LEGAL advice issued to David Keane before he brought forward the failed gross misconduct inquiry against Cheshire Police’s former chief constable will need to be protected through confidentiality agreements.

Labour’s Mr Keane, the county’s police and crime commissioner, was due to be grilled on why he pursued the gross misconduct hearing against Simon Byrne at today’s Cheshire police and crime panel meeting.

But the issue has been pushed back until next month.

The misconduct allegations against Mr Byrne were dismissed in December, however, the inquiry cost around £350,000.

The panel has received information regarding the costs involved, the chronology of events and the HR advice received to date.

But members were informed that they will be only be able to see the legal advice if they sign a confidentiality agreement.

Cheshire police and crime panel chairman Bob Fousert issued a statement on the issue to members during today’s meeting at Wyvern House in Winsford.

He said the panel is of the opinion that ‘it is not in the public interest for this matter to continue to drag on’.

“The panel is also of the opinion that it would not serve the scrutiny process well to undertake the process in a piecemeal fashion,” he added.

“Therefore, the panel is requesting that the commissioner sets aside a whole day on March 15, the date of the next panel meeting, in order that the scrutiny process can be carried out and, hopefully, completed.

“This will also allow time for the commissioner, if he so wishes, to prepare a statement in relation to questions that have been submitted to him by the panel.”

Members were due to discuss the issue privately after today’s first meeting was adjourned.

Evan Morris said members needed time to digest the ‘vitally important’ information on which Mr Keane took forward a ‘very serious’ issue.

But Cheshire West and Chester councillor Andrew Dawson raised concerns.

He said: “I understand, commissioner, that you want us to sign confidentiality non-disclosure agreements to view the legal advice.

“In my 12 years as a councillor, I have never been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement before.

“I have dealt with many confidential matters, such as fostering decisions.

“Why do you see it necessary to ask for this non-disclosure agreement in relation to the legal advice?”

Mr Keane, who is also a councillor for the Penketh and Cuerdley ward in Warrington, responded to Cllr Dawson.

He said: “I think that is an issue that the chair and the legal advisor are very aware of and might be best explaining to the panel, in your own time, in your own sense.”

The scrutiny session is due to be held on March 15.