Chief constable cleared of misconduct over handling of Stanbridge inquiry

10:12am Tuesday 6th May 2014

Hampshire top police officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing in an inquiry surrounding a school hit by sex abuse claims.

Andy Marsh, the chief constable of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, was under investigation by another force amid complaints about police inquiries surrounding Stanbridge Earls in Romsey.

But the senior investigating officer on the case has notified Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Hayes that there are no grounds to justify the serving of misconduct notices upon Mr Marsh.

The inquiry, which was carried out by Essex Police on behalf of Mr Hayes, was launched last August amid breach of confidentiality and contempt of court claims.

It is understood to be the first time that a UK PCC has ordered a probe of their own chief constable.

As the Daily Echo revealed exclusively last month, Mr Marsh was investigated over nine complaints.

These included: n A failure to undertake a thorough investigation into the sexual abuse of vulnerable pupils.

n As a result, a failure to protect a vulnerable child from harm.

n Giving “instructions” to officers that were designed to “mislead” parents of alleged victims.

n Leaking details of alleged victims.

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

Mr Marsh was also 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 claims that he leaked details of a criminal investigation and details of alleged rape victims to Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, as well as to Hampshire County Council.

It comes as prosecutors ruled that there is “insufficient evidence” to bring charges against claims of sexual abuse of pupils through Operation Flamborough, as reported in Saturday’s Daily Echo.

The news that no further action will be taken against Mr Marsh was revealed to Mr Hayes by Steve Kavanagh, chief constable of Essex Police, and senior investigation officer in Operation Oregon – the name given to Mr Marsh’s investigation.

He said there are presently no grounds to justify the service of misconduct notices upon Mr Marsh following a further review of the material obtained in the operation.

Mr Marsh was appointed chief constable of Hampshire police in January 2013 when he took over from Alex Marshal, who left to become head of the College of Policing.

Mr Marsh joined Hampshire Constabulary as deputy chief constable in July 2010 after starting with Avon and Somerset Police.

He was appointed assistant chief constable of Wiltshire Police in 2007.

Mr Hayes said: “Although Essex Police have not yet concluded their investigation into Operation Oregon, I consider this matter of sufficient interest to inform the public on Chief Constable Kavanagh’s assessment to date. This should provide reassurance to the public that Chief Constable Andy Marsh has conducted himself appropriately and his leadership of Hampshire Constabulary is not in question.

“Through this statement, I would like to reiterate my absolute confidence in the chief constable and in Hampshire Constabulary.

“I will continue to keep residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight informed as this matter progresses to a conclusion.”

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