Cleveland Police Commissioner sex inquiry could last three years

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner, who is facing an “historic” sexual offence allegation, says he will continue in his role - despite warning the matter could take three years to resolve.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 11:59 am
Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner.

In a statement issued through a solicitor, Mr Turner has again denied any wrongdoing and says he has no information about the allegation, the person who made them, the place or the circumstance.

His statement says: “On November 3 the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IoPC) notified me, of a decision to commence a managed investigation into an allegation made against me of a ‘historic sexual offence’ which dates between 30 and 40 years, to the 1980s.

“At present I have been given no further information regarding the allegation, the person, the place or the circumstance.”

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He added: “I feel uncomfortable that the details of this allegation have been placed in the public domain before an actual investigation has begun. The normal process in this circumstance would be to protect all parties who may or may not be involved."

Mr Turner says it is his belief that people have deliberately chosen to leak this “highly confidential and damaging allegation purely for political gain” and he has submitted a formal complaint to the monitoring officer to this effect.

He added: “My resignation is not the right thing to do in this instance.

“As a public figure, I accept the challenge this brings, but my family’s mental wellbeing should not have to be tested in this way.

"I do fully believe in English justice, and am committed to supporting the investigation and the process in its entirety, and am confident the investigation will go on to prove beyond doubt, that I am innocent, as I have not committed any such offence.

“I have been advised that the investigation can take many months and potentially years, and I should not anticipate it being concluded until well into 2024.

"I was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner in May 2021, committing myself to a statutory and strategic responsibility for policing and community safety on behalf of the 560,000 residents.

"It is my intent to continue in my role, and deliver what I was elected to do whilst the investigation takes place.”

The statement goes on to say: “I have appointed Watson Woodhouse Solicitors to represent me. Whilst I have a public office, I would like to assure residents the financial cost of defending myself will be my own, not supported in time, money or resources by the public purse.

In September, Mr Turner faced down calls to resign over a police caution he accepted in the 1990s while working at a supermarket.

Labour MP for Middlesbrough Andy McDonald used Parliamentary privilege to claim Mr Turner was “sacked” by a former employer for “systematic theft”.

Mr McDonald said Mr Turner’s position was untenable and called for his immediate resignation.

Mr Turner described the caution as a “minor incident” after making a “stupid error” and asked for the public’s support to get on with the role.

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