AN Avon & Somerset police dog handler had his former boss pulled over for suspected drink-driving at 5am because of a grudge, a misconduct hearing was told.

PC Lee Umpleby lay in wait near Sgt Steve Knight’s home and followed his car for five miles before traffic officers stopped and breathalysed him, a test which turned out to be negative, the tribunal panel heard.

The constable, who is accused of gross misconduct, told the hearing his ex-line manager at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Police in Corsham, Wiltshire, was a “bully” who numerous colleagues believed drove to work at the weekend after drinking the night before.

PC Umpleby, based in Almondsbury, South Gloucestershire, resigned from the MoD Police because he could no longer work with Sgt Knight.

He joined Avon & Somerset Constabulary where he “engineered” the roadside stop, it was alleged.

He denied it was “payback” for his former boss refusing “excessive” mileage claims, which led to a disciplinary finding of misconduct against PC Umpleby following an MoD internal review of his expenses.

PC Umpleby said he arranged for the car to be stopped because he feared someone could be killed, either on the road or through Sgt Knight’s role as a firearms officer.

When the officer resigned from Corsham, he left a copy of a letter to the MoD Police chief constable on display in the station for his colleagues to see, criticising Sgt Knight who called it a “character assassination”, the panel heard.

Solicitor Louise Ravenscroft, representing Avon & Somerset Police, said: “This case relates to the planned and intentional conduct of PC Umpleby to engineer a roadside traffic stop in respect of his former line manager Sgt Knight on the premise he may be driving under the influence of alcohol.

“PC Umpleby did not have any reliable or credible evidence or any information to suggest Sgt Knight may be drink-driving on May 14, 2023, having consumed alcohol the evening before.

“PC Umpleby has used his position as a police officer to follow up on a previous grievance he had with Sgt Knight.

“This is a grievance and an association he did not tell anybody about.

“This was an intentional omission from PC Umpleby to ensure he could personally be involved in the eventual roadside stop.”

The pair’s relationship became more strained after the constable became the Police Federation rep, she said.

Ms Ravenscroft said: “Sgt Knight’s account provided occasions where he was recorded in secret by PC Umpleby to drag up issues he wanted to advance.”

PC Umpleby told day one of the hearing at Avon & Somerset force headquarters in Portishead on Monday, June 3: “There are huge risks with carrying a firearm.

“You have to be fit for duty. If you’re intoxicated and make the slightest mistake, you could kill someone.

“I couldn’t walk away from this situation because someone might be killed, if not from his driving then from his role at the MoD.”

He said the pair clashed because he disagreed with how Sgt Knight ran the station.

PC Umpleby said: “He was a bully and used that to intimidate other officers.

“I challenged him on that several times, to which he ignored and denied it.

“I attempted a non-combative way to deal with that by becoming the Police Federation rep at the station.”

He said that after two meetings, Sgt Knight, the officer in charge of the police station, refused to have any more.

PC Umpleby, a police officer since 2006 who joined the MoD Police seven years ago, said: “Eventually I resigned  [from the MoD role] because Sgt Knight was impossible to work with and work for.

“The letter was my resignation which I wrote to the chief constable citing my concerns.

“I left a copy in the station not to upset or ridicule him but because I felt I was abandoning everyone at the station.

“It wasn’t a character assassination, it was an attempt for me to justify to everyone why I was leaving.”

He admitted recording the meetings on his phone in his pocket without telling Sgt Knight because he had dyslexia and struggled to recall details and was embarrassed to tell his manager why he needed to do that, but that the sergeant got “very upset” when he found out.

PC Umpleby claimed he saw his manager drunk at work twice on overtime weekend shifts, slurring his words and in a “dishevelled state”, but that he could not get close enough to smell alcohol.

He said no one could report it at the time because it would cause problems for colleagues.

The officer said: “I lost complete faith in the system. Trying to report it through the proper chain was impossible.

“I would suffer for it. There would be repercussions.”

PC Umpleby said the only way to be sure Sgt Knight was drink-driving was to have him breathalysed on his way to work on a weekend.

He said: “On reflection I shouldn’t have turned up at the scene, but I would always stop at a traffic stop to support colleagues.

“There was no benefit for me to see Sgt Knight being breathalysed.”

Body-worn camera footage showed the sergeant telling traffic officers at 5am that his last drink was at 10.30pm the night before.

PC Umpleby said Sgt Knight should not have had any alcohol because of MoD Police rules for firearms officers.

He said: “I believe Sgt Knight does drink-drive to work.

“I could have done things differently but this was the right thing to do.

“He didn’t get carted off to a police station, he wasn’t humiliated, he took a breathalyser test which is a screening.

“I believe my actions have stopped him doing it.”

PC Umpleby admits misconduct but denies gross misconduct.

He also denies obtaining unauthorised information about his former sergeant’s shift pattern, failing to tell Avon & Somerset Police about their past association and also failing to file an intelligence report.

The hearing continues.