For many months Alistair Lexden asked repeatedly about the long delay in starting proceedings in Cleveland at which the discredited former chief constable Mike Veale would be brought to book. An announcement that a hearing would take place was made in August 2021.
Suddenly on 16 June out of the blue a date for the hearing was fixed: 26 June in a local four-star hotel, a most unusual place for hearings of this kind. The Times reported on 23 June that “Lord Lexden, a Conservative peer who has been scrutinising the case, questioned the choice of venue given that it had taken two years for the case to be scheduled.” Was Veale going to be given special treatment?
In the event, justice was done. On 28 June Veale was found guilty of gross misconduct after a disciplinary panel concluded that he made lewd sexual remarks to female colleagues and others. In reporting the outcome on June 29, The Times reminded readers that Veale “was accused of a sex abuse witch-hunt against [Ted] Heath” when he was chief constable of Wiltshire. Moving to Cleveland in 2018, he “resigned after only ten months when the allegations of sexual remarks were made.”
One well-placed observer in Cleveland said to Alistair Lexden: “I can assure you that had it not been for your pursuit of justice, the case would have been quietly put to bed.”
Veale’s punishment has yet to be announced. He could well be placed on the barred list, which would block him from working for policing organisations again.
But there remains unfinished business. The discrediting of Veale must be followed by a proper independent review of the way he handled the allegations against Ted Heath. The House of Lords has not heard the last of Mike Veale.