A SENIOR police officer sacked for lying after suffering facial injuries when he was knocked out by a love rival has had the decision overturned.

Lee Rukin suffered a fractured eye socket and cheek bone, as well as having several teeth damaged, when he had his “face smashed in", in May last year.

At a disciplinary hearing in August, the Temporary Chief Inspector was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct after being found guilty of breaching Cleveland Police’s guidelines of honesty and integrity, and discreditable conduct.

However, that decision was overturned at a Police Appeals Tribunal (PAT) and the force has confirmed that at present the officer has not returned to duty. Both hearings were chaired by people independent of the force.

The ruling published on the force's website reads: "The PAT upheld the panel’s finding in respect of the first matter faced by Mr Rukin, namely that he had breached the code in respect of honesty and integrity. The PAT further determined that such breach amounted to misconduct and not as the panel had found, gross misconduct.

"In relation to the second matter faced by Mr Rukin, namely that he had breached the code in respect of discreditable conduct, the PAT determined that the decision of the panel should be quashed.

"The PAT further determined that the sanction of dismissal imposed by the panel was unreasonable and substituted it for the sanction of a 'final written warning'."

During the original hearing, the former firearms officer was accused of lying to several senior officers about how he suffered the injuries in an attempt to mislead them into believing they were caused during a cycling accident.

The officer did not deny making up the story, but said he only did so to protect his own privacy and that of his family as well as the families of the colleague he was having a relationship with and her former partner, who carried out the attack.

A Cleveland Police spokesperson said: “The Police Appeals Tribunal has overturned a decision to dismiss former Temporary Chief Inspector Lee Rukin in favour of the sanction of a final written warning for breaching honesty and integrity.

“We maintain that all police officers should act with honesty and integrity at all times and uphold the highest standards of professional behaviour, which rightly the public expects from the police service. We will carefully assess the judgement made by the Police Appeals Tribunal and consider options available to us.”