A POLICE officer who visited the home of a man who had an affair with his wife has resigned before the end of a disciplinary hearing into his actions.

North Yorkshire PC Christopher Parnell, who is the subject of a misconduct hearing, says he quit in order to maintain his family’s dignity.

He is facing a disciplinary hearing over his visit to the Boroughbridge home of a friend of 12 years after learning he had had an affair with his wife.

Earlier the hearing heard how the retained firefighter and odd jobs man had had an affair with the police officer’s wife last year.

The Harrogate-based police officer learnt about the affair several weeks later from another woman in the town.

He also learnt the fireman had lost his temper when he discovered the PC’s wife, Kath Parnell, had told other people of the affair. 

He is said to have told another woman in the town he could have the PC’s wife “buried on the moors” for making their affair public.

He also went to the family home of PC Parnell to speak to his wife.

Three days later the police officer visited the home of the firefighter and asked to see text messages sent between the two.

The chairman of the panel, Tom Mitchell indicated what his findings were likely to be regarding whether PC Parnell’s conduct in visiting the home of retained firefighter Robert Billings fell short of expected standards.

He said the police officer’s behaviour had fallen below those standards and undermined public confidence in policing.

However, he said bearing in mind the circumstances, he was mindful to find it amounted to misconduct, not gross misconduct. Gross misconduct amounts to instant dismissal.

He said: “The fact is PC Parnell is a police officer; that fact was known to (the firefighter). At all times he carried with him the authority of the law; that would embolden him.

“We found PC Parnell abused the authority vested in him and failed to show him due respect and courtesy.”

He concluded: “Whilst in the circumstances we’re not confined to finding out these breaches whether these breaches amount to gross misconduct or misconduct; it may have been helpful to give some indication of the findings as required.

“If this was the only matter PC Parnell would have faced we would have found this matter to be serious. But bearing in mind the circumstances that led to this it would have led to misconduct just short of gross misconduct.”

The next part of the hearing was due to look at whether he had unlawfully accessed NICHE, the police recording system. It is alleged he accessed the system on 37 occasions without an appropriate policing purpose between April 2011 and January 2017.

The panel was also due to look at whether he held undeclared business interests.

Part-way through the morning’s proceedings, PC Parnell announced through his barrister that he was going to resign, in order to preserve his dignity and that of his family.

His barrister, Michael Rawlinson told the panel: “I’ve taken some instructions from PC Parnell. He will not be seeking to dissuade you from a finding in due course regarding the outcome that dismissal is appropriate in this case.

“We will not be seeking to dissuade you from that.

“With credit to PC Parnell he had expressed the view that he has found these proceedings exceptionally difficult from a personal point of view. They have in some cases been inaccurately reported in the papers.

“In order to preserve his own dignity, and the dignity of his family and the office of constable and North Yorkshire Police, he doesn’t wish to prolong or elongate these proceedings if necessary.

"He doesn’t wish to ventilate quite personal matters either in front of the panel or the public. In the circumstances we will not be seeking to challenge what Mr Pleeth says regarding what is the appropriate outcome in this case.”

The chairman is expected to deliver a finding later this afternoon.