Line of Duty? - MLP Law

Line of Duty?

“When did we stop caring about honesty and integrity” asked Superintendent Hastings in BBC’s popular drama, Line of Duty. A recent case, focusing on whether or not an employer (in this case the Chief Constable) could be held liable for potential discriminatory actions by an investigatory panel, has highlighted that organised criminal gangs, corrupt police […]

Line of Duty?

“When did we stop caring about honesty and integrity” asked Superintendent Hastings in BBC’s popular drama, Line of Duty.

A recent case, focusing on whether or not an employer (in this case the Chief Constable) could be held liable for potential discriminatory actions by an investigatory panel, has highlighted that organised criminal gangs, corrupt police officers and missing evidence aren’t just the stuff of drama.

Facts

Detective Sergeant Nicholas Eckland joined the police in 1998.  In 2018, whilst investigating organised crime networks, he gave evidence at Bristol Crown Court as Senior Investigating Officer.  His evidence concerned the death in prison of a defendant in a drug conspiracy, know as Mr W.  DS Eckland said he’d identified the deceased, but this wasn’t accurate as he hadn’t visited the mortuary.

The Chief Constable appointed a panel to carry out a detailed investigation.  DS Eckland said he’d feared for his life, blaming death threats and the existence of a corrupt colleague.  He claimed this could be backed up by his notebooks but these went missing during the investigation. The panel held that DS Eckland’s inaccurate evidence to the Crown Court amounted to Discreditable Conduct “in that such conduct has a tendency to undermine public confidence in the integrity of evidence given by police officers in legal proceedings”.

Legal Decision

He was therefore dismissed for gross misconduct and brought a claim for disability discrimination against the Chief Constable, claiming that he was disabled by “depression and episodic paroxysmal anxiety”, in terms of the Equality Act 2010.  On a preliminary legal point, the Court, agreeing with Mr Eckland’s position, held that the Chief Constable could be held liable for any discrimination committed by the panel that investigated him.

Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset Constabulary v Eckland 2021

If you have any questions or concerns about the above please get in touch with the MLP Law Employment team at employment@mlplaw.co.uk or 0161 926 9969. Please also keep an eye out on our Twitter feed @HRHeroUK and for our regular blogs on all things Employment Law and HR.

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