The appointment of Hertfordshire’s recently departed deputy police crime commissioner has been referred to a police watchdog, the Watford Observer can reveal.
Dr Rachel Frosh, who resigned her £20,000 two-day a week role after widespread criticism of her decision to retweet a picture and quote from Adolf Hitler, had allegedly not been formally approved when she started work prompting a member of the public to alert the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
A Freedom of Information request by businessman Mark Ryan showed Dr Frosh started work as David Lloyd’s deputy on the morning of December 6 but wasn’t approved by the Police and Crime Panel until a meeting that evening.
Mr Ryan complained to the panel but a leaked email shows chairman Ray Hannam told other councillors on January 18 he had "no reason to doubt the validity of our procedures" so would not discuss the complaint in a public forum unless he was convinced otherwise.
After learning of this Mr Ryan referred the matter to both the IPCC and the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).
During a heated confrontation at last Thursday’s (February 14) Police and Crime Panel meeting in Rickmansworth Mr Ryan attempted to address Mr Hannam about his complaint but was repeatedly interrupted and was denied an answer by the chairman.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Ryan said: "I do not know Rachel Frosh and have nothing against her but I was concerned about the procedural requirements of putting a deputy into the post.
"As far as I can see that procedure has been stonewalled.
"At the meeting I tried to take the opportunity to ask questions about my complaint but I was told I wasn’t allowed.
"He denied telling the panel members not to discuss it so I was equally disappointed none of the panel members corrected the chairman or came to my defence.
"My complaint was my complaint and until they have investigated it I don’t think they can say they haven’t done anything wrong."
Neither Mr Lloyd nor Mr Hannam could be reached for comment but in a letter to the complainant Andrew White, chief executive in the PCC’s office defended the procedure.
He said: "The Commissioner was convinced that for this appointment was correct and that there was little prospect of challenge from the panel.
"The Deputy Commissioner is the only appointment in his gift where the selected person is not politically restricted and there is no requirement to have a formal selection process to find the suitable person.
"This view was also reflected by the panel when they considered the matter on that evening.
"The Commissioner did provide the panel with a report setting out why he believed that Dr Frosh was a suitable candidate for this role.
"The panel made clear at the meeting that it had no objections to this appointment and this has subsequently been confirmed in the minutes of the meeting."
Dr Frosh, who was suspended from the Conservative Party candidate list following her resignation, stressed that the "lazy retweet" on microblogging site Twitter was not an endorsement of the message, which read "Dear Socialists embrace your inner Nazism".
A spokesman for the IPCC confirmed a letter of complaint had been received and the matter was being looked into but said the organisation was only likely to intervene if a member of the panel had acted in a criminal manner.