Police officer who passed information about Wigan man to ex-partner committed gross misconduct
Instead DI Johnston was given a final written warning as four days of proceedings wrapped up on Thursday afternoon.
The panel was considering evidence around DI Johnston passing information about Kieran Jones, from Bamfurlong, onto Hayley Mason, who had previously been in relationships with both men.
DI Johnston rang his wife at work on August 17 2018 while she was looking at the records related to a burglary at Mr Jones’ address.
In delivering the three-person panel’s findings, Tribunal Judge Paul Forster said the information Ms Mason disclosed about Mr Jones in an email on August 24 was supplied to her by DI Johnston.
The panel decided Ms Mason did not, as she had claimed, receive the information about Mr Jones from an employee at Wigan social services.
The only information the town hall employees had, the panel concluded, was that written about Mr Jones on the police referral form and that did not include some of the details Ms Mason had.
The panel was clear that Chloe Charnock, who gave evidence to the hearing about her phone call with Ms Mason on Monday August 22, had not given her the information.
The judge said there were breaches in the standards of professional behaviour expected from serving police officers.
James Berry, representing the appropriate authority, said the information being passed on had a major effect on Mr Jones, especially as he and Ms Mason were in a family court dispute at the time over a young person referred to in the hearing as Child One.
Mr Berry said: “As a result of the disclosure of the information Ms Mason stopped contact between Mr Jones and Child One until it was restored by the court.
“It caused him much upset. Planned outings with Child One were cancelled.
“The information was used against Mr Jones in court proceedings. It made him paranoid and he didn’t trust what the police would do with his information.”
However, the hearing also heard that both in his written statement and evidence Mr Jones said he did not wish to see DI Johnston sacked.
Mr Berry said DI Johnston’s actions would also harm the public reputation of the police.
He said: “Public confidence is clearly damaged by an officer’s misuse of personal data that was on a police system. That does significant harm to public confidence.
“DI Johnston is entirely to blame for his actions.”
Mr Berry said it was a case of serious gross misconduct by an officer who “should have obviously known better”.
He told the panel the data leaked included sensitive information about Mr Jones and this was an abuse of the power and privilege police have to access data on the system.
In his final submissions Nicholas Walker, representing DI Johnston, said his client had spent 24 years in the police and serving the public had been at the heart of his career.
Mr Berry told the hearing that DI Johnston had made no admissions of wrongdoing but Mr Walker said his client did understand the seriousness of his position and accepted the panel’s findings along with the consequences of that.
Mr Walker said there had been no malice, sinister intent or personal gain from DI Johnston’s actions passing on the information.
The hearing also heard that as DI Johnston had been off sick at the time of the incident he had not been the one who had gone into the system to access the information about Mr Jones.
Mr Walker said: “He could retire in 18 months and that would be his personal plan. Allow him to work until then and to put this momentary aberration into its proper place, knowing he has been held to account publicly for it.”
The hearing heard that police officers in leadership positions are “critical role models” responsible for reinforcing and representing themselves high standards of behaviour and ethics.
Concluding four days of proceedings on Thursday afternoon, the tribunal judge gave only a brief verbal summary of the findings and outcome but said the full reasons for the decision will be provided.
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