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”
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.