Police chairman to step down next month

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The chairman of Lincolnshire Crime and Police Panel has confirmed he will quit the post next month.

In a statement released today, Councillor Ray Wootten says he will be stepping down at the panel’s annual meeting next month.

It is the latest twist on the on-going fall-out surrounding Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick’s controversial decision to suspend acting Chief Constable Neil Rhodes.

Mr Rhodes has been re-instated, pending the result of an investigation carried out by Sir Peter Fahy.

Coun Wootten’s decision follows his appearance before MP’s earlier this week who questioned the handling of the situation regarding Mr Rhodes.

Coun Wootten said: “I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the position regarding my testimony to the House of Commons Home Office Select Committee on Leadership and Standards in the Police Service.

“I believe that I inadvertently gave the incorrect impression that I was not allowed to hold an extraordinary meeting of the Police and Crime Panel. I now accept that this was incorrect.

“The correct position is I was given advice that it was not desirable to hold a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel to discuss the suspension of the acting chief constable, whilst various legal and HR issues were still under investigation, for example the Judicial Review and the Sir Peter Fahy investigation, which is still on-going.

“It was important that we did not compromise those reviews. Following careful consideration, as chairman, I decided not to hold a meeting, which I still stand by.

“However, I did decide to hold a meeting on the 9th May to appoint the task and finish group which will start work once the Sir Peter Fahy report is completed.

“I have already apologised to the legal officer I referred to at the Select Committee and will be sending a correction to the Select Committee Chairman, Keith Vaz MP.

“I am very sorry that this misleading impression was given, my only explanation was I felt under excess pressure at the hearing and did not explain the situation clearly enough.

“I acted in good faith throughout. I gave evidence to the Select Committee in order to assist the matter.

“I held a meeting of the PCP on May 9 2013 for the purpose of arranging a task group so that we are able to respond to the wider issue of performance as efficiently as possible at the correct time.

“I will be standing down as chairman of the Police and Crime Panel at the annual general meeting in June.”

Coun Wootten’s decision could increase pressure on Mr Hardwick who is due to visit Coningsby Town Council’s annual meeting tonight (Thursday).