Married fire chief, 49, fined after breaking lockdown to visit ex-secretary

A MARRIED fire chief has been fined ÂŁ200 after breaking lockdown restrictions to visit his ex-secretary.

Mark Andrews, 49, regularly drove 20 miles to see 34-year-old Anna Colwell despite her no longer working for him.

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Mr Andrews at first claimed his former secretary was a "work colleague" before admitting she worked for a separate fire brigade, Mailonline reported.

An investigation was launched by West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service into the ÂŁ105,000-a-year Deputy Chief Officer.

He could still be sacked if it's revealed he visited his former secretary during work hours.

Ms Colwell, who works for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, was also fined ÂŁ200 for breaking lockdown rules, and is also under investigation byher bosses.

'CONSEQUENCES'

The pair reportedly met on two successive days at her marital home in Worthing, West Sussex.

They also took a drive in her white Mini without face masks after the dad-of-two left his ÂŁ1.5million home with his wife Judy, 58.

Under Government rules, two households are banned from mixing to help stop the spread of Covid.

Mr Andrews was branded a "hypocrite" for flouting lockdown restrictions by his colleagues, Mail Online reported in January.

His bosses passed the case to Sussex Police.

When askedat the time if he had broken lockdown rules, the fire chief said: "She is a work colleague so clearly I had some work to do. But… in a way that didn't compromise myself.

He added: "I have to face the consequences frankly. But anything I say will be incriminating and difficult so I just need to absorb what you are saying to me."

UNDER FIRE

Mr Andrews and Ms Colwell met while working at East Sussex Fire services headquarters.

She is understood to be separated from her husband.

At the time, she was with East Sussex Police, which shares its headquarters with the fire service.

She was interviewed by Mr Andrews for his assistant role last April but he left to re-join West Sussex Fire Service, where he began his career, in August.

The married chief, who has grown up twins, was said to have visited Ms Colwell's home for four hours.

He returned the next day and let himself in by a side entrance with a takeaway later delivered.

FIRE PROBE

A spokesman for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service said: "A disciplinary investigation is continuing. The outcome of disciplinary investigations are not made public.

"West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service takes any breach of Covid-19 regulations very seriously and will take appropriate action where necessary."

A spokesman for East Sussex Fire & Rescue said: "The service does not make public any internal disciplinary investigations or outcomes.

"We take seriously any allegations of breaches of Covid regulations and take appropriate action where necessary."

Mr Andrews has previously called for people not to breach Covid rules during the pandemic.

On New Year's Eve he retweeted a message from his Fire Service which said: "It's really important we all do our bit to stop #COVID19 spreading. Please follow the latest guidelines and stay safe this New Year's Eve by celebrating at home."

At the time a source said his flouting the rules could "lead members of the public to ease up".

They told MailOnline: "It is disappointing, in fact it is hypocritical, for him to be breaking social distancing rules at a time when the Fire services are telling everybody to be safe by adhering to Government restrictions.

"The picture of him next to his former assistant in a car and with neither wearing a mask during the lockdown will not help promote safety during this pandemic."


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