Leicestershire police commissioner Rupert Matthews admits £56,000 payout to disbanded committee

Leicestershire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) paid out £56,000 in compensation after members of his ethics committee claimed they had been dismissed unfairly. Conservative PCC Rupert Matthews decided to disband the seven-strong ethics, integrity and complaints committee and replace them with a new ethics and transparency panel.

The members of the group then filed a claim for unfair dismissal and Mr Matthews paid each of them £8,000 in a settlement that did not include an admission of liability. His Labour predecessor, Lord Willy Bach, criticised the dismissal as ‘outrageous’, claiming Mr Matthews sacked them because “he didn’t like their questions and criticism”.

But Mr Matthews has said he felt the previous committee was ‘not focused enough’ and he decided to replace them with a new panel that was more in line with his police and crime plan. He claimed that he invited all seven former members to put their names forward to sit on the new group.

He said: “I recognise that they felt aggrieved by the dissolution of the committee on which they sat, but find it very disappointing that as former members of a Committee focused on ethics and integrity, they felt it appropriate to seek financial recompense from the public purse. The Committee met four times a year at most and obviously I did not believe the voluntary committee had any employment status.

“It is of course regrettable that this situation arose and while I would have preferred matters to have been settled without financial recourse, I saw no point in prolonging things any further. Therefore, to curtail the financial cost of taking this matter to a tribunal which would have hinged on a legal technicality, it was felt that a financial settlement for each member was the most economically expedient option.

“I would like to make it absolutely clear that my decision to wind-up the former Committee had nothing to do with political allegiances, or challenge to my approach.

“It is worth noting that I previously stated my thanks to the chair and other members of the Ethics, Integrity and Complaints Committee for their work and commitment during my predecessors’ terms of office. I am also disappointed that no former members applied to join my newly constituted Ethics and Transparency Panel, which I invited them to do.

“My new Panel has agreed stronger, more targeted and incisive Terms of Reference to deliver detailed and meaningful scrutiny of the force on behalf of all the communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. This I believe will help me drive up trust and confidence in the police, which has been deteriorating nationally in recent years.

“While of course the financial impact of this will be included in the Annual Statement of Accounts, for complete transparency I can confirm that each member of the Committee received £8,000.”

Lord Bach said: “I am pleased that the outrageous dismissal of the seven independent members of the Ethics, Integrity and Complaints Committee by Rupert Matthews, my successor as Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire, has now been exposed in the national media. It was a shocking thing for Matthews to do.

leicestershire police commissioner rupert matthews admits £56,000 payout to disbanded committee

Lord Willy Bach Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s Police and Crime Commissioner

“The Committee was set up by my Conservative predecessor, the former senior ranking RAF officer Sir Clive Loader. I had no problem supporting the continuation of their work which helped the Chief Constable and myself to understand sensitive and occasionally controversial issues affecting the delivery of policing in Leicestershire.

“For the current Commissioner to sack the Committee simply because he didn’t like their questions and criticism was shameful. On behalf of all who live and work in Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland, I want to thank the seven members of the Committee for their service over the years and for their commitment to promoting high ethical standards in the policing of our diverse communities.

“They have been treated appallingly. Their service deserved better.”

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