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Secret papers police officer committed gross misconduct

A senior counter terrorism officer with West Midlands Police is facing possible dismissal for leaving top secret papers in the boot of his car.

The highly classified documents were stolen from Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale’s unmarked car in May.

A force disciplinary panel has found him guilty of gross misconduct.

In December Mr Beale, who is due to retire in April, pleaded guilty to failing to safeguard information under the Official Secrets Act.

Magistrates fined him £3,500 and he has been suspended on full pay since November.

The panel heard several classified documents – including top secret minutes of a meeting of the Executive Liaison Group (which passes on intelligence of major covert terror plots to police forces) – were placed in a metal briefcase in the boot of Mr Beale’s car on 10 May.

His car was then parked in several different locations over five days, including at a railway station and a supermarket.

Mr Beale only realised the briefcase was gone on 15 May. The panel chair noted that the whereabouts of the secret papers remains a “mystery”.

Defending Mr Beale, John Beggs QC argued it was an “isolated act, wholly out of character” and urged the panel to take his 30-year career into account.

He summarised 98 testimonials given in support of Mr Beale, a man who “has helped stop people being murdered and maimed” and referred to cases where terror plots were foiled as being partly down to his leadership.

The panel will make recommendations to the chief constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, on the action to be taken against Mr Beale, which could include dismissal.

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