A police officer accused of injuring a cage fighter following a bar brawl in Eastbourne has had all allegations against him dropped.
PC Paul Bridger had been suspended from duty for more than two years following the incident in South Street – despite being acquitted in May 2017.
The 40-year-old officer from Polegate appeared before a disciplinary panel at Sussex Police HQ in Lewes today.
But after five hours the panel decided to dismiss all the allegations because of 'substantial' delays in the investigation.
PC Bridger had been based at Lewes at the time of the incident. He had faced five accusations that he had breached policing standards.
PC Bridger ‘relieved’ that the waiting is over and the allegations dropped
Following the hearing his solicitor Adam James said: “He’s obviously very relieved and very pleased it’s over.
“The fact the issues had been determined by a jury was made clear to the panel and dismissed.”
Acquitted at trial, but his PC buddy was convicted
A trial last year heard how PC Bridger and his friend PC Rob Rangeley had been in Maxims nightclub while off duty when Rangeley was pushed to the floor.
In the ensuing brawl the 33-year-old cage fighter sustained a head injury and was treated by paramedics at about 2am.
Rangeley was convicted of assaulting the man and received a suspended sentence,
However PC Bridger was found not guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, the only charge he faced.
‘Substantial’ delay contributed to dismissal of allegations
Victoria Goodfellow, chairman of today’s disciplinary panel, told the hearing that the first allegation – that PC Bridger was involved in an argument with a member of the public which resulted in them being injured – was the same as the allegation the jury had found him not guilty of.
She added: “In addition we find the delay in this matter was substantial when no further investigation was required after the conclusion of the trial.
“We recognise the likely impact on PC Bridger’s health and career.”
All five allegations against PC Bridger were dismissed.
His return from suspension will be considered by chief police officers, according to Sussex Police.
Superintendent Steve Boniface, head of Professional Standards Department, said: “We await the full rational of the panel, which we will fully consider along with the officer’s reinstatement from suspension.”
The Police Federation has been asked for comment.