Head of police watchdog resigns over investigation into alleged relationship with underage girl

Michael Lockwood, former director-general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct
Michael Lockwood, former director-general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct

The head of the police watchdog was forced to resign after police passed a file to prosecutors over an allegation he had engaged in underage sex in the 1980s.

Michael Lockwood, 63, the director-general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) , announced his resignation on Friday, saying he was doing so for “personal and domestic reasons”.

But it has emerged that Suella Braverman demanded he either quit or be suspended over the police inquiry. It is understood the Home Secretary was made aware of the investigation relating to an historic allegation after police in Humberside passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Telegraph understands the allegation refers to a claim that Mr Lockwood, when in his 20s, had a relationship with a teenage girl under the age of consent. The police inquiry is thought to have been long-running.

In a statement, Ms Braverman said: “I took immediate action upon being made aware that Mr Lockwood was the subject of a police investigation... and instructed my officials to ask him to resign or face immediate suspension from his role.”

It is understood that the decision to pass the file to prosecutors triggered the alert last week to the Home Secretary.

First director-general

Mr Lockwood, 63, took up the IOPC top job in January 2018, becoming the first person to hold the post. His five-year contract, worth £190,000 a year, was due to come to a finish at the end of the month. It is unclear if Mr Lockwood had applied for a contract extension or whether Ms Braverman would have granted it.

In his resignation statement issued on Friday, Mr Lockwood said: “It is with great sadness that I have decided to resign as director-general of the IOPC for personal and domestic reasons, and this will be effective from today.”

He said it had been an “enormous privilege” to serve as the IOPC’s first director-general and was “proud of the progress we have made”.

The IOPC said on Sunday that it had no intention of issuing any statements following the Home Secretary’s disclosure that Mr Lockwood was being investigated by police. “We don’t have any further comment,” an IOPC spokesman said. It is understood that Mr Lockwood had no legal obligation to inform the IOPC that he was under police investigation during his tenure.

Humberside Police did not respond to requests for comment while the CPS declined to comment. A CPS spokesman said: “We are neither confirming nor denying whether a file on this case has been received by the CPS.”

Mr Lockwood could not be reached for comment.

Grenfell Tower

Before joining the IOPC, Mr Lockwood had been chief executive of the London Borough of Harrow and had been asked by the Government to lead the “recovery and remediation” work following the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017. A qualified accountant, he had been chief executive at Elmbridge Council and previously worked for the National Audit Office and PwC.

The IOPC investigates serious allegations of misconduct or criminal offences by police officers and plays an important role in holding police forces to account.

It is often involved in sensitive investigations into allegations against serving officers in England and Wales, and its remit can involve interviewing victims of sex crimes and other vulnerable people.

The resignation of Mr Lockwood will give hope that the IOPC will reopen alleged misconduct investigations into police involved in Operation Midland, the inquiry which examined claims made by a fantasist Carl Beech, since jailed for 18 years for perverting the course of justice.

One victim of his false claims, Harvey Proctor, the former Conservative MP, said on Sunday it was now time for the IOPC to reinvestigate officers who believed Beech, leading to raids on his home and that of Lord Brittan, the former home secretary, and Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the former head of the Army and a veteran of D-Day.

Mr Proctor said: “I hope that Mr Lockwood’s resignation unblocks the IOPC’s decision not to reopen Operation Kentia, the IOPC investigation into the Metropolitan Police’s errors in Operation Midland.”

The IOPC had exonerated all the police officers referred to it over alleged misconduct in Operation Midland, leading to allegations of a ‘whitewash’.