Alan Hardwick Vs Neil Rhodes: A full overview of what has happened to Lincolnshire Police’s top two today

The suspension of Lincolnshire’s acting chief constable Neil Rhodes has been quashed by the high court in Manchester.

But Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Alan Hardwick has said he stands by his decision to suspend Mr Rhodes .

Mr Rhodes went to court last week to challenge his suspension in February, which was made because of allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

He strenuously denied any wrong-doing saying his suspension was “unlawful” and asked a judge at the High Court in Manchester to grant a judicial review so he can get it quashed.

It was claimed he helped a senior Muslim lawyer from another force use his ethnicity to pursue damages following his dismissal.

Mr Rhodes “friended” West Yorkshire Police lawyer Afzal Hussain, who was dismissed from the force after 17 years and was suing his former employer, and became involved in the proceedings, the court heard.

The PCC suspended Mr Rhodes following claims made by Fraser Sampson, the chief executive and solicitor to the PCC for West Yorkshire, the court heard.
The commission said it took the action against the chief constable because “If Fraser Sampson is right... Temporary Chief Constable Rhodes has been complicit in the pursuit of racial discrimination claims which are a ‘contrivance’ and which he knows to be untrue and only pursued as leverage.

However, John Beggs QC, representing Mr Rhodes in the case against the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, said the chief constable acted in good 
faith by trying to get the parties involved around the table.

Mr Hardwick said he believed his actions had been appropriate in line with his duties, even though the judge in the case described his decision as ‘unlawful’.

He added: “I have to accept the court’s ruling. The whole matter hinged on the fact that the judge’s interpretation of one document disagreed with my interpretation. The judge decided that his interpretation had more validity.

“I was elected by the people of Lincolnshire to represent their interests, and I believe I have done that. Being a Police and Crime Commissioner is about ensuring the safety and security of people in the county and I maintain that what I was doing was serving those interests.”

Mr Hardwick announced he had no intention to resign over this matter, and that he was ‘confident’ that he and Mr Rhodes would be able to work together in the future.

But, a member of the panel that scrutinises the role of the recently-elected commissioner said he fears this will not be the end of the matter.

Coun Paul Przyszlak said the decision relates to whether the ‘process’ surrounding the decision was correct and does not solve the issue that caused the suspension in the first place.

Mr Rhodes’ temporary contract with the force is thought to be about to end and Coun Przyszlak says he believes that he will not stay on, leaving Mr Hardwick to search for a replacement.

He said: “It is sad for Lincolnshire and finding a replacement now won’t be easy.

“I am assuming that he is unlikely to give him a permanent contract now. Can they ever work together?”

Coun Przyszlak said he expects the panel to debate the way in which the suspension decision was made and hopes more will be revealed about the case.

He said: “No doubt it will all come out in the wash but at the moment we are in limbo other than we now have a judgement that says the procees was flawed.

“I think we need to know more about what was behind it.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “It is for PCCs to make decision around appointing, suspending and removing chief constables.

“The PCC will wish to consider the court’s judgement.

An independent investigation by Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, will continue, the commissioner confirmed.