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The ‘no-nonsense man of action’ who rose through ranks before being dismissed

Nick Adderley is awaiting a Crown Prosecution Service decision on whether he will face any criminal charges.

A publicity-hungry figure who was slapped down by politicians and ridiculed after threatening to search shopping baskets to enforce Covid rules, former chief constable Nick Adderley has offered his opinions about smart motorways, e-scooters and soft sentences for offenders.

Adderley, 57, who is now awaiting a Crown Prosecution Service decision on whether he will face criminal charges after he was found to have committed gross misconduct, also once claimed to have “built my own house” without contracting out any work.

He began his policing career, which ended abruptly on Friday because he wore a “110% fake” Falklands War medal and lied on his application to become chief constable for Northamptonshire Police in 2018, with Cheshire Police on February 17 1992, aged 25, remaining with the force for 18 years and reaching the rank of superintendent.

head and shoulders shot of former chief constable of Northamptonshire Police Nick Adderley
Nick Adderley pictured in 2019 (Jacob King/PA)

He moved to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in March 2010 on promotion to chief superintendent, and was heading up the force’s Tameside division when Dale Cregan murdered Police Constables Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in an ambush in September 2012 – something he said had a profound impact on him.

It also led to a friendship with Ms Bone’s father Bryn, who wrote a book about his daughter’s murder for which Adderley wrote a moving foreword.

Pictures published by GMP online show that Adderley appeared to be wearing a South Atlantic Medal, which is awarded to British civilians and military personnel who served in the Falklands War, at Pc Hughes’s funeral in October that year, despite him being just 15 when the conflict broke out.

An article in the Manchester Evening News published in 2011 claimed Adderley “rose up the ranks to lieutenant, serving on HMS Invincible, Hermes and Anglesey, during which he saw conflict in Haiti during the civil uprising of 1984”.

But during an interview with the Independent Office for Police Conduct last year, he said he never read articles about himself and the claims must have been the result of misreporting.

Adderley transferred to Staffordshire Police in January 2016 on promotion to assistant chief constable and applied to be chief constable of Northamptonshire Police in June 2018.

By the end of the month, Adderley had been announced as the preferred candidate for the role, with an impressive CV and application form detailing how he was a “former Commander” in the Royal Navy, who had been recognised for his “service as a military negotiator in Haiti” in 1986 and, in the “Education of note” section, that he had attended the prestigious Britannia Royal Naval College for four years.

He was given the job and the then-police and crime commissioner Stephen Mold said he was “entirely confident that Nick is the right person for the role” and that the force “need an individual who will rise to the challenge of delivering on the foundations already built and drive forward the successful outcomes we need to ensure we improve the overall performance of the police”.

Head shot of Nick Adderley
Nick Adderley during a press conference after a meeting with the parents of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn, who was killed when a car crashed into his motorbike in Northamptonshire (Jacob King/PA)

Adderley set about overhauling the under-performing force and won members of the public over with his outspoken “no-nonsense” attitude to policing which featured in regular media articles, and his active Twitter profile in which he regularly praised the dedication of his officers.

In one post on the now-deleted profile, Adderley offered to pay for his officers to wear the thin blue line badge out of his own money, after the Met banned them, saying: “I am determined never to allow a minority to twist the meaning of this patch, which risks the memory of fallen officers being driven into an abyss of hushed tones.”

In August 2019, Northamptonshire became the first force in the country to give frontline officers the choice to carry a Taser, saying at the time that “enough is enough” as officers faced “increasing levels of violence when they are deployed to incidents”.

As recently as August 2022, Adderley used a live public question-and-answer session on Facebook, reported by Northants Live, to give his views on TV cop dramas and “armchair critics” after four years as a chief constable.

Nick Adderley speaking to the media
Adderley speaking outside Northamptonshire Police HQ at Wootton Hall Park, Northampton about the death of Harry Dunn in August 2019 (Jacob King/PA)

During the hour-long event, Mr Adderley said: “As a chief constable, I want the public we serve to feel that I am approachable, accessible and willing to answer their questions directly.”

He added: “The armchair critics get a bit frustrating because I know how much that demoralises the officers that do an incredible job.”

He also made clear that he did not like “people unjustifiably slagging off my staff or the force” but insisted he had “a thick skin and it bounces off.”

Explaining what took his mind off policing, the senior officer told his audience: “I built my own house. And I don’t mean I contracted it out, I built my own house.”

In April 2020, the then home secretary was forced to dismiss a suggestion by Adderley that police were on the verge of checking supermarket trolleys, as “not appropriate”.

Adderley, who backtracked on his “clumsy” comments, had said his force would consider roadblocks, marshalling supermarkets, and searching through shopping baskets and trolleys if people continued to flout the rules.

Speaking at a press conference, he said: “If things don’t improve, and we don’t get the compliance we would expect, then the next stage will be road blocks and it will be stopping people to ask why they are going, where they’re going.

“This is about reasonableness and if people are not reasonable in terms of the journeys and the trips they are taking, they are going to fall foul of the law.

“We will not, at this stage, be setting up road blocks. We will not, at this stage, start to marshal supermarkets and checking the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it’s a legitimate, necessary item.

“But again, be under no illusion, if people do not heed the warnings and the pleas I’m making today, we will start to do that.”

The comments were described as “outrageous” by civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, which compared the measures with a “police state”.

According to an article in the Express in 2022, Adderley was even tipped as a possible replacement for Cressida Dick when she resigned from the Met as commissioner.

Callum Cowx, the chairman of the panel which found that Adderley had committed gross misconduct, said that he was “dismayed” to have had to preside over the case, as the top officer had a “genuinely fascinating success story to tell” but “something in Nick Adderley told him that wasn’t enough”.

Adderley had joined the Royal Navy on October 22 1984, aged 18 and left the Royal Navy on December 5 1986, aged 20, despite claiming on his CV he had served 10 years.

His rank when he was discharged for “shore medical reasons” was able seaman and he did not receive any medals or formal written commendations during his service, despite his claims.

Adderley said he had joined the Sea Cadets in 1976 at the age of 10 and was a senior leader cadet at the age of 15, when the Falklands War took place.

He described that as the “beginning of my leadership journey”, leaving the cadets at about the age of 17, and admitted he had “lumped in” his Sea Cadet membership with his Navy career on his CV.

What he did not mention on his CV was that between leaving the Navy and joining the police he had also spent time in several other careers, including time as an HGV driver, a pub landlord and an estate agent.

The misconduct panel said Adderley, who had become known as a “no-nonsense man of action” in his role at Northamptonshire, had “first dipped his toe” into lying when he started to wear the fake SAM but had become “more confident in spreading his lies” as the years went on.

Adderley will now have 10 days to decide whether or not to appeal against the decision of the misconduct hearing, in which he was dismissed without notice from his £177,000-a-year job, which he was still being paid since he was suspended in October 2023.

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