Decision to sack top Hartlepool cop over misconduct overturned

Lee Rukin
Lee Rukin

A police force's decision to dismiss a senior officer accused of lying to colleagues about how he sustained serious facial injuries after he was beaten up has been overturned.

Temporary Chief Inspector Lee Rukin, who lived on Hartlepool's Bishop Cuthbert Estate, appeared before a Cleveland Police misconduct hearing last year, and was dismissed without notice.

It was claimed he had told several senior colleagues how he sustained serious facial injuries – including a fractured eye socket and cheekbones as well as several damaged teeth – during a cycling accident - but that the firearms officer had been attacked by a love rival, who knocked him unconscious and left him lying in the street.

Mr Rukin was hauled before a panel accused of breaching Cleveland Police’s guidelines of honesty and integrity, and discreditable conduct. He did not contest the hearing and was dismissed with immediate effect.

But on April 27, a Police Appeals Tribunal ( PAT ) heard an appeal by Mr Rukin against the findings of the Misconduct Panel.

In its findings the PAT said: "The PAT upheld the Panel’s finding in respect of the first matter faced by Mr Rukin, namely that he had breached the Code in respect of Honesty and Integrity. The PAT further determined that such breach amounted to misconduct and not as the Panel had found, gross misconduct.

"In relation to the second matter faced by Mr Rukin, namely that he had breached the Code in respect of discreditable conduct, the PAT determined that the decision of the Panel should be quashed.

"The PAT further determined that the sanction of dismissal imposed by the Panel was unreasonable and substituted it for the sanction of a 'final written warning'."

A Cleveland Police spokesperson said: "The Police Appeals Tribunal has overturned a decision to dismiss former Temporary Chief Inspector Lee Rukin in favour of the sanction of a final written warning for breaching honesty and integrity.

“We maintain that all police officers should act with honesty and integrity at all times and uphold the highest standards of professional behaviour, which rightly the public expects from the police service. We will carefully assess the judgement made by the Police Appeals Tribunal and consider options available to us."

Mr Rukin is not currently at work and it is not yet known whether he will return to his post.