A MURDER squad detective forced to resign over alleged misconduct in the Charlene Downes investigation has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Former Det Sgt Janet Beasant was told she had to resign following a disciplinary hearing which deemed her conduct “fell below” the standard expected during the probe into the Blackpool schoolgirl’s disappearance.
But a tribunal has now cleared her name.
Ms Beasant’s Police Federation representative today said the officer had been made a “scapegoat” for the failed murder inquiry which was heavily criticised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Ms Beasant could in theory now re-join Lancashire Police.
A spokesman for the former detective said: “Jan Beasant is very happy with the outcome, and would like to personally thank her family, her two closest friends and her legal team for the continuing support throughout this difficult time. She believed in her innocence throughout this five-year ordeal, and today, it took the first panel, independent of the police, to dismiss all charges.”
Former Det Sgt Beasant was assigned the job of transcribing covertly recorded conversations between two suspects after 14-year-old Charlene, a pupil at St George’s High School, went missing in November 2003. She has never been found.
One man was later charged with murdering the teenager and the other disposing of her body.
Part of the evidence used was police believed the defendants could be heard boasting Charlene had been ‘chopped up’ and put into a mincing machine.
But the jury failed to reach a verdict in 2007 and a re-trial collapsed when prosecutors withdrew the charges and the judge ordered not guilty verdicts be returned on both defendants.
Ms Beasant was put before an independent panel during a two-week internal hearing in December last year.
She was found guilty of two counts of misconduct regarding honesty and integrity.
Lancashire Police said the officer’s conduct had fallen “well short” of the professional standards they expect and she was asked to resign.
It is believed the matter centres on the gathering of evidence, but this has never been confirmed by Lancashire Police.
When Ms Beasant appealed, the decision was reviewed by a chief constable from outside Lancashire, who upheld the requirement to resign.
But now a Police Arbitration Tribunal has overturned the force’s decision and ruled she should be reinstated.
Jim Halstead, who was Ms Beasant’s Police Federation representative before retiring a year ago, said: “She was to be the scapegoat and the inquiry was conducted along those lines. Time after time in interview we pointed out clear lines of inquiry which would have supported Det Sgt Beasant’s version of events.
“I am delighted that, at last, the truth has come out. I wish Det Sgt Beasant all the best for the future. It has been, to say the least, a difficult few years for her, but she has come through it with great dignity and fortitude. I am delighted for her that her reputation has been restored.”
Charlene’s parents, Karen and Robert Downes, said they “never questioned Ms Beasant’s integrity”.
Mrs Downes (above), of George Street, Blackpool, said: “I was disgusted when I heard she was having to leave her job. I had a lot of respect for Jan.
“Hopefully this will now open some doors for us – it might throw up something new in the investigation which can help us get some closure. That would help us.”
Lancashire Police’s head of professional standards Supt Simon Giles said: “We respect the decision of the tribunal panel and we are awaiting the written rationale of the panel and we will then consider the findings in detail.
“I would like to reiterate that we expect all our officers and staff to display the highest standards of professional conduct at all times.”