Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Chief Constable has case to answer for inaccurate account about mobile phone damage

An Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation has found that Cleveland Chief Constable Mike Veale has a case to answer for alleged misconduct for providing and maintaining an inaccurate account of how damage to his work mobile phone was caused while heading up Wiltshire Police.

We found that Mr Veale had a case to answer in respect of his explanation to colleagues that the phone had been dropped in a golf club car park and inadvertently run over by a vehicle. Mr Veale subsequently explained to our investigators that the damage was in fact caused when he swung a club at his golf bag in frustration after playing a poor shot.

We began an investigation in January this year after anonymous allegations were received that Chief Constable Veale deliberately damaged his mobile phone to hide contact with various parties over Wiltshire Police’s investigation into Sir Edward Heath (Operation Conifer).

The evidence supports that the damage occurred on Saturday 23 September 2017 during a regular round of golf with friends, which was interspersed with Mr Veale taking a number of phone calls concerning media interest in Operation Conifer. Our investigation found no evidence that the irreparable damage to the phone had been caused deliberately or with the motive to conceal any information, and Mr Veale was considered to have no case to answer for discreditable conduct.

At the conclusion of the investigation, our report was sent to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Cleveland, where Mr Veale has been chief officer since March 2018. It has been agreed that Chief Constable Veale will be subject to a management action plan put in place by PCC Barry Coppinger, including an ongoing programme of professional development.

IOPC director Catrin Evans, who oversaw the investigation, said: “The evidence gathered points to Chief Constable Veale damaging his mobile phone entirely by accident. He then arranged for all data from the damaged phone to be retrieved, and we found no evidence to suggest he was motivated to conceal information. Mr Veale volunteered to our investigators that he was embarrassed by his behaviour over a momentary loss of self-control on the golf course, at a time of personal and professional stress.

“However, chief constables are expected to promote ethical values, lead by personal example and act as ambassadors for the standards of professional behaviour. That Mr Veale chose to give a different account to the truth, both verbally and in writing on several occasions and for some time, in our view amounted to a case to answer for misconduct relating to honesty and integrity.”

The allegations were contained in a referral to the IOPC from Wiltshire’s PCC. A second part of the referral, concerning allegations Mr Veale had disclosed confidential information relating to the same investigation, was returned to the PCC in January to deal with in any manner deemed appropriate.

A summary of our conclusions and rationale is available here.

Our investigation report is available here.


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