Chief officer guilty of gross misconduct over potentially ‘catastrophic’ secret paper theft

A senior counter terrorism officer who left top secret papers in the boot of his vehicle faces dismissal, two months after being convicted of a criminal offence for his mistake.

Feb 13, 2018

A senior counter terrorism officer who left top secret papers in the boot of his vehicle faces dismissal, two months after being convicted of a criminal offence for his mistake. The highly classified documents – which have not yet been recovered – were stolen from Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale’s unmarked car in May last year. On Tuesday (February 13), a West Midlands Police disciplinary panel found him guilty of gross misconduct, and has recommended his dismissal to Chief Constable Dave Thompson. The panel heard several secret documents – including the minutes of a meeting of the Executive Liaison Group – were placed in a locked metal briefcase in the boot of Mr Beale’s car on May 10. His car was moved to a number of different locations over five days, including at a pub, a supermarket, and a railway station while he had a weekend away with his wife. It was not until May 15 when Mr Beale stopped at a service station on his way to Oxford that he realised the briefcase had been stolen. The panel chair said the whereabouts of the paperwork remains a “mystery”, and a legal counsel for the force said the loss could have been “catastrophic”. Representing Mr Beale, John Beggs said it was an “isolated act, wholly out of character” and recommended that the panel take his 30-year career into consideration. He summarised 98 testimonials in which Mr Beale was said to have “helped stop people being murdered and maimed” and referred to cases where terror plots were foiled, partly due to his leadership. Fiona Barton, representing West Midlands Police, said: “It is a matter of luck the documents do not appear to have seen the light of day. “The documents should never have been in a locked briefcase and in an unattended car certainly not for a few minutes, let alone days.” In December 2017, Mr Beale pleaded guilty to failing to safeguard information under the Official Secrets Act 1989. He was fined £3,500 and has been suspended on full pay since November.

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