CLEVELAND Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner will continue to lead the search for a new chief constable, despite facing allegations of sexual assault.

The force began searching for a new police chief in August, after former Chief Constable Richard Lewis gave notice to take up a new post in Wales.

Mr Turner was among a six-person appointment panel last Thursday, but the force will continue to search for a successor after an unsuccessful process so far.

The force interviewed two people for the role, but neither was found to be suitable.

The newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) holds the ability to hire and fire the chief constable but has been under growing pressure to resign following an allegation made in Parliament that he received a caution for theft while working at a supermarket.

Read more: Teesside Tories urged to call on police boss Steve Turner to step down

A second allegation, believed to relate to a sexual assault decades ago, has also been submitted to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), leading to critics calling for him to stand down during the investigation.

The Northern Echo: Andy McDonald MP for MiddlesbroughAndy McDonald MP for Middlesbrough

Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, questioned the decision of Mr Turner continuing to hold office and appointing the new police chief.

“I have made it clear that he should have already resigned following the revelation about his previously undisclosed police caution from Cleveland Police,” he said.

“He hasn’t done that and that is regrettable and wrong. We now know that in addition to that matter, the IOPC are investigating two further matters and we know one of them to be one of the utmost seriousness.

“It is utterly farcical that in those circumstances Steve Turner remains involved in the appointment process for a new chief constable. He should of course step aside and allow the search to proceed without his involvement.”

But the PCC has repeatedly refused to stand down saying it would result in “political carnage” as he hit back at critics in a statement.

Read more: Cleveland police boss Steve Turner faces probe over sexual assault allegation

He said: “I am appalled at the allegation and the connotations around it.

“That said, I genuinely believe that it is right and proper that all allegations are taken seriously and that an independent investigation takes place.

“Due to my role within Cleveland it is inappropriate for me to comment further and appropriate for this investigation to be carried out by an independent police force once appointed.”

Mr McDonald added: “It is extremely disappointing that we are losing such an excellent chief constable in Richard Lewis.

“It makes it all the more important that his successor is of the highest calibre and is able to continue with the important work that Dr Lewis has already begun in making the necessary changes at Cleveland Police.

“That process is severely hampered and undermined by the involvement of the current PCC.”

Interim arrangements are now being considered for the role, according to Mr Turner.

He said: “We held a rigorous process, with two days of interviews and a total of 26 people sitting over three different panels. At the end of the two-day assessment process the appointment panel unanimously agreed with my decision that none of the candidates were suitable for the position of chief constable in Cleveland at this time.”

“This is a setback I would prefer we didn’t face, however we will now set about considering alternative options to fill the role of Chief Constable.”

“The Commissioner’s Office is now drawing up plans to look at interim arrangements for the role.”

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