Legal expenses paid for ex-chief and three others in Carry on Constable saga

News from Northumbria Police
News from Northumbria Police

Northumbria Police paid nearly £18,000 in legal costs to four former staff caught up in the ‘Carry on Constable’ employment tribunal.

The Force confirmed it paid for legal advice for the former Chief Constable Mike Craik and Assistant Chief Constable Greg Vant.

Mr Craik was accused of having had an extra-marital affair with Carolyn Peacock, his Assistant Chief Constable, whose husband was said to have punched him at a barbecue.

Mr Vant was alleged to have swapped emails about nipple tassels and had his ‘groin stroked’ by Craik’s secretary Juliet Bains.

All those involved strenuously denied the allegations which emerged during a tribunal brought by Denise Aubrey, the force’s head of legal services.

But the decision to pay their legal fees has prompted an angry response.

Sue Sim, the former Chief Constable, said: “I am shocked and appalled at a time when money in policing is reducing that the Chief Constable chose to waste those valuable resources on financing legal bills for former chief officers, all of whom retired on top pensions. I believe that this matter should be explored further by the appropriate bodies.”

Ms Aubrey lost her claim for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, victimisation and harassment. It is estimated that the total cost of the case – dubbed Carry On Constable – was £1.2million.

The tribunal last May heard claims that Chief Supt Jim Peacock confronted Mr Craik at his home when rumours of his wife’s infidelity emerged. Mr Craik’s wife Sharon, 58, allegedly ‘hit a panic alarm’ at the property in Bamburgh, which saw armed cops called out.

Details were removed from police logs, with officers ordered not to discuss it, the employment tribunal into the case of the force’s ex-head of legal services Denise Aubrey heard.

Now, an application made under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act has revealed that, as part of the tribunal, the Force paid £17,736 for legal advice for four former employees, including Mr Craik and Mr Vant.

When asked why, a spokesman said: “We shall not provide a response on this part of your request and shall rely on the exemption explained in Section 42 of the Act (Legal Professional Privilege), the rationale for the decision was discussed with external counsel.”

Meanwhile, the force has also refused to say what action, if any, has been taken on the criminal allegations revealed during the tribunal.

After the tribunal, Chief Constable Steve Ashman said that any allegations ‘will be considered in full’, but, in response to an FOI request, the Force refused to give any details on the investigation or even confirm if one was under way.