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10 August 2016, 18:30
A Nottinghamshire police officer who supported the family of a murder victim while having an affair with a solicitor representing one of the accused has been sacked.
Detective Constable Peter Surgay was a family liaison officer in the investigation into the murder of Clifford Collinge, who died after suffering 46 injuries in a brutal attack at his home in Warsop, Nottinghamshire, in October 2011.
A misconduct panel heard the officer had been in a sexual and ``volatile'' on-off relationship with solicitor Deborah Bell since 2009 - with the affair kept secret as Det Con Surgay's wife also served with Nottinghamshire Police.
Ms Bell went on to act as a solicitor for Stephen Shreeves - who was one of three people accused of the murder of 61-year-old Mr Collinge and is now serving a life sentence after being found guilty in 2012.
A two-day hearing at Nottinghamshire Police headquarters heard Det Con Surgay, 42, failed to report the nature of the relationship, which it had been argued could have potentially compromised a major investigation.
During the hearing, Det Con Surgay sought to downplay the relationship - which saw him and Ms Bell travel abroad to California, Dublin and Germany - and claimed it was ``platonic'' except for a ``drunken fumble'' early on.
But chairman of the panel Delroy Henry said the officer was ``evasive in important aspects'' of his evidence.
He said: ``Det Con Surgay knew there was potential compromise or conflict of interest.
``It is the covert nature of the relationship and the desire to keep it such which is the potential compromise or conflict of interest ... at the heart of these matters.''
He added that it was ``common sense'' that the officer should have informed senior colleagues about the relationship, which would have seen him removed from the Clifford Collinge case had it come to light.
Richard Wormald, representing Det Con Surgay, argued the offences were at the lower end of the spectrum and said the offences had caused ``no harm''.
``Is this really a case which deserves instant dismissal?'' he said.
Det Con Surgay was also accused of misusing police computers, including accessing records of an incident where a car registered in his name was reported for making off from a petrol station without paying - known as bilking - with the incident resolved after he viewed the entry.
But in ruling that both allegations of gross misconduct were proven, Mr Henry said: ``His dishonourable conduct is serious.
``We are not looking at a single allegation but two, and what we are looking at here was a course of conduct not for one day, for one week, but years.
``A failure to be open and honest is clear - his conduct was so serious as to warrant dismissal.''