A TRIP to Denver for two award-winning detectives was turned into a booze fuelled freebie for the two men who headed up Cleveland Police.
What should have been a proud night for the force turned into an embarrassing evening as the then chairman of Cleveland Police, Dave McLuckie, said in front of the host of the event that he would have "chinned" the Denver Police Chief.
The larger-than-life former chairman was also heard on several occasions shouting across the packed conference room to former Chief Constable Sean Price demanding that he get him a drink – shouting "Price – bar" while waving an empty glass in the air.
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Detective Sergeant Rebecca Driscoll and Detective Constable Gill Matthews were invited to attend the International Association of Woman Police (IAWP) after they helped expose a transatlantic drugs network.
Their expertise and dedication played a pivotal part in breaking up the supply chain between the UK and the States, which closed 100 drugs factories in the US.
However, the behaviour of Mr McLuckie and their boss Mr Price overshadowed the celebrations.
A misconduct hearing report released as part of the Operation Sacristy investigation showed that the former chairman had behaved in a boorish way after he believed he had been snubbed by the Denver Police chief during a formal dinner in September 2007.
The report which includes evidence from one witness, states: “During a lunch ceremony involving senior officers and other dignitaries from all over the world, McLuckie behaved in a rude, unprofessional and embarrassing way.
“The host explained how she had risen through the ranks despite being a mother-of-four and stated that she had only been able to achieve that due to the flexible working practices instigated by the Denver Police Chief.
“In front of the host of the event, McLuckie stated that he would have ‘chinned’ the Denver Police Chief. It is believed that there was a grievance between McLuckie and the Denver Chief who had ignored McLuckie. The comments were felt to be embarrassing.”
Mr McLuckie is also said to have complained about the quality of the food and demanded that the former chief constable "should take him out for something decent to eat after the meal".
The trip cost the taxpayer £7,312.72 despite the two recipients having their expenses covered as invited guests, while their partners paid for their own costs to attend the conference.
Undeterred by their experience the pair returned to Denver two years later to attend the International Association of Chief Police Officers Conference.
This time they invited along the two women who would later become their wives.
Mr Price was accompanied by his partner and staff officer Inspector Heather Eastwood, who later resigned from the force after failing to inform her superiors she had been arrested for being drunk and disorderly.
And Mr McLuckie was accompanied by the former secretarial manager of Cleveland Police Authority Julie Leng, who he later married after being imprisoned last year for perverting the course of justice.
The trip, which included business class flights and stays at the Marriott hotel in Denver and Radisson Heathrow Hotel, cost the taxpayer £18,015.49.
During an interview as part of the investigation into his gross misconduct, Mr Price produced a prepared statement where he denied hearing Mr McLuckie threaten to chin the Denver Police chief but said that the former CPA chairman felt he had been snubbed by the American officer when he barely spoke to him during the event.
He also described Mr McLuckie’s attempts to get him to buy him a drink by shouting across the room was just his sense of humour but was not responsible for the manner in which his friend may "spontaneously" choose to behave.
The report into the trip concluded: “The cost of the trip and the cost to the public purse (particularly with Price and McLuckie travelling business class) was excessive, contrary to Cleveland Police policies and unacceptable.
“Price knew or ought to have known that to be the case and that his actions constituted an abuse of public funds.”