CLEVELAND Police chief Sean Price is under investigation – accused of using his influence to help get someone a job.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an inquiry focusing on the chief constable.
But Chf Cons Price has denied the allegation, which he has called “malicious” and “mischievous”.
He also has the support of Cleveland Police Authority (CPA) and is continuing in his role while the investigation goes on.
He believes the complaint relates to the recruitment process for a junior member of staff in late 2008.
IPCC investigators say the matter came to light during a review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HPIC) “into the manner in which some individuals within the CPA may have conducted some of its business”.
The chairman of the CPA, Councillor Dave McLuckie, stood down from the position earlier this month after he revealed that he had received a letter saying he was part of the criminal investigation that is being led by Warwickshire Police Chief Constable Keith Bristow.
A statement by the IPCC said: “The independent investigation will focus on the allegation that Mr Price used undue influence to have an individual appointed to a position within the police force.”
Chf Cons Price, who has been in his current role since being appointed in 2003, was quick to reply to the allegation, saying: “I completely refute the accusation, which I regard as malicious as I took no part in the recruitment process. I further believe the allegation is mischievous in seeking to cause comparison with recent events in other forces.
“I realise the IPCC need to investigate this matter, and will assist in every way that I can. I want the matter to be cleared up as soon as possible and I am sure that everyone will realise the damage that such an allegation could have on my personal standing and confidence in the force.
“In addition, I am taking legal advice regarding any action I may take in the future against those responsible for initiating and spreading incorrect information that defames my character.”
Peter Race, chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, said his members understand that the IPCC must look into all complaints, but have backed Chf Con Price’s stance on the matter.
He added: “We fully support our chief constable in his clear statement refuting the accusations, which he regards as malicious and mischievous.
“We believe that Sean Price has played a key role in delivering massive improvements in the policing service in Cleveland over the past few years and in working with the authority in preparing for the huge challenges we face in the future.
“We fully support his wish that this matter should be resolved at the earliest opportunity in both his interests and that of the force as a whole.”
Chf Cons Price, who received a Queen’s Police Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2005, was served a notice by the IPCC yesterday to let him know he was being investigated.