MP to seek second adjournment debate

Exactly six years ago, at the end of the day’s Parliamentary business, Gerry Sutcliffe rose to his feet from the green leather benches to begin his contribution to an adjournment debate on the subject of the John Elam miscarriage of justice case. This is what he had to say:

“I am pleased to see the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims in his place. I do not expect him to be able to respond in detail to the important issues that I will raise, but perhaps while he listens to my speech he will reflect on what advice he can give on the best course of action to take the matter forward.

“The last case that I raised in which I felt a serious injustice had been done was that of Private Lee Clegg, a soldier in Northern Ireland who was convicted of murder. After the intervention of his solicitor, Simon McKay, other Members from both Houses and myself, he was eventually cleared of the crime.

“I want to make it clear that I do not raise these matters lightly. On the whole, our legal system is fair and just. It was with great pleasure and pride that I served as a Minister in the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice under the last Government. I therefore raise this case knowing the confines within which Ministers may speak because of operational issues and the legal process. I raise this case this evening because a number of things have happened that have made me want to put it on the record.

“Mr John Elam was convicted of a conspiracy to commit fraud and received a 10-and-a-half-year jail sentence in April 2008. He has now been released on licence. He has always maintained his innocence and has sought to appeal against his imprisonment. He had an appeal in 2010 that was turned down.

“A constituent of mine came to see me to raise his concerns about the safety of the conviction and the role of certain officers in West Yorkshire Police. As you will know, Madam Deputy Speaker, Members of Parliament are approached by many people who feel that the legal system has operated against them. Sometimes it is difficult to unravel what the issues really are. As any other constituency MP would do, I wrote to the appropriate Departments and West Yorkshire police, and I contacted Mr Elam’s then solicitors, Keith Dyson and Partners. I also had meetings with the West Yorkshire Police Commissioner [Mark Burns-Williamson].

“My interest was stirred even more when differing accounts of the case emerged. According to West Yorkshire Police, Mr Elam was an international criminal who had connections to the Russian mafia and was involved in money laundering and the drugs trade. However, according to his solicitor, Mr Elam was the victim of police intimidation and a dirty tricks campaign, which included a lack of disclosure at his appeal. I am not a lawyer, so I was unsure what legal avenues were available to resolve the conflicting stories. As MPs do, I asked around, seeking advice and receiving information from many sources. The responses led to my interest in the case deepening further.

“Mr Elam had only one previous conviction, for common assault—he threw a Toby jug at a pub landlord. How did that minor criminal evolve into an alleged international criminal? According to West Yorkshire Police, they were interested in Mr Elam in 2005 and sought approval to have him monitored and placed under surveillance as a dangerous criminal. Operation Teddington was set up, and a very large amount of resources was spent on the process. Covert action was used to monitor the bank accounts of the Medina Trading Company, which consisted of a restaurant and a car wash. Mr Elam has always admitted his involvement with the Medina company and its directors.

“The Yorkshire Bank held the accounts of the Medina company, and an employee of the bank at that time, Mr Richard Shires, passed on information relating to the accounts, and cheques, to DC Mick Casey of West Yorkshire Police, as confirmed by affidavit. During my investigations into the matter, I have submitted a number of freedom of information requests to West Yorkshire Police, through which I have discovered that a person called Mr Richard Shires was a serving special constable in West Yorkshire Police at the time the information was passed on. I have also discovered that a person called Mr Richard Shires subsequently became a paid constable in West Yorkshire Police and continues to serve to this day. I have tried to discover through a recent freedom of information request whether those Richard Shires were one and the same, but at this time I have not been provided with that information.

“If those Richard Shires were one and the same, there was a clear conflict of interest, and more to the point, the credibility of the information and cheques passed to DC Casey would be called into doubt. I think all would agree that it would never be appropriate for a bank employee who was also a serving special constable to assist with the inquiries of the very same police force he worked for.

“At the trial, the Crown was represented by Mr Jonathan Sandiford. No evidence was given about the wider concerns relating to Mr Elam’s criminal associations. In fact, Mr Sandiford stated: The prosecution case here is that the conspirators sought to conceal the fact that Mr Elam was the true owner of the companies acquiring the business in order to defraud creditors’.

“In summing up the case, His Honour Judge Wolstenholme said to the jury that ‘….what you must do is take the view that, well, something dishonest was going on with one or more of the defendants. They must all have been up to something, even if you are not sure what.’

“Subsequently, Mr Elam was convicted.

