Ex-chief constable quits £100K police scrutiny job amid storm

Ex-chief constable who led discredited ‘witch hunt’ against Ted Heath over false sex abuse claims quits £100K police scrutiny job just two months after appointment amid storm over misconduct claims

  • Mike Veale – who was Chief Constable of Cleveland police – is facing disciplinary
  • He has not stepped down from £100,00o job with police and crime commisioner 

The former chief constable who led a disgraced witch hunt into Ted Heath abuse claims has quit his £100,000 job – days after the appointment was branded ‘absolutely disturbing’.

Mike Veale – who was the former Chief Constable of Cleveland police – is facing disciplinary proceedings from his time on the force sparked by ‘serious allegations’.

Despite this, Leicestershire’s police and crime commissioner Rupert Matthews thought him the perfect choice to be appointed to his office as a £100,000 advisor.

Then Mr Matthews ‘promoted’ him to the senior salaried role of interim chief executive to the commissioner’s organisation.

The decision was much criticised, including during a debate in the House of Lords when one member described his appointment as ‘absolutely disturbing’.

Mike Veale – who was the former Chief Constable of Cleveland police – is facing disciplinary proceedings from his time on the force sparked by ‘serious allegations’

Now Mr Veale has quit under growing criticism at the long delay to disciplinary proceedings he faces from his time as Chief Constable of Cleveland police.

The Cleveland police and crime commissioner, Steve Turner, has been accused of talking ‘impenetrable gobbledegook’ in his explanations as to why Veale, who quit in February 2019 after just 12 months in charge, has still not been brought before a disciplinary panel.

Veale quit Cleveland after ‘serious allegations’ about his behaviour.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigated allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards colleagues, discrimination and unprofessional behaviour, said to be of a ‘serious nature.’

Announcing Veale’s departure from his office, Rupert Matthews said the resignation had come as a result of ‘continued negative media coverage’.

He said: ‘I can confirm that Mike Veale has resigned from his post as interim chief executive. In light of the continued negative media coverage regarding his, albeit temporary, appointment he felt that this move was in the best interests of my office.

Allegations about Ted Heath were investigated as part of Operation Midland, the Metropolitan police inquiry into historical claims of child abuse and related homicides sparked by fantasist Carl Beech, pictured.

‘It’s disappointing but I understand his position. I would like to place on record my appreciation of Mike’s significant contribution to my office and wish him well in the future.’

He added: ‘I said in December that I would recruit to the substantive post in the new year, so very little has actually changed. I will update the panel on my arrangements in due course. However, temporary arrangements are already in place to ensure I comply with my statutory duties.’

His resignation comes days after a debate in the House of Lords called for a ‘proper investigation in this man Veale.’

Peers were unhappy with Steve Turner’s explanation as to why proceedings had suffered such lengthy delays.

Mr Turner had previously explained: ‘It is complicated, it is interwoven with other things, and there is an order of things that I cannot supercede’.

That went down badly with Conservative peer Lord Lexden, who told the chamber: ‘How can this impenetrable gobbledegook possibly be reconciled with proper public accountability?’

Lord Sharpe, who has ministerial responsibility for the Home Office as Parliamentary Under Secretary, said the matter lay with the Cleveland PCC.

The prompted another Conservative peer, Lord Cormack, to respond: ‘The Minister* gives the impression of an incompetent and impotent Home Office. We really must have a proper inquiry into this man Veale and he must be properly dealt with.’

To add to Mr Veale’s woes, he has also been accused of having a ‘personal and undisclosed relationship’ with Cleveland Police’s then head of standards Christiana Emsley.

This accusation was made by a high ranking Cleveland officer when disciplinary proceedings against her were dropped last March.

As she was cleared, Superintendent Beverley Gill made a statement to her disciplinary hearing, saying: She said: ‘The history of the investigation against me which led to the bringing of these proceedings has been biased, flawed and inherently unfair.

‘I have been used as the warning to others sought by former Chief Constable Mike Veale. Improper control and influence on the investigation appears to have arisen because of his personal and undisclosed relationship with Christiana Emsley.

‘Witness statements display loaded questions, witnesses disliked me based on my direct management style and statements are loaded with opinion, rumour and hearsay evidence.

‘The conduct of this investigation by Cleveland police has seriously compromised the outcome of the final IOPC-led investigation.’ 

Mr Veale is best known for leading Wiltshire police when they were investigating Ted Heath, who was prime minister between 1970 and 1974.

Allegations about him were investigated as part of Operation Midland, the Metropolitan police inquiry into historical claims of child abuse and related homicides sparked by fantasist Carl Beech.

Operation Conifer, the arm of Operation Midland specifically focusing on Heath, found that there was no reason to suspect he had carried out a string of sexual assaults, but said he would have been interviewed if he were still alive.

The controversial investigation into Heath, which began in 2015, is estimated to have cost more than £1.2m.

A previous investigation into Veale was launched in January 2018 by the IOPC following anonymous claims that he had damaged his police-issued mobile phone to hide contacts with ‘various parties’ during Operation Conifer, which looked into claims about the late prime minister that were eventually dismissed.

The IOPC said in September of that year there was no evidence that Veale had deliberately damaged the phone in order to hide information, but it reprimanded him for telling colleagues that it had been dropped in a golf club car park and inadvertently run over.

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