Details published in a regional daily’s expose on a police chief’s credit card spending have been cited in a document which calls for his resignation.
The North West Evening Mail published a story in February which revealed that Stuart Hyde, the suspended temporary chief constable of Cumbria, had used his corporate credit card to pay for cinema trips, car repairs and meals in restaurants.
Almost one year after his suspension, police and crime commissioner Richard Rhodes has now said that Mr Hyde should resign or retire and published the reasons for his suspension – which include breach of force policy for credit card spending and tweets about eating pies while on duty.
The Evening Mail published its story following a Freedom of Information request by crime reporter Will Metcalfe.
He said: “At the time we ran the story we didn’t know why Stuart Hyde had been suspended but we did think his spending would be of interest to our readers.
“I put in an FoI request to see his corporate credit card spending because I had a feeling it could be for financial reasons – even then the results were pretty startling.
“Not only had he paid for a cinema trip and a number of trips to restaurants like Pizza Express but a stay at a swanky hotel in Bahrain and car repairs.
“The fact we published the story and highlighted this months before police confirmed it to be one of the reasons behind an investigation where the bill has run into six-figures, shows we are a newspaper determined to get to the heart of big issues that the authorities are not always willing to discuss.”
Despite the amounts being repaid, it has emerged that the spending was a breach of Cumbria police’s corporate credit card guidelines.
Mr Rhodes revealed that 50pc of the spending on Mr Hyde’s credit card was either on personal items or without proper receipts.
An investigation into the police chief’s conduct by South Wales police has cost £11,884.89 and Cumbria police has incurred £158,809 in legal fees along with Mr Hyde’s £130,000 salary and the £189,000 salary of his stand-in, acting chief constable Bernard Lawson, who was seconded from Merseyside Police.
Deputy editor James Higgins said: “Will is a naturally inquisitive reporter and is always digging away for that next exclusive. This was a simple FOI based on intuition and reaped fantastic results.”
The paper’s original story can be read here.