Alison's musings

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ghost of Chief Constable's Past

Christmas has come and gone and garlands and decorations stored for next year’s festivities. It’s all part of the Christmas package. So too are ghost stories. Like me you may have seen some classics on the goggle-box over the lead up to Christmas.
Well ghosts come back to haunt us all. And that was true for me towards the end of 2005. You may have seen this link Liverpool Museum or this BBC N Wales

Maybe you have even seen the ghost in the ‘flesh’. My old uniform as Britain’s then most senior policewoman brought back many memories …many bad and one salutary ghost story to outdo most others. I wore that uniform with pride but was forced to take my case over phone tapping and discrimination to the Court of Human Rights.

Merseyside Chief Constable, Jim Sharples, (plain Jim then) was spared the pain and embarrassment of cross-examination in the Witness Box, nor did he have to defend his actions or face damning evidence of file tampering or re-writing minutes of official police documents, done to support his defence. As the case panned out, Home Office pressed a settlement thus sparing possible humiliation and exposure of his weak defence and his inability to justify his outrageous accusations and unscrupulous behaviour during the protracted delay it took to hear the case. Knighted by a Tory Home Secretary, he went on to draw his full pension (a princely sum it should be noted). Jim left Merseyside in 1998 and an accommodating Home Office refused to withdraw his knighthood although he had been severely criticised by the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights in 1997.

The judges acknowledged that in attempting to undermine my discrimination case, Jim had acted unethically. My Human Rights had been infringed and the Government was forced to change in British law, but less willing to change attitudes?

Sir Jim even went on to augment his generous police pension with a cushy £25,000 pa retirement job as chair of Countess of Chester Foundation; cashing in on his status as an ex-chief constable and possibly, a dodgy knighthood despite his appalling human rights and equality record! ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire, did I hear? Well, seemingly dissatisfied with the going rate, there’s plotting afoot to raise his dosh to £40,000 per year. Nice work if you can get it but the NHS pot must stretch to Jim’s remuneration. And is this is the best way of spending finite resources? Nasty rumours abound that cuts are planned for nurses teaching at the Countess of Chester, despite a worrying shortage of qualified nurses.

Although Jim avoided the rigours of an Equality Tribunal, perhaps he’s prepared to tell us how the proposed salary increases is to be funded, and whether he has any plans to do the job without the ‘piggy in trough’ increase? After all, he’s already cost the tax-payer millions as the public paid for his force’s legal defence! Some small contribution for wrecking a decent career and causing a law change in phone tapping might not come amiss??

Because of sleaze in public office, Lord Nolan suggested standards for public servants! INTEGRITY and fair play were just two. Perhaps Sir James will enlighten us as to whether or not he is totally quailed under the Nolan Principles to hold down yet another expensively paid public appointment. I fear that Sir James will do what he did when the witness box and oaths beckoned, get others to answer for him.

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