“Mr Elam’s case, supported by his legal team, portrays an entirely different account of the chain of events. Mr Elam claims that he was approached in the summer of 2004 by a police officer demanding £150,000 in cash to be paid immediately, and £30,000 annually thereafter. In March 2005, the police investigated Mr Elam’s business practices using the covert name Operation Teddington. It is alleged that, in June 2005, 49 officers were redeployed from the anti-terrorist taskforce to work on Teddington.

“As I said, in September 2005, Richard Shires was a paid employee of the Yorkshire Bank. He accessed bank accounts relating to the Medina restaurant and secured more than 3,000 cancelled cheques. A written affidavit by Mr Shires confirms that he delivered a bundle of those cheques to DC Casey. The Yorkshire Bank also confirms that it never received an order to produce from the courts.

“In 2006, John Elam was arrested, and then the Crown court trial began. Despite a wide-ranging three-year investigation, involving more than 300 officers, Mr Elam faced a single charge of conspiracy to commit fraud. He was convicted and served his sentence in HMP Wakefield as a category A prisoner, the highest security level. He had also been treated as a category A prisoner during his time on remand. Mr Elam suffered a stroke in prison and needed external medical support.

“It is my contention that, whatever the true situation, a number of questions remain unanswered and there are a number of public interest concerns. First, was a production order properly served to Yorkshire Bank, and what was the role of PC Shires? Secondly, what was the true cost of Operation Teddington, and were officers diverted from the anti-terrorism taskforce, who at the time were dealing with the 7/7 bombers in West Yorkshire? Thirdly, why was Mr Elam considered to be a category A prisoner, and who was the police officer that demanded money?

“I know the Minister cannot respond directly to individual cases and that the Criminal Cases Review Commission will take a fresh look at this case, but I am seriously concerned enough to raise these issues and the fact that, while out on licence, Mr Elam still faces issues related to the recovery of the proceeds of crime. A hearing that was suspended in October is due in February. I have tried to contact West Yorkshire police on a number of occasions about those issues, and I will continue to do so. I was heartened today when I had a more co-operative response from West Yorkshire Police because they knew this debate was taking place, and I hope to take the matter further.

“These are serious allegations and this is a serious case—as I said, I do not usually promote and push issues where I do not feel that a cause needs to be looked at. This is a sensitive case, but it is important that as constituency MPs we raise such matters when they are put to us, and that we try to get the best result for the constituents we represent, particularly where justice and the work of the police are concerned. It must always be held utmost that the police operate in a proper manner and that our legal system is operating at its best.

“I want to put this case on record. I am sure it will not end here and that we will have to deal with other issues. However, I believe that the other bodies involved—they know who they are—should look at this case in greater detail, and I look forward to what the Minister has to say.”

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Gerry Sutcliffe, former MP for Bradford South

The Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (Damian Green) then rose to respond on behalf of the Government:

“I congratulate the Hon. Member for Bradford South (Mr Sutcliffe) on securing this debate and thank him for recognising at various stages in his speech that I will inevitably be constrained in what I can say in response to the specific points he has raised. He served in a distinguished capacity in both the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office under the previous Government, so he will recognise that as a Minister in both Departments I am doubly constrained in what I can say. I will, however, respond to his points about miscarriages of justice, applications to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, and police matters.

“Consideration of alleged miscarriages of justice is a matter for the independent Criminal Cases Review Commission, and ultimately for the appeal courts. I am aware that Mr Elam has made an application to the commission. It is therefore not a matter for the Government and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on that case on their behalf. I understand that Mr Elam has made a complaint to West Yorkshire Police that is still ongoing and being investigated by the force’s Professional Standards Department. Again, that disqualifies me from commenting on it.

“The Hon. Gentleman mentioned the background to the case, and I understand that Mr Elam and a number of co-defendants were prosecuted as a result of a major operation by West Yorkshire Police. There were a number of criminal trials against Mr Elam and other defendants in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Mr Elam was convicted of offences including assault and conspiracy to pervert justice, conspiracy to defraud, and doing acts tending or intending to pervert the course of justice. Custodial sentences were imposed following conviction, which have been served, and I understand that Mr Elam has appealed unsuccessfully to the Court of Appeal, against sentence on one occasion, which was heard in 2007, and twice against conviction—both those appeals were heard in 2010.

“As I have said, Mr Elam has made an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which was established by the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. Its purpose is to review possible miscarriages of justice. Since 31st March 1997, the Commission has operated with the power to investigate alleged miscarriages of justice and refer convictions and sentences to the relevant appeal court for a new appeal. Its remit extends to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Commission replaced functions that were previously carried out by the Secretary of State. Parliament established the Commission specifically to be a body that is independent of the Government.

