Judgement due today over decision to sack ex-South Yorkshire Police chief constable

David Crompton
David Crompton
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South Yorkshire's former Chief Constable, David Crompton, is to learn today if the decision to sack him was lawful.

Lawyers for David Crompton claim there was no 'fair or reasonable basis' for forcing him out of office in the wake of the inquests into the deaths of 96 football fans in the Hillsborough disaster.

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, suspended and then ordered Mr Crompton to resign, over a statement he made in the wake of the inquests.

A jury concluded that police conduct contributed to or caused the deaths of the football fans in the stadium disaster in 1989 and the families of those who died complained that a line of questioning by South Yorkshire Police during the inquests was designed to try and blame the fans.

After the inquests, Mr Crompton appeared to justify the questioning of the fans' conduct and Dr Billings then called for the police chief to leave his post, claiming he had led a force that put its own reputation first before considering victims.

Dr Billings said the statement showed Mr Crompton did not 'grasp the gravity of the situation' and that it was 'insensitive and damaged both the force and the Chief Constable himself'.

But Mr Crompton challenged the decision and took his case to judicial review in the High Court.

Hugh Davies QC, representing Mr Crompton, who had intended to retire in November 2016 after 30 years' service, stressed he was not involved in his force's underlying failures at Hillsborough 27 years earlier or its response to the disaster.

Nor was he implicated in any of the jury's adverse findings.

As chief constable in 2012, he made a public apology on behalf of the force following the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which laid bare a police cover-up after the disaster.

Asking the High Court to quash the decision to sack Mr Crompton, his barrister said: "The claimant submits that the defendant had no fair or reasonable basis for taking the draconian step of forcing him out of office, and that the decision was unlawful."

Jonathan Swift QC, for the Police and Crime Commissioner, said although the decision was plainly controversial, the assessment fell squarely within the discretion and responsibility available to the PCC as the person with the electoral mandate to hold the chief constable to account for his actions.