HC Deb 16 July 1959 vol 609 cc52-3W
70. Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reply he has received from the Town Clerk of Nottingham to his letter of 9th July, asking on what grounds the Chief Constable of Nottingham has been suspended from duty by the Watch Committee; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been informed by the Town Clerk that the grounds on which the Chief Constable has been suspended from duty are

  1. (1) the Chief Constable's refusal to comply with the Committee's instructions to inform the Committee about the inquiries by Scotland Yard officers into Corporation matters in Nottingham;
  2. (2) the report of the Town Clerk regarding the Chief Constable's conduct; and
  3. (3) the Chief Constable's statement that he proposed to ask for a public inquiry.

At a meeting with officers of my Department yesterday the Town Clerk explained that his report, to which reference is made in the second of these grounds, was made orally at the meeting of the Watch Committee at which the decision to suspend was taken and related to two cases of police inquiries affecting members or officers of the Council carried out in circumstances which, it was suggested, disclosed a lack of impartiality on the Chief Constable's part.

I have had a reply sent to the Town Clerk indicating that, as regards the first of these grounds, the Chief Constable would, in my view, have been in breach of his duty if he had in fact complied with the instruction to inform the Watch Committee about the inquiries by Scotland Yard officers in the case in question. A chief officer of police has a duty to enforce the criminal law and should not in so doing be subject to control or interference by the police authority.

As regards the second ground, I have said that in so far as offences were being investigated, the same considerations apply; and that I am not satisfied from the information at present available to me that the circumstances were such as to justify the suspension of the Chief Constable as unfit for the discharge of his duty. As regards the third ground, I have pointed out that I have received no request for a public inquiry from the Chief Constable and that in any event it is not clear why suspension from duty on that ground should be thought appropriate.

I hope that the Committee will share my view that the case should be brought to an immediate conclusion and I have asked them now to consider further their decision to suspend the Chief Constable; and inform me as soon as possible of the conclusion at which they arrive.