Inspector 'used police information to accuse man of racism online'

Inspector 'used police information to accuse man of racism online'

Police inspector accused pensioner of being racist on Facebook then forged spreadsheet to falsely claim he was in the BNP in bid to ‘dig himself out of a hole’, tribunal hears

  • Inspector Mark Doherty allegedly used his force’s ‘Niche’ system for information
  • Panel heard how he found racism claims against former police officer Alan Hardy
  • Doherty then alleged to have shared the claims – which Mr Hardy denies – online 
  • Mr Hardy is then said to have reported the Facebook conversation to the force
  • It is alleged Doherty tried to forge a BNP membership document to cover tracks
  • Doherty denies breaching professional standards and preparing false document 

A police inspector who used information from his force’s computer system to accuse a pensioner of being racist on Facebook tried to cover his own tracks by falsely painting him as a BNP member, a disciplinary panel today heard.

Inspector Mark Doherty allegedly used Cleveland Police’s ‘Niche’ computer system to glean information about retired officer Alan Hardy.

He is said to have found a record stating that Mr Hardy had resigned from Bedfordshire Police to avoid being dismissed and that he held ‘extremely racist views’.

It is claimed that he then shared the allegation – which Mr Hardy denies – in a Facebook conversation with another man.

Mr Hardy, who became aware of the conversation, is said to have reported it to the police, sparking officers to question Doherty.

It is alleged that, in a bid to cover his tracks, Doherty then falsified a Wikileaks document of members of the extreme right British National Party (BNP) to include Mr Hardy’s name and address.

But a disciplinary hearing heard he was caught out by investigating officers who said he had ‘not done a very good job at preparing the false document’.

Doherty denies breaching the standards of professional behaviour and passing on restricted information and is currently taking part in a disciplinary hearing.  


Inspector Mark Doherty allegedly used Cleveland Police’s ‘Niche’ computer system to glean information about retired officer Alan Hardy. He alleged found a record stating that Mr Hardy had resigned from Bedfordshire Police to avoid being dismissed and that he held ‘extremely racist views’. It is claimed that he then shared the allegation – which Mr Hardy denies – in a Facebook conversation with another man.

The disciplinary panel heard that Doherty arrested Mr Hardy in 2015 at Stockton police station.

He described Mr Hardy, a former officer, as acting ‘like a mad dog’ and said the arrest – over a matter which has not been divulged to the hearing – was a proportionate response.

However Mr Hardy launched a civil action against the Chief Constable of Cleveland Police claiming the arrest was unlawful.   

The matter was destined to be heard in County Court and Inspector Doherty would have been a key witness in the case.

The hearing heard that in September 2018, in the middle of a civil case between Mr Hardy and his force, Doherty accessed police computer systems to find intelligence information on him.

Doherty, who was in regular contact about proceedings with the force lawyer, searched for around half an hour on the police Niche computer system for any intelligence records on Mr Hardy, the panel heard.

During the search he is said to have discovered a record stating Mr Hardy had resigned from Bedfordshire Police to avoid being dismissed and that he held ‘extremely racist views’ – a claim Mr Hardy denies.

Doherty is then alleged to have repeated that information in a Facebook conversation he had with another man two months later.

Doherty (pictured), who was in regular contact about proceedings with the force lawyer, searched for around half an hour on the police Niche computer system for any intelligence records on Mr Hardy, the panel heard

In his posts Doherty is said to have written: ‘You know he is an ex cop who got booted from Bedfordshire Police for being racist? That is not police info, that is an FOI request.’

The disciplinary panel heard how Mr Hardy was furious when he discovered the conversation and made a formal complaint about the inspector.

But it is claimed that, in a bid to clear his name, Doherty produced a spreadsheet which he said he had found on Wikileaks by searching the ‘deep web’.

On it were the names of BNP members, their addresses and occupations – with Mr Hardy’s details appearing in the list.

But investigating officers with Cleveland’s professional standards unit discovered Inspector Doherty had hamfistedly added the name himself, the hearing was told.

Stephen Morley, representing Cleveland Police told the hearing: ‘He came a cropper because he has not done a very good job of preparing that false document.’

The rows of the spreadsheet did not line up, inverted commas on the faked entry were missing and Inspector Doherty added an address for Mr Hardy that he did not live at when the spreadsheet was produced, the hearing was told.

Panel members were told how the alleged deceit was considered so serious that he was arrested, his home searched and electronic equipment seized.

He could not explain how he came by the spreadsheet, and allegedly claimed he had shredded and burnt the hard copy in a burner in his garden and had deleted the electronic version of it from a USB stick.

Mr Morley told the panel: ‘This is an experienced police officer who understands the importance of preserving evidence.

‘But he says he burnt the hard copy of this spreadsheet in his garden and somehow deleted or lost the electronic copy from a USB stick. Why?

‘These are not the actions of an honest officer, but a dishonest officer trying to hide the creation of a false document.

‘He has tried to dig himself out of a hole. The only explanation, we say, is that he thought it was a good wheeze to get himself out of the investigation he was under.

‘We say that is the most likely explanation on the balance of probabilities, there is no other sensible explanation.’

Mr Hardy asked to give evidence to the hearing but the panel decided his testimony was not necessary.

Investigating officers with Cleveland’s (pictured: Library image of Cleveland Police’s headquarters) professional standards unit discovered Inspector Doherty had hamfistedly added the name himself, the hearing was told

He strongly denies being a racist and that he resigned to avoid being dismissed, stating he did so because he was disillusioned with the force. 

Inspector Doherty denies breaching the standards of professional behaviour in respect of authority, respect and courtesy, confidentiality, orders and instructions and discreditable conduct.

He denies the two charges of passing on restricted information and presenting an altered document to standards and ethics investigators from his own force.

The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday. MailOnline has contacted Cleveland Police for a comment. 

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