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Senior officer accused of accessing staff info cleared of misconduct

The misconduct panel had earlier thrown out DAC Matt Horne's application to stay proceedings on the basis that he had initially been treated as a witness in the case.

A deputy assistant commissioner at the Met accused of accessing police information in a bid to help his defence in a bullying investigation has been cleared of misconduct.

While working as deputy chief constable of Essex Police, deputy assistant commissioner Matthew Horne threw a stress ball at a colleague, pushed them against a desk and swore at another officer.

He was found to have breached force standards on three occasions between 2015 and 2016 but kept his job, going on to assume his role with the Met.

The recent proceedings centred around two allegations: firstly, that the senior officer asked for and accessed documents about superintendent Glenn Maleary, who he was found to have sworn at, shortly before a disciplinary hearing into the bullying was held in 2018.

Secondly, that he had failed to “promptly and appropriately” report, challenge or take action against the now-barred David Clark, who passed him the information while working for the City of London Police (CoLP).

The senior officer admitted requesting and receiving the information but claimed he had a proper purpose in doing so.

On Friday the panel ruled that his actions did not constitute a breach of professional standards.

During cross-examination on Thursday, DAC Horne said he believed he could properly request and receive the information following legal advice and that any information requested would have been held with CoLP's PSD.

Adrian Keeling KC, for the Met, asked him: “You did not have a proper policing purpose to investigate your own misconduct, did you?”

DAC Horne said: “I genuinely believed the process in 2018, when it came to accessing the information on the basis of advice, that that information would be relevant.

“It was not for my benefit outwith that process. It was not for some ulterior motive. It was for the hearing.”

The barrister later asked: “You thought all the information David Clark had was already with professional standards?”

Mr Horne said: “Yes. It would have been accessible to an inquiry or, if not directly with professional standards, through a reasonable line of inquiry with them.”

The hearing was told Mr Clark accessed the documents via his work email and that “at some stage” the protective markings on them were removed.

Mr Clark then emailed them from his work address to his personal one before sending them to himself on WhatsApp and forwarding the WhatsApp message to Mr Horne.

Giving the panel’s reasoning for dismissing the claims against the officer, chairwoman Rachel Crasnow KC said it had “accepted DAC Horne’s evidence that he was advised to get the documents.

“(His actions were) the result of legal advice and desire for a fair hearing. We do not think the fact of seniority changes the position.”

But Ms Crasnow said the panel’s ruling does not mean senior officers have a right to “roam through” information about colleagues.

DAC Horne denied breaching force standards for integrity, discreditable conduct, challenging or reporting improper conduct and confidentiality before his cross-examination began.

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