Police chief: I was misled over sex scandals
A former chief constable of the police force embroiled in a series of sex scandals has said that she was misled by colleagues amid allegations that office love affairs were covered up.
Northumbria Police’s ex-chief Sue Sim said she “flipped” when she heard her head of legal revealed details of an alleged affair between two senior police officers, an employment tribunal heard.
But while she initially thought Denise Aubrey was “gossiping”, she later realised this was not the case.
Former legal boss Ms Aubrey, 54, was sacked in 2014 for gross misconduct and is now claiming unfair dismissal. She was alleged to have disclosed ‘protected information’ about ex-chief constable Mike Craik’s alleged affair with his assistant chief constable Carolyn Peacock, and an incident at a barbecue in which Mr Craik was accosted Mrs Peacock’s chief superintendent husband, Jim, and punched.
It was claimed the incident was removed from a police log – but that Ms Aubrey made reference to the “widely circulated” rumours in a meeting.
She denies this and unusually, the retired chief constable who was in charge at the time has given evidence in her support.
At the hearing, Mrs Sim said: “I was told Ms Aubrey had breached the personal confidence of the former chief constable by relating a conversation that was personal to her and to Mr Craik, and that was an absolute breach of confidence, and if you want to know, I flipped.
“It was horrendous. I’m not going to refute that when I was told that, I wanted her sacked.”
But in her written statement to the tribunal, Mrs Sim said she had now seen all the evidence against Ms Aubrey and concluded: “I do not believe what the claimant allegedly said came close to what I was being told, or to breaching confidentiality.”
The former head of legal services for Northumbria Police has accused the force of “overt sexism” and says she was “physically afraid” of one officer.
The tribunal being held in North Shields has heard claims that Northumbria Police was a “boys’ club” where sexual discrimination was rife.
The force “ruined my life, my mental health and my career,” said Ms Aubrey.
She claims she was referred to as ‘sex on legs’ and ‘sex on a stick’ by her superiors – and that a male chief inspector once told her she had ‘been appointed as the ‘token woman’.’
She described how on one occasion, after giving a presentation, she was told that ‘everyone was transfixed as they could see my nipples through my blouse.’
Northumbria Police deny any claims of ‘institutionalised sexism’, and that Ms Aubrey was unfairly dismissed. The case continues