A misconduct hearing for three senior Gwent Police officers is set to run into the summer, it has been revealed.

Earlier this month (April 7), the hearing into the conduct of chief superintendent Marc Budden, chief superintendent Mark Warrender and chief inspector Paul Staniforth began.

All three face allegations of gross misconduct – which they all deny.

Today, Gwent Police has confirmed that the hearing is set to run well into the summer –  due to “the availability of the legal representatives in this complex case”.

It leaves the public waiting a number of months for answers, after the controversial decision was made to hold the misconduct hearing behind closed doors.

The proceedings, which are being held at Avon and Somerset Police headquarters in Bristol, are being held in private, with the press and members of the public banned from attending.

At this time, the only information which has been made available by the force is news that the hearing “started in line with date listed on the notice of hearing and is ongoing in line with the planned schedule”.

The outcome of the hearing is set to be published up to five working days after the hearing concludes.

What have police said?

In an update today (Tuesday, April 26), a Gwent Police spokesman told the Argus: “The hearing started in line with date listed on the notice of hearing and is ongoing in line with the planned schedule.

“The availability of the legal representatives in this complex case means that we do not expect the hearing to conclude until later this summer.

“The timetabling of the hearing lies with the legally-qualified chair, whose outcome must be published up to five working days of the hearing finishing.”

Why is the hearing being held in secret?

News that the misconduct hearing would be held behind closed doors was met with some criticism, including from the Argus.

The misconduct panel said that the decision was because the hearing involved allegations of a sexual offence and to protect the rights of witnesses.

It means the only details of the hearing that will be made public are a written summary of the allegations and - at the end of the hearing - a written report of the outcome.

When news that the hearing would be held in private was made, Argus editor Gavin Thompson wrote: “This is not a criminal hearing. The Crown Prosecution Service brought no charges against the officers. But failing to follow the principle of open justice gives the impression of cover up. It makes the public feel that the force is either protecting 'its own' who are alleged to have done wrong, or hiding its culture and practices from scrutiny.

“But the culture within our police force is crucial. The current leadership of Gwent Police may well have acted with good intentions in calling for a private hearing. But how do we know if such hearings are held behind closed doors? We can't just take it on trust. The job of the police is too important for that.

“Of course we need to protect the victims in a case such as this, but we need to maintain transparency too and should not apply a lower standard or principle to the police than we do to the courts.

“This hearing should be in public. And the system needs reform to ensure this cannot happen again.”