Misconduct proceedings dropped against officer accused of lying to Grainger inquiry

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has apologised “unreservedly” for errors made during a misconduct investigation into retired former assistant chief constable Steven Heywood after proceedings against him were suddenly dropped.

Jun 3, 2020
By Tony Thompson

The hearing had been called to determine whether or not Mr Heywood had misled a public inquiry into the fatal shooting of Anthony Grainger by a GMP firearms officer, known as Q9, in March 2012.

The 36-year-old was shot dead as he sat behind the wheel of a stolen Audi. While giving evidence at Liverpool Crown Court in 2017, Q9 said that he believed that Mr Grainger “had reached down as if to grab a firearm”, although no weapons were found in the vehicle.

The armed operation had been authorised by Mr Heywood but it later emerged that he had altered his firearms log to “retrospectively justify” his decision in the aftermath of the shooting. GMP has since admitted that there were “serious deficiencies” in the planning and conduct of the operation.

Mr Heywood was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) reviewed his evidence and found he may have committed a criminal offence, but in November 2018 the CPS decided not to charge him.

On Monday (June 1) a misconduct panel convened over videolink to hear allegations that Mr Heywood had breached force standards of honesty and integrity when giving evidence at the inquiry, but the charges were dismissed on Tuesday at GMP’s own request on the basis of no evidence offered.

Deputy Chief Constable Ian Pilling said: “Following submissions made at the gross misconduct hearing in relation to retired ACC Heywood on June 1, the force has made the decision not to pursue these proceedings further and invited the panel to dismiss the charges against Mr Heywood.

“This misconduct case involved consideration of some complex issues relating to certain information and intelligence which, for legal reasons, could not be provided to Mr Heywood and could not be made public or indeed even shared with the panel dealing with the misconduct hearing.

“Evidence relating to those things was heard in private at the Anthony Grainger Inquiry, and as such was redacted from the public records of that inquiry. The law concerning what can be disclosed in a public inquiry is different from that in misconduct proceedings.

“Following submissions made on Monday, the force has accepted that some of these matters could not be overcome and it would be unfair to pursue the case against the retired officer.

“These are complex issues and the available options were often constrained by the law. Decisions have been made based on professional advice and in the best interests of reaching the most appropriate outcome – however, in this case this hasn’t been possible, which I very much regret.”

Chair of the panel Nahied Asjad criticised GMP for “delays and procedural errors” and said the handling of the misconduct hearing could undermine public confidence in the force.

There has been “a fundamental disregard” for everyone involved in the proceedings, including Mr Grainger’s family, Mr Heywood and the public, she said.

Mr Heywood’s lawyer accused GMP of an ‘omnishambles’ over the delays and a last-minute bid to adjourn the proceedings.

Mr Pilling added: “The chair has been clear that the panel are of the view that GMP did not deal with some key elements of this matter in an appropriate way. Whilst we need to examine the comments more fully, we absolutely accept that mistakes have been made and this matter should have been handled much more effectively.

“We apologise unreservedly for the errors which were made, in particular to the family and partner of Anthony Grainger and to all other involved parties.”

IOPC Director of Major Investigations Steve Noonan said: “We are disappointed that, two years after our investigation concluded, GMP has decided to offer no evidence in this matter.

“Anthony Grainger’s family, and the wider public, deserved to hear the evidence and Mr Heywood account for his actions. We acted quickly and decisively to examine Mr Heywood’s conduct once it was brought into question during the Anthony Grainger Public Inquiry in 2017.

In May 2018, after our seven-month investigation, we concluded he should face a public hearing to answer allegations that the evidence he provided to the Inquiry may have breached police professional standards relating to honesty and integrity and performance of duties. GMP agreed with our findings.

“Today’s developments mean that there can be no ruling from the police panel as to whether or not Mr Heywood committed gross misconduct to a degree that would have justified dismissal, were he still serving.

“Three new investigations stemming from evidence given at the Anthony Grainger Public Inquiry, which reported its findings in July 2019, began earlier this year, and we will continue to work hard to ensure those allegations are thoroughly examined, that actions are accountable and lessons learned.”

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