The Chief Constable suspended in the wake of the Hillsborough inquests was 'unfairly' dismissed, a police chief has said.
David Crompton lost his job at South Yorkshire Police after the inquests into the deaths of 96 football fans at a football match in Sheffield ruled that police conduct contributed to or caused the disaster.
Concerns about public trust and confidence in the force led to his suspension.
Mr Crompton was criticised for the stance his force's lawyers took during the inquests - mounting a defence that families of the 96 victims felt smeared Liverpool fans.
The day after the inquests concluded Mr Crompton issued a statement insisting he had never tried to defend the failures of his force - simply to put them 'into context'.
He was suspended by South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings and his post has now been taken by Stephen Watson, who moved from Durham Constabulary.
Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Tom Winsor, who is required to give his views on the situation as part of dismissal proceedings, said criticisms of Mr Crompton were 'conspicuously unfair' and he should be reinstated.
In a report seen by Channel 4, Sir Tom said the decision was 'conspicuously unfair, disproportionate and so unreasonable that I cannot understand how the Police and Crime Commissioner has reached this view."
He said he disagreed that Mr Crompton's statement - in which he said he was trying to put the behaviour of his force into 'context' rather than justify it - was an 'error of judgment', as had been suggested at the time.
Dr Billings wrote to Sir Tom to explain the suspension and described Mr Crompton's statement as 'a monumental error of judgement'.
He said it would be seen by some as suggesting that South Yorkshire Police 'would not fully accept the verdicts, but had to go on justifying itself.'
According to Channel 4, Sir Tom said no-one who read Mr Crompton's apology 'could rationally have concluded that (he) was refusing to accept the verdict of the jury or rescinding the full apology already made. He plainly was not."
South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Panel is to meet today to discuss the suspension of Mr Crompton and make a recommendation on what the Police and Crime Commissioner, who has the power to hire and fire, should do.
Dr Billings said today: "I am very disappointed that information has been made available to Channel 4 during the legal process I have to follow.
“I am unable to comment further until the Police and Crime Panel has made its recommendation to me and I have made my decision and communicated it to all parties. Once I reach that point I will publish documents relevant to the process.“