Police commissioner reveals police caution was for handling stolen goods
Under pressure Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner says a past police caution he received was for handling £15 worth of stolen goods.
Mr Turner, who is also facing an allegation of committing an historic sexual assault, which he denies,previously referred to an “event” which occurred while he was a manager at a former Safeway store in Norton, near Stockton.
Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, who has called on Mr Turner to step down saying he is not a fit person for the role, had used Parliamentary privilege to accuse the PCC of theft when he worked for the now defunct supermarket chain.
In an interview with BBC Radio Tees, Conservative Mr Turner said: “I resigned from the position after receiving a police caution for holding stolen goods to the value of £15 and it was 22 years ago.”
Police watchdog the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) is considering a referral made over the matter and has also separately begun a “managed investigation” into an alleged sex assault dating back to the 1980s.
This will be carried out by an external police force, and overseen by the IOPC.
Mr Turner denied that the investigation he is facing was a “huge distraction” for Cleveland Police and said he had a fantastic team working around him.
He also said there was no formal process of suspension for the PCC and he would not be stepping away as had a job to do for the people of Cleveland.
Mr Turner said: “I will bend over backwards to help this investigation, but we also have to protect that principle in law that you are innocent until proven guilty and you can’t allow an allegation to overturn the votes of 74,000 people.
“I am going to do the job the people of Cleveland elected me to do.”
But he was labelled a “hypocrite” by the PCC for his previous handling of the case of former Labour MP Claudia Webbe, who was convicted of threatening a woman with an acid attack.
She was expelled from the party after being sentenced.
Mr Turner, who was elected in May with a near 34,000 majority, claimed that were he to resign, the cost of a by-election to elect a new police commissioner would be about £1m to the public purse.
He also said he was “absolutely confident” in the support of political colleagues and the Cleveland public.
On Tuesday Mr Turner issued a statement via his solicitors in which he said Labour opponents were conducting an “orchestrated campaign” against him.
He said the “highly confidential and damaging” allegation he had committed a sex attack had been deliberately leaked to the media.
Mr Turner said he was confident any investigation would prove beyond doubt he was innocent and said he had been told it may not conclude until 2024 – potentially covering the length of his remaining term as PCC.