A CHIEF constable tonight blamed the culture at the top of Cleveland Police for the downfall of a disgraced senior officer.

Jacqui Cheer was speaking after Derek Bonnard was sacked as deputy chief constable of the force for gross misconduct following a long-running independent disciplinary hearing.

Mr Bonnard was summarily dismissed after a catalogue of offences were uncovered during a widespread probe into the force.

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Six charges were proven against the 50-year-old following an investigation carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The decision comes six months after Sean Price, the former Chief Constable, was sacked for gross misconduct following another independent investigation into wrongdoing at the force.

Mr Bonnard was found to have:

• deliberately obstructed the criminal investigation known as Operation Sacristy;

• misused public funds in relation to a charity bike ride;

• misused a corporate credit card;

• inappropriately hired a vehicle which he crashed, costing the tax payer more than £5,000;

• accepted inappropriate hospitality;

• failed to follow policy and procedure in relation to a redundancy matter.


Mr Bonnard has always maintained his innocence and submitted a number of serious complaints against the Operation Sacristy investigation to the IPCC after he was told he would not face any charges connected to the criminal inquiry.

Tonight, Mrs Cheer strongly criticised the actions of the disgraced officer as he attempted to continually delay the hearing.

“Mr Bonnard publically stated he had done nothing wrong – he clearly had,” she said.

“Mr Bonnard publically stated he wanted the opportunity to clear his name – and yet has done everything possible to delay and frustrate the disciplinary process and blame others for his own actions.”

Mrs Cheer added: “Mr Bonnard chose to behave as he wished and in complete contrast to the vast majority of officers, no matter their rank, who uphold the law and serve the public with integrity.

"He had little regard for the public purse whilst in post and could have saved thousands of pounds if he had done the right thing and admitted his misconduct at the earliest opportunity.

“He has let down the people who worked with and for him. He has let himself down and most importantly he has let down the people of Cleveland.

“Together with the former Chief Constable Mr Price, he was part of a culture at the top where this behaviour was not only tolerated, it was also encouraged.

"It should not have happened and I will do all I can to ensure we deal effectively and robustly with the issues uncovered during the investigation.”

Mr Bonnard, who maintains he twice offered to resign from his post last year, said he intends to appeal against the decision of the misconduct hearing in an attempt to clear his name.

He said: “Sadly, during this investigation I have finally learnt how powerful and unfettered the police service can be if the proper controls are not in place. It appears some take the view that results must be obtained at any cost despite the evidence.

“I believe this misconduct outcome was reached as a means to help justify the multi-million pound costs of the Sacristy investigation, against me and many others, that started in 2010 and still continues.

“Undoubtedly, some people will claim a victory and will use the media to condemn me in harsh terms. Nothing they say can ever detract from all I have tried to achieve for the public nor my innocence of anything other than, at worst, professional misjudgement whilst undertaking a very difficult job.”

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said the ruling ended a "sorry chapter" for Cleveland Police.

He added: "The two most senior police officers in the force have had their careers unceremoniously ended because of their individual failings.

"Events of the past two years can only have diminished public confidence in the force.

"I hope the conclusion of these disciplinary matters can act as a salutary reminder to all senior police officers that their role is to ensure the communities they serve are protected from crime and that they must be public servants beyond reproach.

"Above all, they must not to abuse the trust placed in them to benefit themselves and others financially.”

One gross misconduct charge against Mr Bonnard was not proven while another has been put on hold until the conclusion of the criminal investigation, Operation Sacristy, is concluded. He has ten days to lodge an appeal.


Mrs Cheer, who was the temporary chief constable of the force for 18 months in the wake of the arrests of Mr Bonnard and Mr Price in August 2011, has implemented a number of changes to ensure there can be no repeat of the abuse of office.

The chief constable has also promised to release more details of the charges and reasoning behind the decision to sack the officer as soon as she can.

Tomorrow prospective candidates for the deputy’s post, which was advertised earlier this month, have been invited to attend an open day of the force's headquarters in Middlesbrough, when Mrs Cheer will be on hand to explain the challenges and changes the force is facing.