What went wrong with the promotion process?

The recent inquest into how high flying Greater Manchester Chief Constable Mike Todd’s life ended with excessive alcohol and exposure on Snowdon’s summit raises the question (still to be answered) of how was he ever promoted to that high rank in the first place. The litany of mistresses and wild living must surely have made him a huge security risk because his rank would have secured him automatic entry to “COBRA”, the cabinet office’s security high command, always launched when terrorist or other security breaches occur.Even as chief constable, he was soon starting yet another affair on his own doorstep with a high flying married Manchester business woman which lasted three years. The Daily Telegraph really dishes the dirt by describing alleged affairs and his nickname. “Hot Toddy”, who, amongst the many; made advances to a female journalist and a young Greater Manchester recruit. He was a fast track officer. Essex as a bobby with a good degree in 1976, promoted to assistant chief constable, Nottingham 1995, then on to Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Met in 1998, picking up a Queens Police medal in 2001. Onwards and upwards then to the pinnacle of his chosen career in 2002, when he took charge of the third largest force in the United Kingdom. Held in high esteem by colleagues, he became a Vice Chairman of the Association of Chief Constable in 2006. In a tribute led by the Home Secretary, after his death in March this year, his long and distinguished career was praised. Politicians tipped him as a future Commissioner!

To have moved through THREE senior ACPO ranks, Mike Todd would have required Home Office’s seal of approval, not once but on all these promotions including the big chief constable appointment. Unless the system has changed since my own failure to find a way “up the Greasy Pole”, he would not have been ‘shortlisted’ (thus allowing him to be called for interview with the appointing force) if not backed by his senior officers, an HMI and finally Home Office. His career in the Metropolitan Police was clearly not free from steamy affairs, one with a junior officer who was so distressed over unfair behaviour by the force, commenced an Industrial action which she grudgingly withdrew to give him a clear run for his Greater Manchester promotion and spare the great commander’s blushes.

He was unknown to me until a Flintshire councillor sought my help when I was the Assembly member for Delyn. Deeply upset, she poured out a nasty little tale of how her police constable son in the Met. Police, had fallen foul of Michael Todd who had taken a shine to his partner. It ended in tears when Jonathon was sacked for drunk driving, a serious but not an automatic dismissal offence. Despite Jonathon and his partner sharing a house and producing a child, my Cllr. friend firmly believed that Todd had bust up the relationship in a ménage a trois. It was suggested that he authorised the sacking and, with the Opposition out of the way, then moved in to Jonathon’s bed. Karin produced compelling documents to support her case and I appealed to the Metropolitan Police Authority for help. Even the Merseyside Police Federation fought Jonathon’s case and felt that he had been poorly served by his bosses. Despite the Federation’s best efforts, his re-instatement was refused. Shortly after, Mr T took command of GMP in a blaze of glory and congratulations.

My attempted promotion to deputy in Northamptonshire in 1990 failed as Home Office refused to “shortlist” me. I was not shortlisted on eight other occasions which led to my industrial Tribunal in 1990 where I claimed sexual discrimination. The story was told in “No Way up the Greasy Pole” and for the first time women were allowed to be promoted to the rank of chief constable. The law on phone tapping was changed after I went on to win a ‘bugging’ case against the now Sir James Sharples, the then chief constable of my former force, Merseyside, and Home Office.

I am not speaking ill of the dead, I am making a serious point that despite an impeccable career in the Met and then as an assistant chief constable in Merseyside, (being the first woman to have achieved this rank, thus making me the highest serving woman officer in the UK, promotion was withheld and my career ended ignominiously. An indiscrete dip in a pool, (in my legal circumstances), when I had started my industrial tribunal led to my suspension and a vicious battle to remove me though which discipline failed only with the help of wise judges, good lawyers and scary judicial reviews.

No Queens Police medal was ever awarded to me. I wrote to Buck House in a moment of mischief and asked why not and why was this prestigious award being given to rogues and knaves in the police? I knew a couple who had been thus honoured but I had not heard of Mr Todd QPM then!). The Palace replied,

‘Nothing to do with HM, No. 10 makes the recommendations!’

Although GMP’s web site offers pen picture of its senior officers, Todd’s profile has been removed although condolences link is still on view. The epithets are fulsome. It’s sad that a very capable, well regarded officer could not control his sexual appetites and his death was so tragic. Now ACPO is raising questions about his death. It beggars belief that his “Achilles Heel” was not known to his superiors. Even the tenacious Daily Telegraph has only reported the tip of the iceberg in Mr Todd’s torturous love affairs.

In the Police service, men and women are judged by different standards resulting in discrimination and unjustified promotions. The destructive “keep stum and promote / to get rid” policy is applied all too often. No sour grapes again but I lost the Merseyside Deputy’s promotion all those years ago to the best mate of the chief constable who got his QPM of course. He was a nice chap but very inexperienced and struggled with the deputy’s job. Once retired, he took heavily to booze and ended over the limit in a ditch with a conviction to follow. Stress of trying to cope beyond his capacity, maybe?

The photographic tribute on the GMP web site depicts a chief constable’s heavily braided cap placed beside two snow white Madonna lilies was ironic. The eagerly awaited report on police leadership by chief constable of West Midlands should make interesting reading. I can’t blame Mike Todd; he put himself up and fools accepted him despite his weaknesses. I blame the promotion system that throws up maverick appointments. No more floral bouquets are needed for the dropped commander. Just an honest assessment on why the appointment was so wrong.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.