Great Britain

Police officer sacked for having sex with vulnerable women while on duty

A high-ranking policeman accused of abusing his authority to have sex with vulnerable women has been sacked.

Inspector Anthony Lumb's sexual partners included a victim of hate crime and an offender who had been issued with a caution, his disciplinary hearing was told.

A misconduct panel on Friday found that Mr Lumb - an officer with 27 years' experience with Sussex Police - was guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed him from the force.

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He had asked for the hearing to be held in private, which would mean details of the allegations would have been kept secret from the public, but his request was denied by the panel, the PA news agency understands.

Chairwoman Clare Harrington said: “We are without doubt that his conduct does amount to gross misconduct.

“His behaviour fell well below the standards which are rightly to be expected of officers generally and also those of his rank.

“The nature of the inspector's conduct and the damage to public confidence by such conduct is beyond question.”

The hearing was told how Mr Lumb engaged in sex while on duty.

The panel found accusations proven in respect of four of five women but did not find allegations over a witness of attempted arson to be proven on the balance of probabilities.

Addressing Mr Lumb's relationships with Nicola Brookes and another woman, Ms Harrington said: “It was readily apparent, and would have been so to Inspector Lumb, that these two women were vulnerable at the time of Inspector Lumb's relationships with them.

Nicola Brookes, above, was also victim of a stalker in 2018. She stands outside Brighton Magistrates court in 2018 after the accused, Nicky Wright, was jailed (PA Archive/PA Images)

“They both had significant health issues.”

Ms Brookes, 52, who has waived her right to anonymity, has Crohn's disease and met Mr Lumb after being the victim of a disability hate crime, the panel was told.

Mr Lumb was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office in March 2017.

However, prosecutors eventually decided there was not enough evidence against him - a decision criticised as “shocking” by Ms Brookes.

After the hearing Ms Brookes welcomed Mr Lumb's summary dismissal but said the fight goes on.

She told PA: “It has been a long, painful three years.

“I knew I was right. I feel like I was the one who has been on trial for three years. For me it goes on so I haven't got closure yet.”

She said she is pursuing a civil claim against Sussex Police.

She branded Mr Lumb a “coward” for not showing up to his hearing to face the allegations.

Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell, head of Sussex Police's professional standards department, said: “We expect the highest possible standards of our officers and staff and we take any report of inappropriate behaviour extremely seriously.

“Tony Lumb's behaviour is a violation of the trust that the public put in the police to serve and protect them.

“He has let down victims and his colleagues who carry out an enormous amount of good work with victims of serious offences every day.

“He has let down Sussex Police, the people of Sussex and vulnerable victims who must be able to trust those they turn to for help.

“Protecting vulnerable people is a key priority for Sussex Police and we have a responsibility to recognise abuse of power as a distinct area of corruption which deflects from the honourable work of our officers.

“For any member of the police service to pursue a sexual or improper relationship with a member of the public by using their role to gain an advantage is an abuse of their position and a form of serious corruption.”

Sussex Police has been embroiled in a string of sex scandals in recent years.

Last year former chief inspector Rob Leet and sergeant Sarah Porter, who met for sex while they were on duty, were dismissed from the force.

In 2018 former Brighton-based constable Alexander Walsh was handed a community order for stalking and common assault after unleashing a barrage of sexual propositions on a colleague when she was held in a patrol car with him for more than an hour after dark.

The former Metropolitan Police officer was spotted by fellow officers groping the woman on a work night out before badgering her with suggestive texts and taking pictures of her without her consent.

Earlier in the year a detective constable was caught selling himself for sex while on sick leave.

Richard Holder was sacked without notice for gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing but had already resigned.

This came after Hastings-based constable Daniel Moss was investigated and suspended from duty in December 2016 after he was caught advertising himself online as a male prostitute and offering to perform sex acts for cash.

He had been on sick leave since that September for stress.

He also failed to attend misconduct proceedings and was dismissed with immediate effect.

Sarah Green, director at the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “Police officers are in a unique position of trust and of necessity work closely with women at times when they are vulnerable.

“Mr Lumb's predatory conduct shames him and his force.

“This is by no means the first time a policeman has abused his position in this way. We need a strong message of zero tolerance of this behaviour from police leaders, easy ways to report it and clear sanctions.”

Press Association