A senior Metropolitan Police officer accused of accessing police information in a bid to help his defence in a bullying investigation has been cleared of misconduct.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matthew Horne threw a stress ball at a colleague, pushed them against a desk and swore at another officer while working as deputy chief constable of Essex Police.
The senior officer was alleged to have improperly asked for and accessed documents about Superintendent Glenn Maleary, whom Mr Horne was found to have sworn at, shortly before a disciplinary hearing into the bullying was held in 2018.
He was found to have breached force standards on three occasions between 2015 and 2016 but allowed to keep his job.
The senior officer admitted requesting and receiving the information but claimed he had a proper purpose in doing so.
A hearing at Thames Valley Police headquarters in Oxford on Friday ruled his actions did not constitute a breach of professional standards.
Mr Horne was also said to have failed to “promptly and appropriately” report, challenge or take action against David Clark, who passed him the information while working as a temporary commander at City of London Police.
A previous hearing was told Mr Horne was aware of information that alleged Mr Maleary skipped meetings, ignored emails and sometimes became “Monty Python-ish”.
Mr Maleary was also said to have sometimes been “abusive and aggressive” and sworn when challenged, the tribunal heard.
The documents Mr Horne was passed related to a fraud investigation and staffing issues, the hearing was told.
Mr Clark was placed on the police barred list after a disciplinary panel found he passed on the information.
During cross-examination on Thursday, Mr 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 City of London Police’s professional standards department.
Adrian Keeling KC, representing the Metropolitan Police, asked him: “You did not have a proper policing purpose to investigate your own misconduct, did you?”
Mr 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 Mr 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.
The Crown Prosecution Service did not prosecute Mr Horne following a two-year investigation.
He formally denied breaching force standards for integrity, discreditable conduct, challenging or reporting improper conduct and confidentiality before his cross-examination began.