Police chief faces probe over 'whitewash'

Chief Constable Andy Marsh

Chief Constable Andy Marsh

First published in News
Last updated

The chief constable of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, Andy Marsh, is under investigation after it was claimed that he ordered a whitewash over the failure of police inquiries into sex abuse allegations at a special school near Romsey.

He is also accused of breaching confidentiality and contempt of court in connection with the same inquiry.

The complaints centre on the Hampshire force’s investigation into allegations that a girl was raped and other pupils were sexually abused at Stanbridge Earls School, which closed last year.

Essex Police are undertaking an investigation – Operation Oregon – on behalf of Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Simon Hayes.

Mr Marsh is the subject of nine complaints, which include: l A failure to undertake a thorough investigation into the sexual abuse of vulnerable pupils; l As a result, a failure to protect a vulnerable child from harm; l Giving “instructions” to officers that were designed to “mislead” parents of alleged victims; l Leaking details of alleged victims.

Some of these relate to Operation Flamborough, an inquiry set up by Hampshire police after claims Stanbridge Earls failed to properly protect a vulnerable child who claimed to have been raped by fellow pupils.

Mr Marsh is being investigated over claims that he told his boss, Mr Hayes, that the operation was “established to protect Hampshire Constabulary’s reputation”.

He is also facing allegations that he leaked details of a criminal investigation and of alleged rape victims to Romsey MP, Caroline Nokes and Hampshire County Council.

There is no suggestion that the authority or Mrs Nokes are under investigation.

The probe also focuses on whether officers from Hampshire police were instructed to “mislead” parents of alleged victims into thinking Operation Flamborough was an investigation into the sexual abuse of children.

As previously reported, a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal found last year that the £39,000-a-year school had discriminated against a girl and that staff members failed to tell the youngster’s parents that she had complained of pain in an intimate part of her body.

The tribunal found that a vulnerable youngster had suffered “appalling abuse” at the hands of another student, and the panel labelled the school “unsystematic, unprofessional, ad hoc and completely inadequate” when it came to protecting the youngster by the panel.

Part of Operation Flamborough was to involve an internal inquiry into whether police involved in previous investigations into sex abuse claims at the school should be disciplined.

Mr Marsh was appointed in January last year to take over as chief constable from Alex Marshall – the same time that details first came to light of allegations that a vulnerable teenager had been groomed and sexually abused at Stanbridge Earls.

Mr Marsh had joined Hampshire Constabulary as deputy chief constable in July, 2010.

Mrs Nokes has said that she does not intend to comment on the issue.

A Hampshire County Council spokesman said: “We can confirm that we are aware of Operation Oregon, but are not able to provide any further comments, which should be sought from Essex Constabulary who are undertaking the investigation.”

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