion. Readers may be interested to note that the legal advisor for HCC is exactly the same legal advisor currently employed by the Office of the Police Crime Commissioner (to which the PCC has already stated there is no conflict of interest, this is interesting considering what happened at the public Open Compass meeting)

    The open meeting was then held at an hotel a few minutes walk away from the original HCC venue. It was held in a conference room which is part of a major hotel in Winchester. The only drinks on offer, in fact freely available to all at the table, was mineral water. No alcohol was consumed, this was a meeting to discuss trust in the police, not a meeting at a pub as insinuated by ‘Equitas’ who for absolute clarity attended the fine minute meeting at the HCC office, but decided not to attend the fully open meeting three minutes down the road when everyone else did. Incidentally had he bothered to come to that meeting he would, like everyone else, been invited to speak to the group regarding their issues.

    I actually, unlike Equitas, attended the meeting and my meeting report was published on my website here http://www.corruptpoliceuk.com/opencompassmeeting.html

    The strangely anonymous ‘Equitas’ (readers will note he hides behind a nickname and I do not) makes the serious accusation in his letter of defamation regarding my website, this should for validity be backed up. You can either do this legally or simply by asking open questions here or contact me via email on my website.
    If Mr Equitas would specify exactly where and whom I have defamed I will be happy to oblige him, with answers. If he had attended the meeting I could have done it there and then, I have no issue with responding to an opposing opinion and correcting inaccuracies.

    As mentioned earlier, all attendees had and most took the opportunity to make their non-filtered and non censored points. When I made mine I informed the group that I had submitted formal complaints to and about the Chief Constable, the Police Crime Commissioner and the Crown Prosecution Service on various issues. I am dealing with the various authorities in an open manner via the correct channels. Again for clarity, the corruptpoliceuk website is pro-Police and anti corruption and there is no defamation on it by me. There are numerous incidents where officers have brought their own Constabulary into disrepute, but please don’t shoot the messenger by calling it defamation when it is not.

    Kind regards, Stan Evans, corruptpoliceuk.com

  4. May 16, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Dear Sirs, I write as the co-organiser of the Open Compass Meeting held on the 6th May 2014. The comments made by “Equitas” make disturbing reading. For someone connected to Hampshire Police he displays precisely the very attributes that makes people question whether they should have confidence in the police. Firstly the references to Fathers 4 Justice are completely irrelevant to the Compass Meeting. My husband and I, while running Fathers 4 Justice, do actually do other things – shock horror! We are individuals and citizens of Hampshire in our own right. As the owners of several businesses, with children and family living in Hampshire we have just as much right as anyone else to be concerned and connected to this important issue. It was clear that “Equitas” came to the meeting with an “agenda” that had nothing to do with “Confidence in the Police”. Was he a “plant” form the his associate Simon Hayes? His sole intention was to personally attacking Matt and I, asking personal questions about our financial and personal interests and to imply that we had been paid to run the meeting on behalf of others, which is categorically un true. “Equitas” came with the intention of disrupting the meeting, which was evident to everyone who witnesses his embarrassing and unbecoming conduct. I understand that several of those attending spoke to him as we left HCC offices and expressed their disgust. HCC were not informed about where we had adjourned to because quite frankly it was none of their business. If anyone is going to make unfounded, slanderous and defamatory allegations about events reported on here in the future maybe they could be verified first and we could be offered a right to reply. Nadine O’Connor

  5. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    May 16, 2014 at 11:06 am

    So if the commissioner holds all his compass meetings in public halls on a ‘come one come all’ basis in future, that’ll be ok then?

    As for pre-screening questions, there must be legal reasons they can’t comment publicly on ongoing cases surely – is that unreasonable?

    My understanding is the PCC can’t intervene in individual cases anyway and these meetings are about general policing issues and strategy etc much like the old police authority.

    To the best of knowledge the PCC has only done one compass meeting at Winchester University’s TV studio last October (there’s no facility for an audience in the studio as it’s too small) the meetings are at a different venue each time.

    Obviously on that occasion it was a good opportunity for journalism students to practice their skills and for the Uni to play a part in the wider community which they are keen to do.

    I think it’s a good idea, I wish Eastleigh Borough Council would stream their meetings!

    The Uni compass meeting is still online:

  6. May 17, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Come one come all?
    Obviously not, any management team can arrange that doesn’t happen. A very good ‘ask the PCC’s’ was held at Winchester University before the PCC elections, hundreds were in attendance. I was one of them. Why cant it happen again?

    Pre-screening questions / for legal reasons.
    Again, a good point, this must be done. BUT importantly NOT by the OPCC (it should be neutral) who have recently been involved in withdrawing and trying to kill discussions when the content and terms and conditions didn’t suit Mr Hayes PCC.

    The PCC cannot intervene.
    The PCC can and does intervene on individual cases, he did it on and for me via contact to the Chief Constable, he also intervened with a (probably too early) announcement re CC Marsh to media whilst Operation Oregon is still ongoing. He has direct, political and media influence and he is adept at using all three (that incidentally is not a criticism, its his job, we reserve criticism for when he does it unwisely or illegally).

    Winchester University / facility / journalism students.
    The university has excellent recording facilities which have been used before by the PCC and CC. As mentioned they have lecture hall facilities where recording has also been actioned to question the PCC candidates with Alex Forsyth as the host. The excuse from the PCC that a room is too small for public is not valid.
    I have met and spoken with the journalism students at Winchester and they are an impressive and already professional group. They were behind the organisation and filming of the PCC election, proof that on our doorstep we have individuals and resources very capable of arranging a well organised and non politically influenced OPEN COMPASS meeting.

    There is one additional issue though. There are currently serious formal complaints against the OPCC raising the issue of ‘trust in the PCC’, so one wonders how the PCC can arrange a meeting called anything like ‘trust in the Police’ at this time.

    I am still awaiting contact from Equitas re his criticism or questions, I find it strange that individuals (who I now find out full details of and his association with the Police) are happy to make serious accusations but don’t care to back them up. I can promise Equitas, the CC, the PCC, any legal representative or anyone, you wont find that situation with me or the contents of my website.
    I challenge Equitas to reveal his full name, back up his disgraceful criticism of my website, provide challenging questions to me, or apologise. It would be wonderful to see some openness and honesty and in fact some constructive discussion on these subjects.

    Stan Evans – corruptpoliceuk.com

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