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Terror chief is guilty of gross misconduct over stolen papers.

Byline: ANDY RICHARDSON solihullnews@trinitymirror.com

A SENIOR counter-terror chief who left top secret documents in his car boot for days before they were stolen has been found guilty of gross misconduct.

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who led the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, was before a misconduct hearing at West Midlands Police HQ.

The final decision on Mr Beale's future rests with the force's Chief Constable Dave Thompson.

This week's hearing heard the documents were stolen from the counter-terror chief's unmarked Jaguar police car on May 15 last year.

On May 10, he had been handed a brown envelope bearing the warning 'Top Secret' and containing minutes from an executive liaison group meeting.

Mr Beale placed it in his briefcase, said Fiona Barton, representing West Midlands Police.

He then put the briefcase in the rear of his police car as he visited a pub with Alistair Sutherland, the Deputy Commissioner for City of London Police.

The car remained in a secure compound at the police station.

The briefcase was placed in the boot on his return but was then left in the vehicle for four days as he went on a trip to London with his wife, returning on May 13.

He discovered the briefcase missing on May 15 when he pulled up at Warwick Services.

"He was a long-serving officer and we accept this was a oneoff in an unblemished career," said Ms Barton.

"However, he was an Assistant Chief Constable, a high rank with onerous responsibility.

"He had highly sensitive information in the briefcase.," she added.

"He shouldn't have left it for four minutes, let alone four days.

"This could have been catastrophic. It is only a matter of luck that the documents haven't seen the light of day."

John Beggs QC, representing Mr Beale, said it had been an isolated incident.

"He is a police officer of outstanding calibre," he said.

"Why did he make such a mistake? "He does work in punishing circumstances, working long hours.

"Even the very finest humans make mistakes. In his role he has saved many lives regionally and nationally."

The court heard that Mr Beale, who has been suspended on full pay, will retire on April 6. In December, magistrates handed him a PS3,500 fine after he pleaded guilty to failing to safeguard information under the Official Secrets Act.

He had'hi' ghly sensitive information in the briefcase. He shouldn't have left it for four minutes, let alone four days. FIONA BARTON

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Publication:Solihull News (Solihull, Birmingham, England)
Date:Feb 16, 2018
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