HAMPSHIRE'S top police officer has been formally cleared of any wrongdoing after the conclusion of an inquiry into a school hit by sex abuse claims.

As reported in the Daily Echo, Andy Marsh, the chief constable of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, was last month cleared of wrong-doing after an investigation by another force amid complaints about police inquiries surrounding Stanbridge Earls in Romsey.

Now the senior investigating officer on the case, Operation Oregon, has written to Hampshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Hayes, concluding there are no grounds to justify the serving of misconduct notices upon Mr Marsh.

Mr Hayes said: “All complaints against the Chief Constable have not been upheld.

“In his letter, Chief Constable Kavanagh (of Essex police) confirmed that Hampshire Constabulary provided full co-operation to the Operation Oregon team and that Chief Constable Marsh gave the investigation his full support, and provided a full, detailed and helpful account, which he was under no obligation to do.

“Having previously stated my absolute confidence in Chief Constable Marsh, I welcome this news and look forward to receiving the final report.”

Daily Echo: Hampshire PCC Simon Hayes

Hampshire Police and Crime Comissioner Simon Hayes

Mr Marsh said he welcomed the outcome of the investigation, and would like to thank everybody for their support over the recent months.

He said: “Effective policing requires high public confidence across our communities. This trust helps police to protect vulnerable people and to create a hostile environment for the most serious criminals.

“Confidence in policing in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is not just at an all time high, the independent crime survey consistently shows it to be considerably higher than in other parts of the country.

“That is because trust is built by the actions of thousands of dedicated police officers and staff who do not make the headlines, but serve the public every hour of every day.

“I am very proud to lead such an inspiring group of people and to have the privilege of receiving hundreds of emails and letters of thanks from the public, underlining the outstanding work that is done.”

Daily Echo: Stanbridge Earls school

Stanbridge Earls school

The inquiry, which was carried out by Essex Police on behalf of Mr Hayes, was launched last August amid breach of confidentiality and contempt of court claims.

It is understood to be the first time that a UK PCC has ordered a probe of their own chief constable.

As the Daily Echo revealed exclusively, Mr Marsh was investigated over nine complaints.

These included:

  • A failure to undertake a thorough investigation into the sexual abuse of vulnerable pupils.
  • As a result, a failure to protect a vulnerable child from harm.
  • Giving “instructions” to officers that were designed to “mislead” parents of alleged victims.
  • Leaking details of alleged victims.

Some of these allegations had related to Operation Flamborough - an inquiry set up by Hampshire police after claims that Stanbridge Earls failed to properly protect a vulnerable child who claimed to have been raped by fellow pupils.

Mr Marsh was also investigated over claims that he told his boss, Mr Hayes, that the operation was “established to protect Hampshire Constabulary's reputation”.

He was also accused of leaking details of a criminal investigation and details of alleged rape victims to Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, as well as to Hampshire County Council.

Mr Marsh's exoneration comes as prosecutors ruled that there was “insufficient evidence” to bring charges against claims of sexual abuse of pupils through Operation Flamborough, as reported.