Case against former Cleveland Police chief constable settled

Sean Price
Sean Price

THE case between a former chief constable who was being sued for £500,000 by Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner has been settled.

Cleveland Police had been trying to claw back salary and bonuses paid to Sean Price, who became the first police chief to be sacked in 35 years when he was dismissed for gross misconduct in October 2012.

Mr Price was sacked for lying about his role in the recruitment of the former police authority chairman’s daughter.

Barry Coppinger, Cleveland’s Police and crime Commissioner who launched the case against Mr Price said: “I can confirm that this matter has been settled and the case has been discontinued.

“In reaching this decision I took into account the chances of winning the case.

“I also considered the potential six figure cost implications to the force if we were to go to court and lose or go to court and win but be unable to recover our costs.

“I will not shy away from legal action where I believe it is in the best interests of Cleveland Police, but the stark reality is that any money spent on litigation, means less money for front-line policing.

“The force has had to manage the extremely difficult task of losing 350 policing posts and £37m from the budget since 2011 and there is every possibility of further budget cuts. I have concluded that, in this case, the best course of action is to agree to settle this matter and for the force to move on.”

Disgraced former officer Mr Price had pledged to fight the civil claim, but he said that spiralling legal costs had forced him to settle it.

He did not disclose how much the settlement is worth.

Mr Price said: “This was a difficult decision for me as I had a strong case that the payments were lawful and should not be repaid 10 years later.

“However, the case has cost me several thousand pounds already and the public a great deal more. The only people benefiting have been lawyers.

“I made the decision that the best course of action was to settle now to prevent the costs escalating further.

“Notwithstanding our differences, I would like to pass my best to all at Cleveland Police in dealing with the financial challenges facing the force in the future.”

Mr Coppinger was suing Mr Price for payments he received as part of a ‘golden handcuffs’ deal over several years to keep him in post in the years before the scandal broke.

The force claimed Mr Price should not have received this money.

Following a preliminary court hearing last October, Mr Price said the move was vindictive and that Mr Coppinger had been party to agreeing the payments when he was a member of Cleveland Police Authority.

He also said the case was a waste of public money.

Mr Price, who represented himself in court, claimed at the time that the cost to the public so far in legal fees was £50,000.