26.11.06
19:51
By: Neil Fawcett
While there are known divorce law and employment law risks associated with bonking in the workplace, consenting adult participants don't usually expect to end up "assisting the police with their enquiries". However, retired police officer Alistair Watson thinks that, in some case, the police should try to get to the bottom of such incidents. He has asked them to investigate whether a Mr. John Prescott and a Ms Tracy Temple committed the criminal offence of "Misconduct in Public Office" by having (if indeed they did have) sexual relations in an office in Whitehall when they were supposed to be doing something else.

Misconduct in Public Office is a common law offence with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It does not come up very often and when there is a prosecution it is more often than not against a police officer. Typically, a case will be about misuse of information from police computer systems. There have also been cases of police officers prosecuted for having sexual intercourse while on duty. That appears to be Mr Watson's point. His letter of complaint mentions a former Manchester police officer who was given a community sentence for four offences. Three related to having sexual intercourse with a woman at her home, while he was on duty and one related to misuse of confidential information. If it is misconduct in the office of Constable to neglect duty in favour of sex is it not equal or greater misconduct to do the same in the office of Deputy Prime Minister? The point might have been stronger if the case against the constable was only about the sex and not also about misuse of information. It is also impossible to make a realistic comparison between one case and another without knowing what specific duty (if any) was neglected.

The Metropolitan Police are reported to be considering their response - no doubt in consultation with CPS. CPS published guidance says, "A charge of misconduct in public office should be reserved for cases of serious misconduct or deliberate failure to perform a duty which is likely to injure the public interest." Somehow, it seems unlikely that the police will make an arrest any time soon.

Fawcett & Pattni Solicitors at http://fp-law.com Links