Prosecutors and police were overwhelmed by more than 1 million pages of evidence during the trial of eight former South Wales police officers that eventually collapsed, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.
But key documents that went missing relating to the investigation of the murder of Lynette White in Cardiff in 1988 were not destroyed by officers, an inquiry into the case concluded.
The five-month-long, high-profile trial into alleged police corruption had to be abandoned in December 2011 after two sets of paperwork could not be found and the prosecution acknowledged that it had failed to disclose material. The documents were found the following year.
Reports from the Independent Police Complaints Commission and HM Crown Prosecution Inspectorate (HMCPSI), released on Tuesday, reveal the failure of police and prosecution to control files.
The history of the Cardiff Three case has been complex. Three men were wrongly convicted in 1990 of the murder of White, described as a sex worker. The 2011 trial involved officers who had worked on the original investigation.
Publishing the HMCPSI report, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it accepted that “some elements of disclosure were not adequately managed from the outset, leading to the prosecution team of police and prosecutors being overwhelmed by the scale and complexity of the disclosure exercise”.
According to Peter Vaughan, Chief Constable of South Wales Police: “The reports conclude that although questions around some documents could not be answered satisfactorily during the trial, the documents were not destroyed and their destruction was not directed by the Senior Investigating Officer. It is clear from the reports that there was no misconduct on part of officers and prosecutors.” So people still suffered, even if it was just through police incompetence rather than corruption.