A police officer who supported the family of a murder victim was having an affair with a solicitor representing one of the accused, a misconduct panel has heard.
Detective Constable Peter Surgay was a family liaison officer in the investigation into the murder of Clifford Collinge, who was killed in Warsop, Nottinghamshire, in October 2011.
The seasoned officer is alleged to have been involved in a sexual and ‘volatile’ on-off relationship with solicitor Deborah Bell since 2009 – with the affair kept secret as DC Surgay’s wife also served with Nottinghamshire Police.
Ms Bell went on to act as a solicitor for Stephen Shreeves – who was one of three accused of the murder of 61-year-old Mr Collinge and is now serving a life sentence after being found guilty in 2012.
DC Surgay is facing a misconduct panel accused of failing to report the nature of the relationship which it has been argued could have potentially compromised a major investigation.
The panel heard DC Surgay and Ms Bell went on holidays to California, Cornwall and Dublin together during their five-year fling, but the officer maintained it was a ‘platonic relationship’ save for a ‘drunken fumble’ early on.
Force solicitor David Ring said: ‘The case is that DC Surgay was involved in a high-level, high-profile serious case in which Ms Bell had a professional interest and DC Surgay wanted to keep the relationship secret.
‘It was a matter of absolute common sense that a person in a position of trust such as a family liaison officer - the person who in effect supports the family during what must be an unbelievably traumatic experience - has the trust of the family.’
Ms Bell told the panel at Nottinghamshire Police HQ that they met up ‘fairly regularly’ and that she was aware DC Surgay was married.
She ended the relationship with ‘no animosity’ in 2013 and said: ‘I did not feel there was any mileage in it so it just came to a natural conclusion.’
DC Surgay is also facing another allegation of gross misconduct for sending ‘utterly appalling’ text messages to Ms Bell after the breakdown of their relationship.
He is further accused of misusing police systems over ‘an extended period of time’ in searching for his own surname as well as crimes around the area he lived in Kimberley, Nottinghamshire. The hearing continues.
Alexander Britton, Press Association