Misconduct hearing for senior police officers will not conclude until summer

A misconduct hearing featuring serious allegations against three senior police officers is not expected to conclude until “later in the summer”. Gwent Police chief superintendent Mark Warrender is alleged to have committed gross misconduct by “inappropriate touching” while he and two senior colleagues are accused of “failing to challenge and report” alleged improper behaviour.

Warrender and colleagues chief superintendent Marc Budden, who has held the role of acting assistant chief constable, and chief inspector Paul Staniforth face allegations of gross misconduct which they each deny.

They are facing a misconduct hearing at the headquarters of Avon and Somerset Police in Portishead, Bristol. The hearing began earlier this month but is being held behind closed doors and in private with members of the public and press banned from attending.

The only record of the hearing available to the media and public will be a brief summary posted afterwards which, according to a statement temporarily posted on Gwent Police’s website advising of the applications to hold the hearing in private, “could include the officers’ names, whether any standards were breached, whether any finding of misconduct or gross misconduct was reached and the final outcome imposed”.

No timetable of the hearing has been made available. When asked about when the hearing is expected to finish a spokesman for Gwent Police said: “The hearing started in line with the date listed on the notice of hearing and is ongoing in line with the planned schedule. The availability of the legal representatives in this complex case means that we do not expect the hearing to conclude until later this summer. The timetabling of the hearing lies with the legally-qualified chair, whose outcome must be published up to five working days of the hearing finishing.”

Budden, who was listed under the online notice by the rank of chief superintendent, along with Warrender – who is also of that rank – have both been suspended on full pay since the summer of 2019 and it’s estimated they have received a combined gross total of at least £500,000 during this time. It is unknown whether Staniforth has been suspended.

In total Gwent Police “alleges breaches of the standards of professional behaviour in nine categories”. All three men face an allegation they participated in an “inappropriate conversation with a more junior member of police staff at a police social event” which is said to be “in breach of the standards of professional behaviour relating to equality and diversity; and/or authority, respect, and courtesy; and/or discreditable conduct”.

All three are also accused of “failing to challenge and report the improper behaviour of the others who were engaging in the conversation set out above” while Warrender alone faces a claim of “inappropriate touching”. Budden is accused of “failing to challenge or report the conduct of chief superintendent Warrender” in regard to the alleged inappropriate touching and also of “failing to disclose relevant evidence and/or a conflict of interest” in relation to the same matter. Budden is also accused of “attempting to improperly influence the misconduct and criminal investigation” into the inappropriate touching claim and further of “inappropriately disclosing information in relation to the misconduct and criminal investigation into [the inappropriate touching allegation] to the victim”. It is also alleged that Budden provided “various dishonest accounts about his conduct” while he is also accused of “engaging in inappropriate behaviour whilst on duty”.

Avon and Somerset Police carried out an independent investigation into the allegations of a criminal offence made against both Budden and Warrender. Following an investigation, which was directed by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), a file was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration in 2020.

However in March 2021 the CPS said they would not be pressing charges. A CPS spokesman said: “Following a referral of evidence by the IOPC regarding the alleged conduct on two senior police officers the CPS has decided that our legal test is not met to charge them with any offence. We considered the offence of sexual assault against one officer and misconduct in public office and the improper exercise of police powers against the second officer.”

No members of the public or media will be allowed to attend the hearing only a notice of any outcome will be published. WalesOnline and our legal counsel and the BBC submitted a detailed application for the hearing to be heard in public. This was refused and it was ruled instead the matter would be dealt with in private with no members of the press or public allowed.

About Paul Ponting 55 Articles
Active campaigner and part-time journalist targetting Police Corruption and Misconduct

1 Comment

  1. Whilst it is obvious, according to these facts, these allegations are very serious it is so far being treated in a manner that smacks of police protection of its unique ability to control it’s own destiny. The original complaint was not treated seriously or this whole saga would not have escalated to where it now sits. Unfortunately we the public now expect an outcome to this case that will protect the police and given an opportunity to minimise the actions of those officers it will also have enabled those officers to have a level of protection far in excess of UK citizens. Another story to add to the appalling record of uk police in how it protects abused women, especially sexual.

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