THREE whistleblowers have earned a partial victory over their handling of a probe into a former Bury police officer's shoplifting arrest.

Det Insp Andrew Aston, PS John Schofield and PC John Byrne investigated Richard Pendlebury, after he was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting at Asda in Pilsworth in 2014.

But the inquiry was extended to cover claims three officers tried to interfere with Sgt Pendlebury's arrest and prosecution, an employment tribunal was told.

Sgt Pendlebury was cleared of shoplifting. But his partner, Zoe Wilkinson, was jailed for trying to give him a false alibi. He was later dismissed for hacking into police computers without authority.

An investigation into three officers involved in his arrest - Insp Maria Donaldson, Chief Supt Lee Bruckshaw, and Chief Insp Clara Williams - did not lead to criminal charges.

The tribunal heard there were concerns Sgt Pendlebury was not taken into custody after his arrest but summonsed instead. Pressure was allegedly exerted to get the case dropped and"inappropriate approaches" made to the Crown Prosecution Service.

CI Williams was disciplined and given 'management advice'. CS Bruckshaw argued his case down to a misconduct charge. He was given 'words of advice' and retired. Insp Donaldson's eventual misconduct charged was dismissed due to procedural unfairness.

Later CS Bruckshaw gave a critical BBC interview, alluding to DI Aston, without naming him. Bruckshaw and Aston worked together at Bolton and there was 'bad blood' between them. This was found to be detrimental to DI Aston, as were accusations of malpractice, made by CI Williams.

Press comments made by Deputy Chief Con Ian Pilling, saying the investigation was not "carried out in the effective manner we always aspire to" was ruled to be detrimental to Aston, Schofield and Byrne, as was a failure to provide an 'exit strategy' so they could resume their careers unimpeded. Other claims were dismissed.

Employment Judge Tom Ryan said the trio were "attempting to carry out a difficult task in demanding circumstances".

A GMP spokesman said: "We are aware of the judgment and are currently considering its content."