An Assistant Chief Constable in the West Midlands Police Force has been suspended from active service, fined £3500 and now faces dismissal after a special disciplinary panel found him guilty of gross misconduct for losing a number of classified documents that were not supposed to leave police premises.
Marcus Beale, whose career with the service has spanned thirty years, was the head of the regions Counter Terrorism Unit when he allowed a briefcase containing several classified documents, including top secret minutes of an Executive Liaison Group meeting and details of a high-profile investigation, to be stolen from the boot of his car.
Beale, one of the regions most distinguished officers, had left the briefcase in the vehicle for five days whilst travelling around the country, leaving the vehicle unattended in London and in a supermarket carpark, and could not tell authorities when the case may have been removed from the car as he was not aware of the theft until opening his boot at a service station while on his way to Oxford.
The Assistant Chief Constable, due to retire in April, has already pleaded guilty to breaching terms of the Official Secrets Act, resulting in a fine of £3500 in December 2017, and if he is dismissed as per the recommendation from the disciplinary hearing, he stands to lose his £215,000 pension lump sum. At the hearing Corinna Ferguson, the panels chairman, delivered the following statement:
"We have decided to recommend dismissal as the appropriate outcome.
"We consider this as the necessary sanction for what we regard as a serious breach of protocol as to the handling of top-secret and secret material, as it is necessary to retain public confidence and the reputation of the police."
The briefcase has not yet been recovered, and Fiona Barton QC stated:
“The impact could have been catastrophic. It is a matter of luck the documents do not appear to have seen the light of day.”