A POLICE officer who confronted a man who had had an affair with his wife and accessed confidential police records, has been dismissed from his force.

PC Christopher Parnell, based in Harrogate with North Yorkshire Police, this week faced a misconduct hearing over allegations that he confronted and intimidated a former retained firefighter and odd jobs man at his home in Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire after discovering he had had an affair with his wife.

He was also accused of unlawfully accessing the police recording system, NICHE, 37 times between April 2011 and January 2017 without an appropriate policing purpose to find information about people he knew.

The disciplinary panel at North Yorkshire Police’s headquarters in Northallerton described this as a “severe breach” of confidentiality and his most “serious transgression” in the matters he was facing.

No details of the nature of the information he was accessing on the police records were read out to the panel, as mid-way through Wednesday morning’s proceedings, PC Parnell announced he would resign from the force.

His barrister, Michael Rawlinson, said he was resigning to preserve the “dignity of his family” owing to coverage of the public hearing and as a result would not contest any findings.

Mr Rawlinson said his client didn’t wish to vent such personal matters in front of the public or panel, saying: “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.”

The hearing was also told PC Parnell had an undeclared business interest in a cleaning company, Clean Move Cleaning Contractors Ltd, based in Huddersfield, of which it is believed he was listed as a director and was also the named landlord of a property he rented out in Huddersfield between December 2013 and February 2017. As well as failing to declare the businesses, he had also used his police email and photocopier for the businesses.

The misconduct panel at North Yorkshire Police’s headquarters yesterday found him guilty of gross misconduct, resulting in dismissal without notice from the force.

Chairman of the panel, Tom Mitchell said in his conclusion: “PC Parnell’s most serious transgression related to his repeated and unlawful access to the North Yorkshire Police NICHE computer system.

“Every citizen has the right to expect the police officers will respect their privacy and not invade it except with good and sufficient cause.

“It was clear from PC Parnell’s evidence in this case that he knew his access to that system was wrong. What we find at this stage is he always knew that to be so. That fact is widely accepted and known as a declared corporate policy.

“Unless there be any confusion all officers and the public at large should know that unlawful access of confidential information will inevitably be regarded as a severe breach of the required professional standard of confidentiality.”