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London - Sensitive files on more than 50 paedophiles and their victims ended up in a skip after being thrown out by a police sergeant’s mother-in-law, a disciplinary hearing was told.

Sergeant Martin Skirving-Chehab had left the documents in two Aldi bags with out-of-date tins of tuna and soup under his kitchen table.

His unsuspecting relative later threw the bags out with the rubbish. The papers were found 18 days later by a dog walker in the skip close to the officer’s home.

They contained addresses, phone numbers, bank details and car registration details on 55 child sex offenders, as well as information about victims – and were later handed to a national newspaper.

Skirving-Chehab, 42, who had taken the papers home from a police unit for managing sex offenders in Middlesbrough, was suspended by Cleveland Police. He denies gross misconduct, and told investigating officers it was ‘a complete fluke’ the papers had ended up in the skip.

The hearing was told offenders and victims were offered the chance to relocate and the incident resulted in seven complaints to the force.

Joan Smith, for Cleveland Police, told the hearing in Hartlepool that Skirving-Chehab had shown a ‘lackadaisical approach’ in dealing with the dossier.

She said: ‘One can only imagine the risk to property or life if this information had fallen into the hands of vigilantes.’

Miss Smith said the sergeant’s wife had alerted him to the fact the papers had been thrown out but he had ‘failed to act on the associated risks that that material had ended up outside of his property’.

The files had originally been found in the police unit by a detective chief inspector who asked Skirving-Chehab to either file them or dispose of them properly. Instead they were left at the sergeant’s house in Hartlepool for almost two months before they were thrown out in June last year.

Skirving-Chehab accepts responsibility for the documents ending up in the street but denies he acted unprofessionally, saying he does not believe they were stored ‘inappropriately’.

The incident is a fresh embarrassment for the Cleveland force, which has been branded the worst in the country.

A damning report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary earlier this year found Cleveland to be failing in every major aspect of its work – a first for any force in the country.

The hearing continues.

Daily Mail