A truth-based professional

December 22, 2011

I worked with Gillian Radcliffe, who recently resigned as head of communications at the London College of Communication ("PR chief's parting shot cites LCC head's 'unfair' management style", 15 December), very closely between 1991 and 1997 when she was head of press and public affairs for the South Yorkshire Police.

Gillian showed enormous integrity and humanity in her dealings with our officers, our support staff and with representatives of the media. She was a thorough-going professional, pressing always for transparency and a strong ethical base in the way that we approached media enquiries into our work.

We both recognised that such a stance, particularly from the police service, underpins an important aspect of democratic freedom. Any other approach in any other institution would sit very uncomfortably with her.

The other wonderful quality one inherited with Gillian was her Yorkshire directness; hers was simply an unwillingness to sit passively by at what she saw as injustice, incomplete thinking (my own included) or unsubstantiated gossip. She would quietly and with dignity stand up for what she believed in. She wrote for us a very good paper called "Into the light" in which she advocated positive, constantly truth-based handling of information; the title says a lot about her life and philosophy.

I had eventually to let her go, with great reluctance, for the sake of her career development, and we were never quite the same afterwards. Whoever succeeds in attracting her services will discover a true gem.

Richard Wells, Chief Constable, South Yorkshire Police, 1990-98, via www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

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