From Barnard Fortress to Beergate: Durham police chief at centre of nationwide row once more | Police

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Her appointment made historical past as she grew to become Durham police’s first feminine chief constable.

However for a second time throughout her three-year tenure, Jo Farrell has discovered herself on the centre of a nationwide row over a police investigation that would have penalties for the UK’s political panorama.

Durham constabulary on Friday mentioned they might examine claims that Sir Keir Starmer broke lockdown guidelines after days of strain from Conservative MPs and a few new disclosures from right-leaning newspapers. Labour has mentioned it’ll cooperate with the inquiry.

In Might 2020, Farrell, 53, confronted comparable calls for to query Dominic Cummings after a Guardian and Mirror investigation disclosed that Boris Johnson’s then key adviser had damaged lockdown guidelines inside her power’s boundaries.

She didn’t authorise her officers to query Cummings over his 260-mile journey to Durham from London or a subsequent day trip to Barnard Fortress to “take a look at his eyesight”.

Amid a rising row over Cummings and the police’s response, stories claimed that Farrell was the topic of formal complaints from the general public offended on the power’s response to the allegations.

On the time, Durham police put out an announcement saying her power didn’t take retrospective motion on lockdown breaches. “Durham constabulary has not taken retrospective motion in opposition to another individual,” it mentioned.

In an interview with the Every day Mirror final month, Farrell acknowledged the massive strain on her throughout the Cummings furore, and mentioned the choice to not query Cummings throughout a three-day investigation was made according to her power’s intention to stay impartial.

“We’re apolitical, so it was my job to guarantee that there was a proportionate line. Had we stopped him when he was driving to Barnard Fortress, we might have informed him to show round and return.

“1000’s of individuals have misplaced their lives within the pandemic so, sure, we by no means took any of this frivolously. However we couldn’t be influenced by the massive political feeling about him as a person and his position inside the authorities,” she mentioned.

She informed the Mirror that the power handled Cummings’s televised press convention in Downing Road’s rose backyard as a witness assertion about his behaviour as an alternative. In Might 2021, Cummings admitted to MPs that he didn’t inform the entire reality within the rose backyard.

Farrell can now anticipate to be requested to clarify whether or not her power has caved in to political strain over the choice to open an inquiry into the “Beergate” claims in opposition to Starmer.

And as soon as once more, her power’s each transfer throughout the inquiry will likely be carefully scrutinised by politicians and the media.

Born in Wirral, Farrell and her household moved to Cambridgeshire when she was 15. After a level in enterprise at Sheffield Polytechnic, she joined the police as a constable in Cambridge in 1991 earlier than shifting to Northumbria police.

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There, she was in control of firearms on the night time that the largest manhunt in current legal historical past ended with the dying of the killer Raoul Moat, who shot himself when cornered by police.

She joined Durham constabulary in November 2016 and was appointed Chief Constable in June 2019, turning into the primary lady to carry the submit within the power’s 180-year historical past.

On a nationwide degree, she works on behalf of the Nationwide Police Chiefs Council within the areas of data administration and legal justice file high quality, and helps the Crimestoppers charity.

She is married to a retired police officer and has two stepsons and a daughter. Away from work, Farrell says she enjoys household life, cooking and maintaining match.

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