Bolt, Regina (on the Application of) v Merseyside Police and Another: Admn 16 Nov 2007

A disciplinary panel had found the claimant police officer in breach of the relevant code of conduct. It decided that he should be dismissed. On a review, an independent Chief Constable upheld the finding of misconduct; but he purported to set aside the sanction of dismissal and to substitute a fine of 13 days’ pay. The Chief Constable of the Merseyside Police declined to accept that substituted penalty and maintained the dismissal directed by the panel. That was challenged by the claimant police officer. It was argued on his behalf that, under the applicable Regulations, the Chief Constable of Merseyside had no power himself to reject the decision of the independent Chief Constable.
Held: The Chief Constable had no such power. It was further argued that, unless and until the decision of the independent Chief Constable was first quashed, the Chief Constable of Merseyside had been bound to follow it and could not arrogate to himself a view that the decision was invalid: ‘a finding that only the court could make’, as it was argued.
The decision of the independent Chief Constable on sanction had been unlawful: it was not one to which he could properly have come and it could not be sustained in law. As to the point raised about the entitlement of the Chief Constable of Merseyside to act as he did, Underhill J, after considering Lord Irvine’s speech in Boddington, said: ‘Whether or not it might have been better for the defendant to seek judicial review of the [independent Chief Constable’s] decision I can see no real prejudice to any party in my considering its lawfulness in the present proceedings.’
. . And ‘Whether those reasons amount in law to a finding of irrationality or a finding that [the independent Chief Constable] misdirected himself as to the limit of his powers under the review provisions, I am satisfied that his conclusion cannot be sustained in law. In my judgment the decision of the panel should not have been overturned on a review.
Having reached that point, in my view it follows that I ought not to grant the relief sought. If the Defendant had followed the arguably more formally correct course of seeking a judicial review of [the independent Chief Constable’s] decision that decision would have been quashed, with the result that the decision of the panel stood (subject to appeal). If I refuse relief in the circumstances which have in fact occurred substantially the same result will be achieved.’
Underhill J
[2007] EWHC 2607 (Admin)
Cited by:
CitedMackaill and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Independent Police Complaints Commission Admn 6-Oct-2014
The three claimants were police officers. They met a senior MP at Sutton Coldfield. They emerged from the meeting and were said to have made misleading statements as to the content of the meeting. The IPCC referred the matters back to local forces . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 05 February 2021; Ref: scu.261804