Police HR boss continues to face probe over staff ‘bullying’ complaints

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A HR boss at South Yorkshire Police remains under investigation over claims of ‘bullying and harassment’ - despite a force-ordered probe clearing him.

Two officers and four other members of staff in South Yorkshire are understood to have complained about the conduct of Ian Watson, who is assistant chief officer of human resources for both Humberside and South Yorkshire Police.

Both forces have refused FoI requests from The Star to publish the findings of two reports into the complaints, but Humberside Police’s response said investigations have found he had ‘no case to answer’.

More than £30,000 was spent on solicitors producing the second report.

However, it is understood that decision has been appealed by the South Yorkshire Police Federation on behalf of its members involved in the grievance process.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman has confirmed the grievance process is ‘ongoing’.

The complaints were originally made last year, resulting in an investigation being conducted into the allegations by Sharon Ault of Nottinghamshire Police, with a follow-up report then carried out by the Grimsby-based Wilkin Chapman Solicitors. Both forces have refused to publish either of the reports.

Humberside Police confirmed £33,783.48 was paid to Wilkin Chapman from their report, with ‘no record’ of payments made to Nottinghamshire Police in relation to the first report. The response from South Yorkshire Police said ‘the misconduct investigation found no case to answer’.

In their ruling on the decision to withhold the reports, South Yorkshire Police said the report should be considered exempt from Freedom of Information rules on publication as ‘it refers to the disclosure of legal advice provided to a public authority’.

It is understood the ruling of there being no case to answer is being challenged by those involved in the grievance procedure.

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “We can confirm that Assistant Chief Officer Ian Watson is still Head of Human Resources Shared Services and we continue pay our proportion of his salary. There is an ongoing grievance process and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Mr Watson joined Humberside Police in 2008 and was appointed to South Yorkshire Police in November 2010.