A former head of the North Yorkshire Police Federation has launched a withering attack on the appointment of the police commissioner’s chief officer, saying it would take the force “back to the dark days”.
Mike Stubbs, who was chair of North Yorkshire Police Federation from 2014 to 2017, questioned commissioner Julia Mulligan’s decision to hand the force’s former solicitor Simon Dennis the £90,000-a-year job as the commissioner’s chief executive and monitoring officer.
His comments come just weeks after Mrs Mulligan told the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel that Mr Dennis had been the outstanding candidate to apply for the role “by some way”.
The panel approved Mrs Mulligan’s appointment after Mr Dennis told them he had extensive experience of challenging senior figures.
Mr Stubbs said:
“It riled me that he tried to present himself as a hero of challenging senior officers. He certainly didn’t do that when he was the force solicitor.
“North Yorkshire is known by the Federation’s solicitors as one of the worst for trying to deal with legal claims against. They are just utterly obstructive and that was a lot to do with the attitude developed under Simon Dennis.”
Mr Stubbs claimed while Mr Dennis had been the force’s solicitor he had been “a company man”, serving as an enthusiastic advocate of the force’s “abysmal failure to properly administer the 2009 Special Priority Payments scheme”. He added:
“Simon Dennis played a key role in trying to defend the force’s completely indefensible position. It took Judicial Review proceedings by North Yorkshire Police Federation in 2010 to win back over £72,000 in payments for more than 50 officers.”
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Giving an example of his willingness to tackle senior officers, Mr Dennis told the panel he had been closely involved with the departure of Cleveland Police’s chief constable Mike Veale. Mr Stubbs said the chief constable’s situation had been untenable before Mr Dennis acted, and added Mr Dennis had left it to the North Yorkshire Police Authority to oversee the departure of chief constable Grahame Maxwell, who kept his job after admitting gross misconduct. He said:
“I regard Mr Dennis’ appointment as a retrograde step, taking the organisation back to the dark days of Grahame Maxwell and everything the force went through at that time and the approach that it took to errors and issues that it made.”
The Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire was presented with Mr Stubbs’ claims, but did not respond to them directly.
A spokesman for the commissioner’s office said:
“Simon Dennis was selected as the preferred candidate for the position of chief executive and monitoring officer of the Office of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner following an open and transparent recruitment process, which included a partnership stakeholder panel and an independent member on the final interview panel.”
Chairman of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel, Councillor Carl Les declined to comment.