Sacked Bognor Regis policewoman cleared by top judge

A sacked policewoman from Bognor Regis has been cleared by a top judge after she was accused of being involved in the nightclub drugs scene.

Maria Evans, 23, was summarily dismissed by the chief constable of Sussex in September 2009 but the High Court has overturned a gross misconduct finding against her.

Mr Justice Burnett said at a hearing last Friday: “I will remit the matter for the chief constable for further consideration in respect of the disciplinary process.

“The finding of gross misconduct is quashed.”

The High Court ruling would ‘draw a line in the sand’, he stated.

Ms Evans, 23, had faced the disciplinary hearing over an incident at a Bognor nightclub on July 25, 2009. She was claimed to have pointed out a drug dealer to an undercover detective who was supplied with two grammes of cocaine.

Ms Evans, of Richmond Avenue, had been watched by plain clothes detectives because of concerns about her connections, Mr Justice Burnett said.

When interviewed later, she said she had no memory of the incident but insisted she hated drugs and would never have got involved with them.

“I love my job,” she had said. “I can’t express how much I hate drugs.”

She was later prosecuted for being knowingly concerned in supplying Class A drugs but was acquitted, the court head.

Ms Evans was also subject to a disciplinary hearing before the chief constable which resulted in her dismissal on a finding she had ‘facilitated the purchase of Class A drugs’.

The chief constable adopted a fast-track procedure and declined to hear her oral evidence.

Lawyers for Ms Evans claimed this approach breached her right to a fair hearing under Article Six of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Justice Burnett accepted that fairness required a full hearing.

Ms Evans’ lawyers also pointed out none of the recording devices worn by the five undercover officers who trailed her had worked to make it her word against that of the test purchase officer.

Mr Justice Burnett said the undercover officers’ account might have been undermined at a full hearing and Ms Evans should have had a chance to test the evidence against her.

He recognised the chief constable had to make a difficult decision. But he stated: “I am still satisfied that natural justice and the interests of fairness require she be given an opportunity to test the evidence against her in the full or ordinary procedure.”