A senior police officer accused of mortgage fraud, once the face of the force, has been sacked.
Chief Inspector John Buttress, 48, was dismissed for ‘gross misconduct’ following a week-long disciplinary hearing.
He was accused of failing to tell his mortgage provider that he was using part of his north Wales farmhouse for holiday lets.
The officer was charged with mortgage fraud but a jury took just 20 minutes to clear him following a trial in January.
But he remained the subject of internal disciplinary proceedings which has now concluded he was guilty of ‘gross misconduct’. He was dismissed from his ?55,000-a-year post with immediate effect.
While the jurors in his trial had to ask whether he was guilty ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, the panel of two senior police officers and a lay member decided he was guilty ‘on the balance of probabilities’.
The former officer is considering an appeal.
Speaking outside GMP’s headquarters in Newton Heath moments after learning the ruling, Mr Buttress said: “I’m absolutely flabbergasted. It’s just utterly ridiculous.”
He continued: “I absolutely deny any suggestion of dishonesty and always have done. There isn’t even a motive for me to have done the things I have done. It’s clearly ridiculous.”
He said he had ‘never clocked a sub-clause which is in the 80-page booklet accompanying the mortgage details’ which required him to tell his loan provider part of the farmhouse was being let to holiday-makers.
After his arrest, he said he notified his provider and they charged him ?75 administration fee before allowing the holiday letting to continue.
He said his main residence was the ?650,000 Overton Vale Farm near Wrexham although he also stayed in Manchester during the week for work.
The former officer claimed the investigation into him was prompted by a series of complaints he had made against the force alleging ‘bullying, nepotism, cronyism among the upper echelons’ of the police’.
“I was a whistleblower,” he said.
GMP has asked Kent Police to investigate the allegations.
The force said the officer had ‘fallen below the accepted standards in relation to honesty and integrity’.
John Buttress was sacked because he had ‘fallen below standards of honesty and integrity’, say police bosses.
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: “The public rightly expect the highest professional standards from their police officers and these expectations are higher when they are senior officers. When we join policing we are aware of the responsibilities that come with the uniform.
“Chief Inspector Buttress has fallen below the accepted standards in relation to honesty and integrity and discreditable conduct in that he applied for a specific mortgage relating to a domestic dwelling when he was in fact renting out the farm house as a holiday rental. He also applied for two lots of single person’s discount from the council for council tax for the same period on two different properties when aware that he was only entitled to one.
“When such allegations emerge it is important that an investigation takes place and that was what was carried out. The decision of the hearing demonstrates that we will take action to ensure standards are adhered to and we maintain confidence in policing.
“The code of ethics clearly sets out the principles and standards of behaviour that are required for everyone who works in policing. We believed Ch Insp Buttress had a case to answer for gross misconduct in relation to breaching those standards which is why this was pursued. In the interest of transparency we felt that the evidence should be considered by an independent panel.
“This is the end of a process that began when the Crown Prosecution Service felt there was sufficient to take a criminal prosecution forward. Ch Insp Buttress may have been acquitted in a crown court where the burden of proof is beyond all reasonable doubt, the burden of proof for breaching the standards of professional behaviour is based on the lower threshold of a balance of probabilities.
“He has been dismissed from Greater Manchester Police with immediate effect.”