"There is no place for dishonesty in policing". Can a senior police officer have actually said that? Well, yes, those were the words of Michael Cunningham, the Chief Constable of Staffordshire and head of the Association of Chief Police Officers to the BBC yesterday
commenting on the case of his fellow and now former Chief Constable, Sean Price. The real tragedy of this case is that in the first instance, Price didn't do anything wrong. It started off when he tried to do a favour for one of his cronies by fixing up the man's daughter with a job. This is commonly known as networking, and provided the woman in question was suitably qualified, it should have been no cause for concern.
For some reason though, this favour became the subject of an internal investigation. If at this point he had owned up, it is difficult to see what he could have been deemed to have done wrong. However, he didn't, and is said to have directed a member of his staff to lie to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which the person concerned did not
. As a result of that, he appeared before a Cleveland Police Authority disciplinary hearing and has now lost his job, though not his pension.
Although one should have sympathy for Mr Price, some lies can have this effect. This case has less in common with Bill Clinton - "I did not have sexual relations with that woman..." and more in common with that of the speeding judge
While one can sympathise with Sean Price, how can one have any sympathy at all with a woman who starts an illicit relationship with a convicted rapist behind bars, smuggles in contraband for him, and then when she is exposed, accuses him of rape? Such were the crimes of Karen Cosford
Convicted rapist Brian McBride is serving a life sentence in Wakefield, a high security prison that houses some of the most dangerous inmates in Britain. It remains to be seen what madness led Cosford, who was not only a nurse but a married woman, to start any sort of relationship with such a man, but she didn't simply do that, she brought him top ups for a mobile phone - and quite likely the phone itself.
She also dragged in three of her colleagues, one of whom caught her having sex with McBride in the prison's medical centre and failed to report it.
Finally, when she was exposed, she accused her lover of raping her, which under the circumstances was a very plausible claim, and she might have got away with it if she hadn't written him a love letter.
Cosford was convicted at Bradford Crown Court of misconduct; she will return for sentence on Monday, when she can expect to be dealt with severely.
This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened; the most notorious such case is probably that of Moors Murderess Myra Hindley
, whose lesbian lover prison officer tried to assist her to escape.
Patricia Cairns was given a six year sentence. Cosford can expect less than that, but probably not much less.
There is also the little matter of how and why a woman was left alone with a potentially dangerous individual in a high security prison; this should be reviewed as a matter of urgency not by the prison but at a far higher level.