Was David Ainsworth driven to suicide?

Did DVPO supremo, Brian Moore, allow his deputy to be hounded to suicide?

MRA London has a new member – Agent Kildare! Here, in his debut article, he uncovers the shocking story behind the suicide of David Ainsworth, the UK Police Deputy of Wiltshire. This man had so little human worth, that even at the inquest of his death, police union officials were concerned only with congratulating themselves over their hard work in protecting the “real victims” in this tragedy. Ed (MRAL)

A recent article on MRA London highlighted a 2009 report by ACPO – the UK Association of Chief Police Officers, ‘Tackling Violence against Women and Girls’ (1).

The report outlines the strategy which resulted in the current trials in the UK of Domestic Violence Protection Orders.

The report’s author was Brian Moore, at the time the Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police. He was supported by a steering group weighted towards women (75%) and representatives from women’s support projects such as Refuge and Women’s Aid.

Among the recommendations in the report is that a new crime be established of ‘Causing Suicide by Abuse’. The report states that this offence should be targeted exclusively at ‘abusive men’ who initiate ‘a course of action which played a significant and causal role in the suicide”.

In 2011, while Moore was Chief Executive of Wiltshire Police, his deputy David Ainsworth committed suicide.

A widely-respected expert on vehicle crime, Ainsworth had spent several months under investigation after official complaints had been made in late 2010 about a number of what his girlfriend, Joanna Howes, described as ‘petty’ allegations of sexist remarks to female colleagues.

The report of the investigation into the alleged remarks has never been publically released. However the police authority confirmed there were a total of 26 complaints, from 13 women, seven of whom are on one team. The latter group are believed to have made a joint complaint about a single remark by Mr Ainsworth. This consisted of Mr Ainsworth looking at a woman in a tailored blouse and saying ‘nice buttons’. All the remarks were described as ‘minor’.

Over time Ainsworth, who was initially ‘bullish’ about the ‘absurd’ allegations, became increasingly despondent and distressed, telling friends that the force had ‘abandoned’ him and that he was the victim of a ‘witch-hunt’.

Ms Howes said the force “systematically poisoned” everyone against her partner and denied he was guilty of sexual harassment of women (2).

After the Coroner’s inquest in June 2012, Mr Ainsworth’s father Stanley spoke to reporters: “I don’t feel he was treated well,” Mr Ainsworth said.

“I don’t think anyone seemed to notice his physical deterioration. When I saw him 10 days before he died, I was shocked by how he had changed in his attitude and his appearance. If nobody on the police side could see that they must have been looking in a different place. If someone is that ill, mentally and physically, and showing all the signs, somebody on the police side should have done more about it.”

No claims against Mr Ainsworth were ever substantiated. Despite this, two women; Susan Leffers, head of justice, and Zoe Durrant, head of human resources, received substantial payouts from the force following his death.

A UNISON spokesperson, Ben Priestley, described them as the real victims of the affair: “the women who were subjected to sexual harassment by Mr Ainsworth were badly let down by the police service and the way it responds to unacceptable behaviour in the workplace.

“We are calling for all parties involved in the case to explore ways to ensure that the police service becomes a more welcoming and inclusive place to work. The service is currently male dominated with 75% of police officers being male, while women make up 65% of police staff…inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment from whatever quarter [should be] dealt with seriously and speedily. The service cannot afford to deter talented women from joining.” (3)

Ms Howes described the UNISON remarks as ‘disrespectful’ and ‘inaccurate’. However at the inquest into Mr Ainsworth’s death, the Coroner refused to extend the remit of the trial to examine the causes of Mr Ainsworth’s suicide, saying he was satisfied the cause was simply that Mr Ainsworth was ‘depressed’.

Wiltshire is now a pilot area for Mr Moore’s DVPOs. Mr Moore left the force in March 2012 to run the UK Border Force on an interim basis. A report into the affair by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in September 2012 noted that “a number of women we interviewed felt they had wrongly been categorised as complainants, when they didn’t in fact wish to make a complaint at all.”

Mr Ainsworth said his son did not know until five months after the investigation started the detail of the allegations he faced; “He didn’t know until his very last moments what people were saying about him. When he told the force he was thinking of suicide, he was told not to be silly.

“My David wasn’t a man who would commit sexual harassment, he wouldn’t do that.

He was a good man.

This article was first published on MRA London.


(1) http://www.acpo.police.uk/documents/crime/2009/200909CRIVAW01.pdf

(2) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/pariah-police-chief-took-own-life-rules-coroner-7848160.html

(3) http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2718

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