A CHIEF Constable has been given the full backing of a force's police and crime panel after speaking of the 'hate campaign' he endured while leading a highly controversial investigation.

Mike Veale was reprimanded following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation after admitting telling conflicting stories about how he broke a work mobile phone.

Members of Cleveland Police's police and crime panel declared their support for the chief constable when they met on Tuesday evening.

The move came after questions were raised about his appointment while the investigation into how he told differing stories of how he smashed his mobile phone had been concluded.

Thanking members for their support, he said: "This has been not just been a sorry saga for the last 12 months, it has been probably been a sorry saga in some respects for two and a half years.

“I headed up a very high profile and very sensitive investigation into the former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and it is probably on the back of what can only be described as an almost unique hate campaign against one chief based upon limited or no facts leaked from the investigation that was conducted.

“I’m not going to discuss the rights and wrongs of carrying out the investigation, my main drive is to lead this force with compassion and strength and my strength has been tested because every time I spoke about this investigation it has usually resulted in a sensationalist headline and public commentary which has simply been incorrect of deliberately misleading.”

Initially he told colleagues that he had dropped his golf bag and it was inadvertently run over. But he later confessed to hitting his bag with a golf club after a “particularly poor shot”.

The senior officer, who was working at Wiltshire Police at the time of the incident, was cleared of deliberately smashing up the phone to destroy evidence connected to an investigation into non-recent child abuse against the former Conservative Prime Minister.

Michael Fallon and Ted Heath, the former Prime Minister, campaigning in Darlington in May 1983 Michael Fallon and Ted Heath, the former Prime Minister, campaigning in Darlington in May 1983

Sir Ted Heath, left, in Darlington in 1983 with Michael Fallon, right

He told the panel that he had been expecting a vexatious complaint against him after to refused to drop the investigation despite significant pressure being applied by members of 'the establishment'.

The anonymous complaint was made in September last year.

He said: “I hope my integrity will be defined by my refusal to be bullied into ignoring claims against a high-profile public figure. I hope my integrity will be defined because I didn’t buckle under the pressure from members of the establishment or the public commentary which was inaccurate.

“I conducted an impartial, independent and very objective investigation and I hope that my integrity is absolutely defined because I always listen to vulnerable victims and people who are alleging they are victims of sexual abuse and I take their claims very seriously and I will continue to do so as I have always done for the past 35 years.

“I also hope my integrity will be defined by the fact that I took the lead in this investigation and I didn’t leave it to junior members, who could have been pilloried in the press and for me that showed not only my integrity but the courage of my convictions.”

Among those praising the chief constable was independent member Paul McGrath who said Mr Veale's interview was one of the best he had ever sat in on.

He said: "I have got to say that I thought Mike Veale gave one of the best panel interviews that I have ever come across and on that basis, we could do nothing else but appoint him."