A career imperilled by a petty complaint

What Rebekah Sutcliffe did was wrong. But should she really face the sack?


Surely a reprimand would suffice for Rebekah Sutcliffe?
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"Rank ineptitude" is the besetting sin of British life, says Matthew Parris in The Times. He's right. It's hard to know where to start, so let's start at the MOD: why do we buy helicopters that won't fly when it's cloudy? Or commission destroyers with engines that don't work in hot places? Then there's Westminster. "We've had substandard government for at least the last 20 years," a ministerial adviser said to me over lunch last week. Hard to argue with.

But the place where incompetence is most ingrained, and always has been, is the Metropolitan Police. I have long argued that the police force should learn from the army. The army trains its officers properly. Why not the police? Where is the police equivalent of Sandhurst? Answer: nowhere.

In the letters columns this week, a criminology lecturer writes that it is "well known in police circles that provided one is not caught doing anything criminal, no amount of ineptitude will serve as a bar to advancement in the service". Indeed, the reverse is often the case, with someone incompetent being promoted to another department or police agency to get them out of the way.

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So what, in the light of this, are we to make of the case of Rebekah Sutcliffe or "angry tits cop Rebekah Sutcliffe", as Camilla Long calls her in The Sunday Times? Sutcliffe, you will recall, is the assistant chief constable in Manchester who faced disciplinary proceedings after launching a tirade against another senior policewoman while sozzled at a party.

Sutcliffe's female subordinate, who had just had her breasts done, would now be judged professionally "on the size of her tits", said Sutcliffe, proceeding to show her own boobs, for the purposes of comparison, and continuing: "These are the breasts of someone who's had three children. They are ugly but I don't feel the need to pump myself full of silicone to get self-esteem."

"I love those lines," wrote Times columnist Kevin Maher. "They're like classic-era Gloria Steinem, and they seem to whirl around the complexities, compromises, self-doubt and defiance that signify women in power' today. And yet it's just not the kind of thing you say at parties. With your boobs out."

The Times itself was in no doubt. Senior police are always trying to protect their own, but a reprimand for Ms Sutcliffe isn't enough; she should be dismissed from her £109,000-a-year job when the final verdict in the case is rendered in the New Year.

I suppose this is right, but I'm not sure. Everything I read suggests Sutcliffe is a good policewoman and my guess is that she's probably better than most of the (male) top brass who surround her. This was a drunken incident at a party and shouldn't have happened. But should a career be wrecked because of it? "What a petty thing to launch an expensive complaint about," says Camilla Long.

"No one should have to deal with bare boobs at work, but Sutcliffe was wasted and only saying what everyone would have said behind the woman's back. What is a policewoman doing having a boob job anyway? Was she hoping for a second career as a strippergram?"

Will Satch's mortgage debacle is a "national disgrace"

It's a "national disgrace" that Olympic champion rower Will Satch can't get a mortgage, says The Sun's Kelvin MacKenzie. Satch has brought seven medals back to Britain, including a gold from Rio, and "much pleasure to TV millions". But due to Bank of England rules, the £28,000 tax-free a year income he receives (worth £37,000) in the form of a grant from UK Sport funded by the National Lottery isn't good enough for the 40 lenders he's approached.

Worse still, to buy his dream two-bed house in Watlington, Oxfordshire, for £190,000, he's had to go to his teacher mother who must be named on the loan. "As she already owns a property, it means her son has to pay an extra £5,600 in stamp duty as this is deemed a second home," says Mackenzie. "Will is a champion and should be treated like one."

Talking of hitting up mothers for cash, if you want something done, ask a working mum, says Karren Brady in The Sun on Sunday. They are "nothing short of incredible". "Women who work, if you think about it, are juggling two jobs and usually doing both brilliantly." It's just a shame that guilt usually comes as part of the package: "board meeting or nativity play?" So is anyone surprised by a survey by Oxfam that finds 67% of women feel they do the bulk of the housework compared with 18% of men? I guess that's partly because it's us who notice when the carpet needs vacuuming, says Brady. "But also some of us, women and men, haven't grown out of the idea that, traditionally, the domestic realm is women's work'."

I've often thought "a fistful of fivers probably contains more nutritional value than a few slivers of sushi or a plate of shaved radishes" served at London's astronomically priced restaurants, says the Daily Mail's Richard Littlejohn. Now it turns out the new plastic £5 notes contain animal fat, eating them "might not be such a bad idea".