The police chief has referred a decision on how to discipline a senior officer who abused his power to a higher authority outside the force. The move by Commissioner of Police Eddie Hui Ki-on came after members of the Independent Police Complaints Council criticised as too lenient his original decision to hand down just a written warning. The complaint involved Chief Superintendent David Thomas, 49, who was found to have ordered his officers to harass the 11-year-old daughter of a club associate at her school in January. The Complaints Against Police Office ruled that Mr Thomas had used his authority unnecessarily. Members of the council endorsed the ruling this month and asked Mr Hui to review his decision on the penalty. Mr Thomas is the highest-ranking officer to be disciplined since the council was formed in 1986. Mr Hui has now decided to pass Mr Thomas' case to the Civil Service Bureau, which will make a final decision on whether to set up a disciplinary tribunal to hear the case. The tribunal, which would be composed of senior officials including ones from outside the police force, could decide on a punishment ranging from a verbal warning to a reprimand, financial penalty, reduction in rank, compulsory retirement or dismissal. The authority to dismiss a civil servant rests with the Chief Executive and the officer could appeal against the penalty decision or apply for judicial review. Mr Thomas, who joined the force in 1974, was said to have sent officers to the school in an attempt to put pressure on the girl's father to resign as manager of the United Services Recreation Club, where Mr Thomas is unpaid chairman. The ex-manager said he was glad to hear the commissioner had changed his mind on the penalty. He said: 'That's great. The case will be taken more seriously. I originally had the impression the case would be covered up. 'It's good that the independent council has taken this stance. A written warning is too lenient. It might encourage more senior police officers to abuse their power as they would know they can get away with it.' The police investigation confirmed that Yau Ma Tei police officers attended the girl's school on January 8, but only in response to a misleading missing persons report concerning her father's whereabouts. The girl's father, 46, said he called in sick on January 8 because he knew he was about to be dismissed and had a medical certificate.