Category: Law

Met tried to silence PC whistleblower who exposed crime figures scandal

The Guardian:

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) made repeated attempts to silence a whistleblower who exposed the widespread manipulation of crime statistics, it has emerged.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that senior officers made three separate attempts to stop PC James Patrick speaking out over the course of less than five months. In one letter, they went so far as to insist he be barred from having any contact with any member of the public.

He was sent two further letters within a few days this month warning him about interviews he intended to do with the BBC. He was told he faced further disciplinary action if he continued to speak out. He was eventually referred to the directorate of professional standards after he did the interviews, in which he said the Met “puts reputation before the truth”.

As a result of Patrick’s evidence to the public administration select committee, the head of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary Tom Winsor admitted that the manipulation of crime figures was taking place. The UK Statistics Authority withdrew the Met’s gold standard national statistics status.

The Met commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, was forced to admit the numbers were being fiddled and said the issue was a cause for concern.

Bernard Jenkin, the chair of the parliamentary committee that investigated the manipulation of crime stats, said: “The most depressing part of our inquiry is the way in which the Metropolitan police have treated my constituent, PC James Patrick, who was our key witness.”

You can tell a lot about an organisation by the way it treats whistleblowers.

Secret second Metropolitan Police corruption probe revealed

The Independent:

The Metropolitan Police corruption scandal has deepened after The Independent uncovered the existence of a previously secret investigation into criminal officers that went much further than the files destroyed by Scotland Yard.

Operation Zloty, a wide-ranging inquiry spanning at least nine years, found dozens of rogue detectives in the employ of organised crime and operating with “virtual immunity”.

The “long-term intelligence development operation” included information on police corruption originally gathered by 17 other investigations – including Operation Othona, the contents of which were inexplicably shredded sometime around 2003.

Separately, The Independent explores the links between this and the death of Daniel Moran.

Police to be told not to confer before writing up notes

The BBC:

Police officers in England and Wales are to be instructed not to confer before writing up their notes of serious incidents they are involved in.

The BBC understands guidance will be issued to forces once it has been approved by the home secretary.  At present, officers can pool their recollections before making individual statements.

Simply astonishing that this was permitted in the first place.

Police failed to address Met’s ‘endemic corruption’

The Independent:

Organised criminals were able to infiltrate Scotland Yard “at will” by bribing corrupt officers, according to an explosive report leaked to The Independent. The Metropolitan Police file, written in 2002, found Britain’s biggest force suffered “endemic corruption” at the time.

Operation Tiberius concluded that syndicates such as the notorious Adams family and the gang led by David Hunt had bribed scores of former and then-serving detectives to access confidential databases; obtain live intelligence on criminal investigations; provide specialist knowledge of surveillance, technical deployment and undercover techniques to help evade prosecution; and even take part in criminal acts such as mass drug importation and money laundering.

If true, I’d rate this as a threat to the state.  And so, what is the point of all the surveillance by GCHQ et al, if not used to protect the state?

The corruption of Britain: UK’s key institutions infiltrated by criminals

The Independent:

The entire criminal justice system was infiltrated by organised crime gangs, according to a secret Scotland Yard report leaked to The Independent.

In 2003 Operation Tiberius found that men suspected of being Britain’s most notorious criminals had compromised multiple agencies, including HM Revenue & Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service, the City of London Police and the Prison Service, as well as pillars of the criminal justice system including juries and the legal profession.

The strategic intelligence scoping exercise – “ratified by the most senior management” at the Met – uncovered jurors being bought off or threatened to return not-guilty verdicts; corrupt individuals working for HMRC, both in the UK and overseas; and “get out of jail free cards” being bought for £50,000.

The report states that the infiltration made it almost impossible for police and prosecutors to successfully pursue the organised gangs that police suspected controlled much of the criminal underworld.

The author of Tiberius, which was compiled from intelligence sources including covert police informants, live telephone intercepts, briefings from the security services and thousands of historical files, came to the desperate conclusion: “Quite how much more damage could be done is difficult to imagine.”

The fresh revelations come a day after The Independent revealed that Tiberius had concluded the Metropolitan Police suffered “endemic police corruption” at the time, and that some of Britain’s most dangerous organised crime syndicates were able to infiltrate New Scotland Yard “at will”.

In its conclusions, the report stated: “The true assessment of the damage caused by these corrupt networks is impossible to make at this stage, until further proactive scoping has been undertaken.

The Independent isn’t the UK’s National Enquirer, so this report seems as though it should be taken seriously.  Odd that it hasn’t been widely covered by other newspapers.

Met police commissioner faces IPCC investigation

The Guardian:

The commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, is facing an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into his actions on the day of the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989, in which 96 people died.

The complaint against Hogan-Howe, Britain’s top policeman, includes the fact that he appears never to have made a statement after Hillsborough to any of the official investigations into the disaster, despite having said last year that he did.

Hogan-Howe said last year he had refused to change his statement after being asked to by another policeman, but in fact it has now turned out he apparently never made any statement at all.

Met detained David Miranda for promoting “political” causes

The Observer:

The detention of the partner of a former Guardian journalist has triggered fresh concerns after it emerged that a key reason cited bypolice for holding him under terrorism powers was the belief that he was promoting a “political or ideological cause”.

The revelation has alarmed leading human rights groups and a Tory MP, who said the justification appeared to be without foundation and threatened to have damaging consequences for investigative journalism.

David Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who – often in collaboration with the Guardian – has broken many stories about the extent and scope of spying by the US National Security Agency. Miranda was stopped at Heathrow airport in August and held by the Metropolitan police for nine hours while on his way home to Brazil.

Officers told to apologise or face a charge of contempt

The Guardian:

Police officers accused of lying in the Plebgate scandal involving Andrew Mitchell will be hauled back to the Commons this week and forced to apologise for misleading MPs – or face being found guilty of contempt of parliament.

A report from the home affairs select committee savages the evidence of three Police Federation representatives who were called to answer claims they gave a false account of a meeting with Mitchell, who was then the Conservative chief whip, in October last year. The report condemns the trio for giving evidence to the committee last month that was “misleading, possibly deliberately”. The chairman of the committee, the Labour MP Keith Vaz, likens their accounts to “fiction”.

The officers claimed that Mitchell had refused to give a full account of what he had said in Downing Street, when he was accused of calling police “fucking plebs” after he was prevented from cycling through the gates. He was forced to resign a week later. However, a 45-minute recording of the meeting made by the Tory MP revealed the three officers had misrepresented him.

The select committee lambasted the accounts that Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton (Warwickshire police), Sergeant Chris Jones (West Midlands police) and Inspector Ken MacKaill (West Mercia police) offered during an evidence session 10 days ago, concluding that: “The answers they gave were contradictory, inconsistent and provided little or no insight into their actions.”

Jones and Hinton will be summoned back to apologise to the committee on Tuesday. MacKaill has been warned that he may also be summoned if it is found that he too misled MPs.

Chief Inspector Jerry Reakes-Williams, head of professional standards at Warwickshire and West Mercia police, who led an inquiry into the October 2012 meeting between Mitchell and the federation officials, said he believed that officers should face misconduct charges. West Mercia Police, however, concluded that there was no case to answer for misconduct. The committee said it was perturbed to find no formal minutes or detailed notes of a briefing during which Reakes-Williams discussed his findings with senior officers.

The committee also found it “extraordinary” that Andy Parker, chief constable of Warwickshire, sought to correct the evidence of Hinton in a manner that suggested he lacked impartiality. Assistant Chief Constable Gary Cann of West Midlands was also criticised for attempting to access the final report of the misconduct investigation prior to it being signed off by the IPCC.

The quality of the evidence supplied by the officers to the committee is, says the report, exemplified by Hinton’s response when MPs asked whether his reference to “this woman that the Conservative party have” was in fact a reference to the home secretary, Theresa May. He suggested that it was “a typo, to be perfectly honest”.

However, in a subsequent letter to the committee, Hinton concedes that the woman referred to must be the home secretary. Jones is also condemned for his failure to give a full account of his disciplinary record to the committee.

One aspect of this whole episode is the role of the newly created elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs).  West Mercia’s PCC is Bill Longmore.  West Midlands’s PCC is  Bob Jones.    The Independent described Warwickshire’s PCC Ron Ball, after he appeared on Newsnight, as  “comically out of his depth”.  Ball has no previous policing experience and was elected by a turnout of 15.65 per cent.

Police watchdog takes Met to court in standoff over schedule 7 complaints

The Guardian:

The police watchdog has said it will take the Metropolitan police to court over the force’s attempt to keep secret its investigations into claims it is abusing its counter-terrorism powers.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it filed papers with the high court on Wednesday over the Met’s refusal to disclose the conclusions of investigations into its use of powers to stop people at ports and airports.

The IPCC believes the police are required by law to give it the information, and says the Met is the only force in England that has refused to do so.

Boris Johnson sets the Met’s priorities.  Does he approve of the Met ignoring the IPCC?

The first anniversary of plebgate

As Chris Mullin in The Guardian reminds us, it is the first anniversary of plebgate.

Alarm bells began to ring. Bernard Hogan Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, cut short his Christmas holiday to appear before the home affairs committee. Hogan Howe, who from the outset had been unwisely professing his complete confidence in his officers’ version of events, now promised “a ruthless search for the truth”. Operation Alice was set up, involving 30 police officers who were to leave no stone unturned. The issues they had to resolve were simple enough. Why did the Downing Street log suggest that the incident had been witnessed by members of the public when it hadn’t? Who contacted the Sun within hours of the incident taking place? Who leaked the contents of the log to the Daily Telegraph? And, above all, who put Randall’s constituent up to apparently claiming he had witnessed the incident when he hadn’t?

Nine months on, the outcome of this “ruthless search for the truth” is still awaited. A number of officers and one civilian are reported to have been arrested, but as yet there is no sign of any charges. We will, of course, never know precisely what was said by Mitchell in his exchange with the officers. All one can say is that what has since come to light undermines the credibility of the police witnesses and adds weight to Mitchell’s version of events.

There will of course be those who ask why all this should be any concern to those of us who are not Tories. Why, they may argue, intrude on private grief? In my view, however, there are wider issues at stake that ought to be of interest to all democrats. First, it is not in the public interest that the police should be allowed to reshuffle the government on the basis of evidence of which some is clearly fabricated.

Second, as one of my Tory neighbours remarked: “If the police will go to these lengths to fit up a Tory cabinet minister, imagine what they could do to a black boy late one night in the back streets of Manchester.” Finally, somewhere at the back of all this lies the Police Federation, a mighty vested interest with a long track record of defending the indefensible. It is high time it got its comeuppance.