Two Greater Manchester Police employees have won libel damages against The Sunday Telegraph over claims they benefitted from having sexual relationships with a former chief constable.
Cathy Butterworth, GMP’s former people and development director, and Christine Brereton, formerly head of HR, sued over an article from December 2012.
The article, headlined “New investigation into claims of corruption against Chief Constable found dead on Welsh mountainside”, was illustrated with pictures of both women and the late Chief Constable Michael Todd.
According to solicitor Jeremy Clake-Williams, the story alleged that they were among senior staff members who benefited from contracts providing for large redundancy packages. Both women left GMP in 2011.
The story also suggested that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that they were willing beneficiaries of corruption or cronyism on the part of Todd as a result of either having had an adulterous sexual relationship with him, or assisting him to conceal such relationships he had been conducting with one or more other women.
Clarke-Williams told Mr Justice Tugendhat in the High Court that the serious and defamatory allegations, which caused very significant damage, distress and embarrassment, were untrue and without foundation.
Todd played no part in the appointment process of either women or in the negotiation of their compromise agreements when they left.
Indeed, Brereton first applied for a job with GMP a month after Mr Todd died and she and Ms Butterworth left more than three years after that event.
Neither of the women had any sexual relationship with Todd or was involved in the concealment of any such relationships he might have had with others.
The terms of their employment contracts and compromise agreements were not unusual for senior managers, he added.
Telegraph Media Group publicly retracted the allegations, apologised unreservedly and agreed to pay each of the women undisclosed compensation and their legal costs.