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Cover-up claim over police chief Ian Learmonth’s role in lorry ‘killing’ probe

Ann Barnes and Ian Learmonth21 December 2013

Police chiefs have been accused of a cover-up as one of Britain’s most senior officers prepares to retire while secretly being investigated over an alleged conflict of interest.

Ian Learmonth, chief constable of Kent, was reported to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in July over a review of the police inquiry into the death of Lee Balkwell, who was found dead in a cement mixer lorry in 2002.

Mr Learmonth faces criticism for letting his officers in Kent investigate how Essex Police handled the case because he himself was working for the Essex force at the time of the original inquiry.

Neither Kent Police nor the force’s elected crime tsar, Ann Barnes, who referred the case to the IPCC, have made the complaint – by Mr Balkwell’s father, Les – public. Mr Learmonth announced he was retiring in October and will step down on January 3, before the probe begins.

Les Balkwell, who has campaigned relentlessly for justice for his son, said: ‘I made my complaint in June and, six months later, Ann Barnes has not even found an outside force to take on the investigation.

‘I am not surprised to see more attempts to cover up the truth about my son’s death. Mr Learmonth has questions to answer about his role in Essex. He should not have been allowed to retire.’

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