Bob Fousert, hair of the Cheshire police and crime panel | Picture: Cheshire Standard
A chairman of Cheshire’s police watchdog is facing growing calls to resign following ‘outdated’ remarks about officers supporting LGBTI rights.
Bob Fousert, chair of the Cheshire police and crime panel, claimed it was political for the force’s deputy chief constable to don LGBT neckwear.
But in open letters from Cheshire’s Police Crime Commissioner (PCC) and a local councillor have urged for Forset to resign.
At a police and crime panel meeting on 14 June Fousert made the problematic comments.
He asserted that deputy chief constable Julie Cooke, who is also LGBTI lead of the force, ‘breached the duty of impartiality under the Police Regulations 2003.’
‘Whether you like it or not,’ Fousert said, ‘LGBT is a political issue.’
Several other blue light service workers chipped in to say they will continue to wear their rainbow lanyards.
‘Outdated and inappropriate.’
Following Fousert’s assertions, Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner, David Keane, penned a public letter calling for the chairperson’s resignation.
He dubbed Fousert’s views as ‘outdated and inappropriate.’
In addition, Keane wrote: ‘It’s clear that all public bodies have a duty to promote equality. I support the wearing of the rainbow lanyard and do not believe that this in any way represents either a “political issue” or an “issue of impartiality” in the way that Cheshire is policed.
‘It clearly represents a culture of openness, inclusivity and equality and I’m concerned that you do not recognise this and appear to have misinterpreted these matters.’
‘Disappointment, sadness, outrage’
Keane said he believed Fousert’s suggestion that Cooke should have been ‘subject to disciplinary action’ was ‘wholly inappropriate’ and ‘bought the panel into disrepute.’
Moreover, Keane continued that people that expressed ‘disappointment and sadness’ alongside ‘outrage’ regarding Fousert’s comments.
Thank Mark. It is incumbent on us to support all communities. I am the @PoliceChiefs lead for LGBT+ and I will continue to show my support for the LGBT+ community internally and externally. Visibility of my support is critical. My forthcoming blog will explain why…
— Julie Cooke (@DCCJulieCooke) June 14, 2019
Meanwhile, Cooke commented on Twitter that she will ‘continue to show’ her support ‘for the LGBT+community both internally and externally. Visibility of my support is critical.’
‘Not a political statement; it is a legal obligation’
Doubling down on the calls in a public letter, local councillor Anthony Critchley called for Fousert to step down.
I have today written an open letter to the Chair of Cheshire Police & Crime Panel, Bob Fousert, asking him to resign.
— Ant Critchley (@AntCritchley) June 17, 2019
Moreover, wrote that the lanyards are ‘not a political statement; it is a legal obligation.’
Before adding that: ‘At a time when it is being reported that homophobic and transphobic hate crime has more than doubled over five years […] we believe that it is now more important than ever that our Police Service takes seriously its obligation to the LGBT community.
Furthermore, Gay Star News reached out to Cheshire Police for comment, but they declined.
In a letter shown to Gay Star News by the chairperson himself, Fousert wrote to the commissioner to explain his choice of words.
‘This was not and never was intended to be an attack upon the LGBT community and I
am sorry that it has been made to seem that way.’
When discussing the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, he wrote: ‘However, I believe that it should not and must never be allowed to create a situation or perception where police impartiality, the bedrock of policing, is being eroded by being seen to favouring one section of the community over another.’
He concluded by asserting he has ‘no intention’ of resigning’ and will continue to work for the remainder of the commissioner’s tenure.
Within local police forces in the UK, a police and crime commissioner is an elected official responsible for running a patch of police area.
While a police and crime panel scrutinises their actions. Panellists are mainly local councillors.