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Chief constable defended over alleged cover-up of sex abuse claims

County's top cop is defended by PCC as investigation into handling of school sexual abuse claims continues

Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Andy Marsh

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes has backed chief constable Andy Marsh as investigations continue into allegations the county’s top cop was involved in a cover-up surrounding sex abuse allegations.

Operation Oregon is investigating whether CC Marsh was involved in a breach of confidentiality and contempt of court during rape investigations at Stanbridge Earls School.

The complaints centre on Hampshire police’s investigation into allegations a girl was raped and other pupils sexually abused at the former special school near Romsey, which closed last year.

Chief constable Steve Kavanagh, of Essex Police, the senior investigating officer on Operation Oregon, has notified Mr Hayes, after a further review of the material obtained by the operation, there are no grounds to justify serving misconduct notices on CC Marsh.

Crime commissioner Mr Hayes said: “Although Essex Police has not yet concluded its investigation into Operation Oregon, I consider this matter of sufficient interest to inform the public on CC Kavanagh’s assessment to date.

"This should provide reassurance chief constable Andy Marsh has conducted himself appropriately and his leadership of Hampshire Constabulary is not in question.

"Through this statement, I would like to reiterate my absolute confidence in the chief constable and in Hampshire Constabulary. I will continue to keep residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight informed.”

In August, an inquiry was launched on behalf of Mr Hayes. After an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by pupils against fellow students, the Crown Prosecution Service reviewed a decision not to prosecute 12 individuals at Stanbridge Earls School.

Mr Hayes added: “Although I welcome the CPS verdict, it is important to remember the wellbeing of vulnerable young people and their families was at the centre of the investigation.

"Putting victims and witnesses at the heart of what we do, it was absolutely essential concerns raised pertaining to activities at the school were fully and thoroughly investigated.”

CC Marsh joined Hampshire Constabulary as deputy chief constable in September 2010 from Avon and Somerset Constabulary, where he was assistant chief constable. He was promoted in January 2013.

Operation Oregon continues.

 

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