Fedster + 1,307 Posted March 21, 2018 Share Posted March 21, 2018 Officer challenged failure to disclose evidence to panel. The High Court sat in Leeds for the case A former detective dismissed for looking up information about his son on police computer systems has lost an appeal against the process at the High Court. Ex-detective constable Steven O'Connor challenged his dismissal from West Yorkshire Police, mainly on the grounds that evidence in his favour should have been disclosed to a misconduct panel. O'Connor was dismissed from the force after he was found to have viewed the nominal record of his son Thomas six times between mid-2014 and late 2015. In November 2016 a panel found there had been no malicious motive and no criminal investigations were compromised but felt public confidence needed to be maintained, and dismissed him. O'Connor claimed he did look up the info for policing reasons. The hearing was told that Thomas had apparently been shot and an inspector had spoken to him about this. But after it retired to consider the allegations, it emerged the panel had not been told about an email from the retired inspector to an officer investigating misconduct. He said he could understand why the claimant would have been approached by police personnel seeking to get hold of Thomas and why discussion should take place between O'Connor and his colleagues about it. Phillip Benson, the retired inspector who worked with O'Connor, said he was aware the former detective had been asked to get a message to his son. He said DC Leanne Horsfield, investigating the misconduct allegation, asked if he would have given O'Connor permission to use police computer systems and replied he had not told him to. But he added: "If he had done so to achieve the task that I had set him, then in my opinion that was for a policing purpose, there was nothing wrong with it and I would back him 100 per cent." Despite this, the investigating officer's note on Mr Benson said the ex-inspector could not remember "any specific incident involving DC O'Connor and his son". The former officer appealed his dismissal on the grounds that the withheld statement provided additional support to his argument he had been acting for a policing purpose, that the case against him was put together in bad faith by DC Horsfield and it was unfair. Having lost an appeal against the ruling at a tribunal, O'Connor lost another appeal at the High Court, sitting in Leeds, last week. His Honour Judge Saffman found the appeal judge was right to rule the investigating officer was entitled to believe Mr Benson's evidence was not relevant and that it was unlikely to have made a difference to the panel's decision. This is because it did not prove the detective had been asked to look up the information, rather he may have been backed if he had done so. Crucially, the judge also noted: "[The allegations put in front of the misconduct panel] related to access to the police computer systems at various times, many months later where there had been no request by another officer for the claimant to do anything with regard to Thomas. "These were accesses which were entirely at the claimant's [O'Connor's] initiative and not for a purpose associated with any other officer's enquiries." Accusations of bad faith were "unsupported conjecture" the judge chairing the first appeal ruled, and the High Court upheld this aspect too. View On Police Oracle Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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