The whistleblower who exposed the police’s manipulation of crime figures is being forced to go without pay for months by the Metropolitan Police, it has emerged.
PC James Patrick, who resigned from the force over his treatment at the hands of senior officers, is claiming constructive dismissal, saying he was victimised for speaking out. But, because of a “quirk of the rules”, police officers are denied the “interim relief” pay other people can draw while their employment tribunal cases are being heard, it was revealed this week.
Instead, PC Patrick will be forced to live without his salary from the date of his resignation on 6 June to the conclusion of his case, which is not expected to take place until as late as September, his local MP said during a Commons speech on Thursday. And Channel 4 News understands that lawyers acting for the Met pushed for the interim relief to be withheld from him during tribunal proceedings.
Bernard Jenkin and his colleagues on the public administration select committee relied heavily on the evidence of PC Patrick in their inquiry into the manipulation of crime figures. Largely thanks to his evidence, the police watchdog Tom Winsor was forced to admit that crime figures were being fiddled by police.
“The most depressing part of our inquiry is the way in which the Metropolitan police have treated my constituent, PC James Patrick, who was our key witness.
“Acting as a whistleblower, he tried to highlight serious concerns about police recorded crime and the target culture. We record the fact that we are indebted to PC Patrick for his courage in speaking out, in fulfilment of his duty to the highest standards of public service despite intense pressure to the contrary,” Jenkin told MPs.
In their report, released this week, the committee members called for measures to be put in place to provide better protection for police whistleblowers.
Jenkin revealed on Thursday that a host of proposals being considered by the Home Office in response to his inquiry were listed in a letter sent to him by the crime prevention minister this week.
“They are: ‘Anonymity for the whistleblower from the point at which the allegation is made; ‘sealed’ investigations so that, for a set period, no one under investigation knows that it is happening; immunity from disciplinary or misconduct proceedings; financial incentives for whistleblowers, for example a share of recovered criminal assets from the case; protection against vexatious or malicious allegations.”
And he added that he has already held a meeting with the Home Secretary Theresa May over the findings in the committee’s report.
The committee members also demanded that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary open an investigation into the Met’s treatment of PC Patrick. And Jenkin said: “We do not believe that the Metropolitan police service has treated him fairly or with respect and care.”
What I have learned today, that I knew already: interim relief is imperfect law. Off to explain human impact to my wife and children.
— James Patrick (@J_amesp) April 8, 2014
PC Patrick was accused of gross misconduct by the Met after he published a collection of blogposts on policing in a book in 2012; the proceeds of which went to charity. He subsequently gave evidence to the select committee’s inquiry, which caused embarrassment for the force and lead directly to police-recorded crime figures losing the “gold standard” national statistics rating.
The allegations against him were downgraded to misconduct earlier this year, meaning that he would not face the sack. But Patrick resigned, saying that his decision to do so arose “directly from my treatment as a result of making disclosures in good faith and in the public interest”.
And his concerns were echoed on Thursday by Dr Julian Lewis MP, who said: “It is never easy to be a whistleblower, but I cannot imagine a much tougher environment to be a whistleblower in than the police service.”
The Metropolitan Police said it would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing employment tribunal case.