A FIREARMS officer who was cleared of a public order offence will start back at work today.

PC Neil Bell, who is stationed at Darlington, was suspended after he was charged with assault and a public order offence after hitting a nightclubber while dressed as Superman. But on Wednesday, at Penrith Magistrates' Court, the assault charge against PC Bell, who lives at Churchill Road, Barnard Castle, County Durham, was dropped and the court found him not guilty of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour.

Following the hearing, a report was submitted to the Deputy Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary to decide if any further action was needed to be taken against PC Bell.

A spokesman for Durham Police said yesterday: "PC Neil Bell has now been reinstated and will start back at work tomorrow. No further action will be taken."

PC Bell said he acted in self-defence after a group of men mistakenly thought he was attacking his girlfriend, Angela Newton.

PC Bell and a group of friends were collecting money for charity in fancy dress on a night out in Penrith, when the incident happened in the early hours of Saturday, December 20, last year.