A NATIONAL Crime Agency officer has been cleared of allegations of meeting with escorts while on duty and found not guilty.

Simon Gaffney, a former operational officer based in Warrington, was charged with two counts of misconduct in a public office following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

The 56-year-old, of Coalport Walk in Rainhill, St Helens, was accused of having been in contact with and meeting escort workers during working hours in October 2018.

The defendant always denied these charges, pleading not guilty in December 2021 and a trial date fixed for later this year.

But now – more than five years on – he has been acquitted after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped charges against him.

The case was listed before Liverpool Crown Court on Friday for a mention hearing, where prosecutor Alex Langhorn formally offered no evidence to two counts of misconduct in a public office.

This was accepted by a judge who found the defendant not guilty and discharged the case.

Allegations of misconduct were initially investigated by the NCA’s anti-corruption unit before being referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

This involved an alleged ‘abuse of the public's trust in the office holder by absenting himself from work in order to visit an escort or massage parlour’.

Mr Gaffney resigned from his post during the investigation and left the NCA in May 2019.

The IOPC’s investigation was the concluded in February 2020 and a file was passed to the CPS, which authorised the charges.

When approached by the Warrington Guardian and St Helens Star, a CPS spokesman said: “The CPS has a duty to keep all cases under continuous review.

“After consideration of the evidence, following the conclusion of misconduct proceedings relevant to the case, we decided not to proceed with the prosecution.

The case was heard before Liverpool Crown Court. Picture: PA

The case was heard before Liverpool Crown Court. Picture: PA

“At a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday, June 14, the prosecution offered no evidence on the two counts and the defendant was discharged.”

Catherine Bates, regional director for the IOPC, added: “We note the decision taken by the CPS not to proceed with the criminal case. This now brings the matter to an end.

“As Mr Gaffney retired in 2019 during the IOPC investigation, the relevant legislation does not allow for us to recommend disciplinary proceedings in this case.”

The IOPC commented that legislation currently in force means in most cases, former police officers can face proceedings for gross misconduct, and therefore potentially be barred from working in policing again.

However, as this legislation does not cover the NCA, it is unable to make a decision over whether the former officer should face disciplinary proceedings.

Having approached the NCA, a spokesman said: “Nevertheless, following the conclusion of judicial proceedings, the NCA will now consider disciplinary options in dialogue with partners.

“The CPS’s decision to discontinue the case relates to a prosecution witness, who was dismissed by the NCA for gross misconduct following a separate investigation.

“The NCA took that action after a thorough investigation by its Professional Standards Unit into claims the officer, a firearms trainer, had falsified records relating to firearms training between December 2021 and July 2022.

“The agency’s capacity to train firearms officers and respond operationally is not disrupted.”

Nigel Leary, deputy director of the NCA, said: “The NCA expects the highest standards of integrity and conduct from its officers.

“Our mission is to protect the public from serious and organised crime, and it is important that we do this with the support and confidence of the people we serve.

“To do this effectively it is essential that we root out misconduct and ensure we only ever have the right people working for us.”