A Westminster inquiry has had an insight into the bizarre behaviour of West Midlands Police over the Channel 4 documentary exposing extremism in British mosques.
The decision to complain about the programme to Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, was made by the Chief Constable, on the recommendation of a senior colleague.
Paul Scott-Lee, the head of our force, is responsible for decisions by his officers.
Sometimes, when things go wrong in large organisations, the person at the top will take the blame even if they have not been directly involved in the events which have sparked controversy.
This can be the honourable thing, even when most reasonable observers would have sympathy for them. Even the most diligent chief executive cannot monitor everything in their organisation.
But evidence given to the Home Affairs Select Committee makes it clear that Paul Scott-Lee’s involvement goes beyond this. He discussed the case with an assistant chief constable, and they jointly decided what to do. In the circumstances, the buck really does stop with him.
Perhaps it is not surprising therefore that nobody has been disciplined. There is no-one who could reasonably be blamed except for Mr Scott-Lee himself.
He has already announced that he will not be seeking the renewal of his contract when it expires next year.
The Undercover Mosque affair was a massive error of judgment, as shown by Ofcom’s decision to throw out the complaint and a high court ruling that the force had libelled Channel 4 and the documentary makers.
West Midlands Police have apologised, and the apology was repeated at the Select Committee hearing.
The one saving grace is that it appears the force has learned a lesson and it seems very unlikely that a similar decision will ever be taken again.
When Mr Scott-Lee departs, he will be remembered for far more than this affair, and much of his legacy will be extremely positive.
The force is credited with dramatically improving relations with much of the community it serves, and piloting innovative work to reduce youth and gang crime which has provided a model for other forces across the country.
It has recruited residents to tell it where it is going wrong, and has improved the way it communicates with the public. It even has its own page on social internet site Facebook.
He got his response to the controversial documentary badly wrong, but there have also been many achievements.