Cheshire’s chief constable allegedly breached professional standards and engaged in ‘discreditable conduct’ during his time in office, a gross misconduct hearing has heard.
Simon Byrne, who served as chief constable for Cheshire Constabulary from 2014 until he was suspended in 2017, has been accused of breaching professional standards of behaviour relating to authority, respect and courtesy towards fellow staff and subordinates, as well as engaging in discreditable conduct - claims which he has denied.
At the resumed hearing at Warrington Town Hall on Monday, the barrister acting on behalf of the police and crime commissioner’s office, John Beggs QC, said the allegations span Mr Byrne’s time since he joined Cheshire police in 2014, through to 2016.
Mr Beggs told the hearing panel that Mr Byrne’s “fixed term appointment” as chief constable came to an end on June 24, adding: “In short, the presenting side represented by myself allege that Mr Byrne, when chief constable, lacked self control on a personal level and exhibited volatile, unpredictable and sometimes offensive behaviour towards subordinate officers and staff.”
Mr Beggs said the allegations - which Mr Byrne denies - include claims that Mr Byrne ‘ranted inappropriately’ at subordinate staff and officers, would berate them on occasion, and humiliated them.
Addressing the panel, Mr Beggs added: “You will have to determine if these are proved and whether he (Mr Byrne) has breached the standards of professional behaviour alleged, and also whether such breaches are mere misconduct, or gross misconduct.
“It is likely to be found by you that no single act would possibly even cross the threshold of misconduct in isolation. What we say this case is actually about is a continuous pattern of behaviour, relentlessly applied to those whom, for whatever reason, Mr Byrne was not impressed with.”
Monday saw acting chief constable (ACC) Janette McCormick called to give evidence to the panel.
Mrs McCormick served as Mr Byrne’s deputy during his time in office and was quizzed by Mr Byrne’s legal representative, Gerry Boyle QC, about how she perceived his conduct during the time some of these alleged behaviours occurred.
Asking Mrs McCormick about the claims of one of the witnesses, Mr Boyle said: “During the time that you worked in the same office you never witnessed him shouting at anyone, or ranting or raising his voice to anyone? You never saw him humiliating anyone in front of anyone else?”
To all of these questions, Ms McCormick said ‘no’ and confirmed she had worked closely with, and in close proximity to, Mr Byrne for around two-and-a-half-years.
She was also asked about one specific complainant, who Mr Boyle said had gone to Mrs McCormick when she was struggling in her role working for Mr Byrne.
But Mrs McCormick confirmed, when asked by Mr Boyle, that the witness had been specifically asked if she was being bullied by Mr Byrne or if there was any issues with his behaviour that they could address, to which she had said ‘no’.
The hearing at Warrington Town Hall is scheduled to continue over the next two weeks until Friday, July 13.