Senior police officer who threw stress ball at colleague is set to keep job

A senior police officer who committed misconduct by hurling a stress ball at a colleague's throat should face "management action", a disciplinary panel has recommended.

Matthew Horne, Deputy Chief Constable of Essex Police, faced three allegations of abusive behaviour towards two colleagues and all were found proven by a misconduct panel following a five-day hearing in Chelmsford.

The final decision on Mr Horne's fate will be made by Essex's Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh at a later date.

Essex Police said Mr Horne would not be dismissed.

Mr Horne's actions were "effectively ... a type of bullying behaviour", the hearing was earlier told by the force's representative Stephen Morley.

The first allegation against Mr Horne was that he angrily swore at a colleague and leaned in with clenched fists, the second was that he pushed a colleague against a desk and the third was that he threw a rubber stress ball at a colleague's throat, leaving a red mark.

The panel found that in respect of the first allegation, Mr Horne did swear at Superintendent Glenn Maleary, which amounts to misconduct, but the rest of the allegation was found unproven.

He also pushed Chief Superintendent Carl O'Malley, causing him to fall on to a desk, and threw a rubber stress ball which hit his throat and left a red mark, the panel concluded, with both allegations proven at a level of misconduct.

A force spokesman said: "This hearing involved senior police officers with decades of good conduct and brave, diligent service between them, often in extremely stressful situations.

"The panel has recommended management action as the most appropriate sanction for each count proven.

"Dorian Lovell-Pank QC, panel chair, said Mr Horne has brought strength and honour to each force in which he has served.

"A further hearing will be held where the appropriate authority, Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh, will determine what sanctions will be applied."

The spokesman added that the events happened more than two years ago, and that the force had since been inspected on ethical conduct, with inspectors finding that "leaders are aware of the importance of an ethical approach and act as ethical role models".

"We will reflect carefully on the detailed panel findings and will of course look to ensure that any wider learning for the force is taken on board," the spokesman said.

Sarah Green, regional director of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said: "We expect the highest standards of professional behaviour from the police, and those in senior positions should lead by example.

"DCC Horne's behaviour towards two subordinates was unacceptable for any police officer, let alone one of his seniority and experience."

She said the IOPC investigation report into the matter would be made public after Essex's Chief Constable has held a further meeting next month and decided what sanction Mr Horne should face.