Priti Patel ‘silent on scandal’ of adviser role for accused ex-police chief

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Home Secretary Priti Patel has been accused of staying “silent” over the “scandal” of a former chief constable “raking” in public money as a policing adviser while facing gross misconduct proceedings.

Mike Veale, who led a controversial inquiry into sex abuse claims against the late prime minister Sir Edward Heath when he was in charge of Wiltshire Police, is accused of breaching “standards of professional behaviour” during his time with Cleveland Police.

He stepped down as the northern force’s chief constable in 2019.

But Parliament heard he is living “the life of Riley on £100,000 a year” as an adviser to Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Rupert Matthews.

Mike Veale
Mr Veale stepped down as the northern force’s chief constable in 2019 (PA)

The Government was tackled at Westminster over the starting date of the misconduct hearing against Mr Veale, which was announced by the PCC for Cleveland last August.

Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford said: “Arrangements for the misconduct hearing of former chief constable Mike Veale are a matter for the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner and it would be inappropriate to comment further while those proceedings remain ongoing.”

Pressing the frontbench, Conservative peer Lord Lexden said: “May I remind the House that I have used every means open to me… to try to help bring the notorious Mike Veale to book, ever since as chief constable of Wiltshire he conducted an appallingly biased investigation of the allegations of sex abuse against Sir Edward Heath.

“I also remind the House that, in Cleveland, where he was chief constable, he is due to face a gross misconduct hearing.

“It was announced a year ago but has not even started.

“Meanwhile, Veale lives the life of Riley on £100,000 a year as adviser to the so-called Conservative PCC for Leicestershire and Rutland, who must have taken leave of his senses.

Home Secretary Priti Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel has been accused of staying “silent” over the “scandal” (PA)

“This scandal really must end. How on earth can the Home Office stand by helplessly while a disgraced ex-policeman rakes in public money?

“May I ask that arrangements be made for a small cross-party group from this House to see the Home Secretary as soon as possible?”

Lady Williams said: “I am more than happy to request that of the Home Secretary.

“I would hope he would agree that, through all his years of effort, a remedy is on its way to being sought through the misconduct hearing.

“In terms of the individual’s work in Leicester, that is a matter for the Leicester PCC.”

Labour peer Lord Bach, a former PCC for Leicestershire, said: “How much longer must this farce go on?

“You have a twice-disgraced ex-chief constable awaiting a gross misconduct hearing that by law should have been heard months ago, still advising for good money a police and crime commissioner in holding the Leicestershire Police to account.

“You couldn’t make it up.

“The Home Secretary is never short of advising on the right and wrong. Why is she and the Home Office so silent on this scandal?”

Lady Williams said: “It is a matter for the legally qualified chair to convene a misconduct hearing, usually within a 100 days, but it can be longer if the interests of justice will be served and therefore the legally qualified chair has obviously made a judgement on that.

“In terms of the issue of Leicester, it is a matter for the Leicester PCC.

“The Government will not intervene in a matter with the PCC.”

A spokesman for the Office of the PCC for Leicestershire said: “Mr Veale’s position has been reviewed and he remains an adviser to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“It is important to note that he is currently not in breach of any misconduct regulations and as the investigation process is still ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

The Office for the PCC for Cleveland said no date has been set for the misconduct hearing and it is a decision for the legally qualified chair.

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