JOHN Glen and three other Wiltshire MPs urged the county’s police commissioner to extend the contract of chief constable Mike Veale.

In a letter dated January 4 – a week before Mr Veale’s departure from the force was announced – the MPs pressed Angus Macpherson to “move swiftly to end the uncertainty” surrounding the chief’s future.

They wrote: “We need to ensure that Wiltshire Police continues to be led by someone with a proven track record of success, and avoid a scenario where we lose an experienced Chief Constable.

“Media controversy surrounding Wiltshire Police over the past year should not obscure the fact that Mike Veale has consistently demonstrated a high level of performance in his role, regularly impressing both his colleagues and members of the public.”

The MPs wrote that Mr Veale had followed national guidelines during Operation Conifer – the inquiry into child sex abuse claims against Sir Edward Heath – and had ensured “multiple sources of independent, external scrutiny”.

Mr Veale was “more than capable of handling the challenges of his role” and had “consistently demonstrated integrity and strong leadership, often in the face of significant external pressure”, they said.

And the MPs said the force had become one of the best in the UK under Mr Veale’s leadership.

The letter, also signed by Devizes MP Claire Perry, North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson and Chippenham MP Michelle Donelan, concluded: “Given his strong record of achievement in a relatively short space of time, it would be very disappointing if media controversy over Operation Conifer obscures the reality of success under his watch so far. We urge you to determine that Mike Veale’s contract be extended as soon as possible to ensure that Wiltshire Police continues to go from strength to strength in the years ahead.”

Mr Macpherson said in a statement: "The chief constable’s contract was due to expire in July 2018. Informal discussions were ongoing.

"However, in the meantime the chief constable has secured a new role as the chief constable of Cleveland Police pending confirmation from their police and crime panel. I wish Mike Veale all the very best for his future and thank him for all he has done for Wiltshire Police."