Now police investigate whether to fine married fire chief for breaking Covid laws by driving 20 miles to spend afternoons at home of his ex-secretary
- Mark Andrews, 49, is Deputy Chief Officer at West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service
- He is under investigation for regularly visiting the home of his former secretary
- The fire chief has driven 20 miles from his home in Horsham to see her at her place in Worthing, West Sussex, on two occasions last week
- His bosses have passed the case to West Sussex Police to investigate the breach
- A fire service spokesman said: ‘A disciplinary investigation is taking place and the information we have received has been passed to the police.’
Police have launched an investigation into whether to fine one of Britain’s top fire officers for breaching lockdown rules by spending afternoons at the home of his former secretary.
Mark Andrews, the £105,000-a-year Deputy Chief Officer at West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, twice last week drove 20 miles to visit his ex-assistant Anna Colwell, 34, as revealed by MailOnline.
The father-of-two, 49, is currently under investigation by superiors at the fire and rescue service for breaking Covid lockdown rules.
Now his furious bosses have passed the case to Sussex Police to consider issuing him with a £200 fine for the breach.
A West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service spokesperson told Mail Online: ‘A disciplinary investigation into the allegations reported in the media is taking place and the information we have received has been passed to the police.
‘The person concerned remains in post and will continue to carry out their duties.’
Mark Andrews (left), 49, the £105,000-a-year Deputy Chief Officer at West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, is being investigated for visiting his former secretary Anna Colwell, 34, (right)
Married Mr Andrews and his former secretary Mrs Colwall were pictured last week travelling in her Mini without wearing masks despite the fact that they are not in the same household
Mr Andrews is married to Judy Andrews (left), 58, with whom he has a son and daughter. Mrs Colwell (right) was hired as his assistant last April, in which he chaired the recruiting panel
A Sussex Police spokesman confirmed: ‘We received a report on 15 January of a potential breach of Covid regulations by a man and a woman and we are currently reviewing this.’
Government rules state that two households should not mix to help battle the spread of Covid-19, and Mr Andrews has been a strong supporter of the anti-Covid rules on social media.
When confronted about the visits, he initially claimed they were ‘work colleagues’ but then admitted Mrs Colwell is now employed by an entirely separate fire brigade.
In August, Mr Andrews re-joined West Sussex Fire Service where he began his career
‘I have to face the consequences, frankly. But anything I say will be incriminating and difficult,’ said Mr Andrews when confronted by MailOnline.
Mr Andrews and Mrs Colwell were seen to meet on two successive days at her marital home in Worthing, West Sussex, last week.
At one point they drove together in her white Mini without masks, after Mr Andrews had parked his own Volvo some distance away from the property.
Angry colleagues have branded him a ‘hypocrite’ for flouting the rules.
Mr Andrews and Mrs Colwell, who is believed to have separated from her husband, met while working at East Sussex Fire services headquarters where she was a secretary and working for East Sussex police, which shares the same HQ in Lewes.
When Mr Andrews was looking for an assistant last April, she applied for the job and he chaired the interview panel which appointed her.
In August, he re-joined West Sussex Fire Service where he began his career more than 25 years ago, but their friendship continued after his departure.
Colleagues have slammed Mr Andrews as a ‘hypocrite’ for travelling in Mrs Colwell’s Mini without a mask and spending afternoons at her home while being a advocating lockdown rules
Asked if he had broken lockdown rules, Mr Andrews said of Mrs Colwell: ‘She is a work colleague so clearly I had some work to do. But… in a way that didn’t compromise myself.
Told that she was no longer a colleague as he claimed, but a former colleague, he said: ‘That is right.’
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. ‘
Asked the nature of their work, he said: ‘It is just collaborative work in the services which you will see in the record.’
Mr Andrews pictured with his wife Judy on holiday two years ago. He faces an investigation
Mr Andrews lives with his wife and their two children 20 miles away from his former assitant’s home in this beautiful detached, gated home worth approximately £1.5 million in Horsham
Asked why he’d parked so far from Mrs Colwell’s home, he said ‘I’ve no further comment gentlemen.’
After being contacted by MailOnline, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has launched an investigation.
‘All staff are expected to follow COVID-19 regulations and any reports of a breach of that would be investigated on a case by case basis,’ said a spokesman.
Mr Andrews lives with his wife Judy, 58, and son and daughter in a £1.5million detached house with a gated drive in Horsham.
He has been a vocal supporter of the Covid-19 restrictions and is vice-chair of the Sussex Resilience Forum, made up of emergency and contingency support groups in the area.
Last week it tweeted: ‘Not only are we in a national lockdown but the #Sussex LRF has declared a major incident in order that public services can escalate their response to the unprecedented pressures of #Covid19 on the county.
‘Please follow government rules and stay at home.’
Mr Andrews (right) has been a vocal supporter of the Covid-19 restrictions and is vice-chair of the Sussex Resilience Forum, made up of emergency support groups in the area
Mrs Colwell is separated from accountant Richard, 36, who works for an accountancy firm in Brighton and they have two young sons.
She was a civilian police worker before being appointed to be Mr Andrew’s assistant and has continued in her job after his departure.
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