“A Commission review is rightly a long and thorough process. If Mr Elam’s application to the Commission concerns all the criminal proceedings to which he has been subject over a number years, the review will be complex and lengthy.

“It should be noted that the Commission has strong statutory powers to enable it to discharge its functions. It can direct and supervise investigations; approve the appointment of officers to carry investigations on its behalf; and gain access to documents and other relevant materials. I draw the Hon. Gentleman’s attention to the power in section 17 of the 1995 Act, under which the Commission can reasonably require any person serving in any public body to produce to the Commission any document or other material that can assist it in the exercise of any of its functions.

“Of course, “public body” includes the police, so the Commission’s powers pursuant to section 17 operate irrespective of any duty of confidentiality and allow the Commission access to information of the highest sensitivity. Accordingly, as I am sure the House can see, the Commission has the power to obtain and review the papers and materials held by West Yorkshire Police, provided the Commission believes it reasonable to do so, in connection with its review of Mr Elam’s conviction. I hope that that reassures the Hon. Gentleman that, when the time comes, the Commission can access and consider all material relevant to the review of Mr Elam’s application.

“The Commission has confirmed that an application from Mr Elam was received in January 2013. Mr Elam is now at liberty and, as I understand it, the case is not yet under active review. The Commission has informed me that it recently wrote to advise Mr Elam that the estimated date for the allocation of his case for review is January 2015. I appreciate that that is some 2 years after the original application was made and that, given the complexity of the case, it is likely to be some time before an outcome is reached once the review is under way.

“In addition, the commission has explained to me that it operates a system of priority for applicants who are in custody. For cases requiring a substantial review, the review is generally started 12 months earlier when applicants are in custody than when somebody is at liberty. Currently, the wait for those in custody is unduly long. The Commission is concentrating on allocating those cases to reduce the maximum waiting time.

“As I have said, although the Commission prioritises applications from people in custody, I am advised that it has a policy for affording priority to any individual case when appropriate. Perhaps Mr Elam wishes to pursue that, or perhaps the Hon. Gentleman can discuss with Mr Elam whether that is an appropriate course of action in his case. I should take the opportunity to repeat that the Government should not, and indeed cannot, in any way intervene or be seen to be intervening in a matter for the Commission and, if appropriate, the appeal courts.

“On the West Yorkshire Police investigation, I understand from them that Mr Elam’s solicitor contacted them at the end of last year to make a complaint about an officer involved in the 2005 investigation. West Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Department is currently in correspondence with Mr Elam’s solicitor about the matter and currently awaits a response. As the Hon. Gentleman has said, Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Brennan, the Head of the West Yorkshire Police Professional Standards Department, has spoken to him and informed him of the sequence of events surrounding the original complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

“The complaint was thoroughly reviewed, and the response was sent on 18 September advising that there was no evidence to support the allegation. A formal complaint was recorded by West Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards department and, although Mr Elam and his representatives have been advised that the complaint will be subject to disapplication on two occasions, there has been no response to the letters.

“I understand that the Hon. Gentleman was advised that the process would not stop West Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Department from taking action on the information, especially if there is a suggestion of misconduct or criminality. I believe that Detective Chief Superintendent Brennan has also offered to meet the Hon. Gentleman to go through any outstanding allegations or suggestions of misconduct. As well as that offer—it is obviously a matter for him to decide whether to take that up—the Professional Standards Department strongly encourages Mr Elam, or any other person, to contact it should they have information that they believe may be relevant or of value. I think that that is all I can appropriately say at this stage.

“If after those stages Mr Elam is not satisfied with how his complaint to West Yorkshire Police was dealt with, or how he was notified of the outcome, he can appeal a decision to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is the statutory guardian of the police complaints system. There are, therefore, further steps that he can take if he wishes to do so.

“The Hon. Gentleman raised three important specific points at the end of his speech. Let me address them as far as I can. The issue of the production order to Yorkshire Bank and the role of Mr Shires is specific to one or more of the criminal cases brought against Mr Elam. If that is a case he has asked the Criminal Cases Review Commission to consider, it will investigate the issues fully. It is therefore not appropriate for me to speculate on them. Information on the costs and diversion of police resources for the purposes of Operation Teddington is an operational matter for West Yorkshire Police, so I refer the Hon. Gentleman to it for the answer to that. On the question of where Mr Elam served his custodial sentences, the decision on which custodial facility a convicted prisoner is sent to is made by the National Offender Management Service. Its decision is informed by information and intelligence from various sources, and the Directorate of High Security has a responsibility to act on that information. It is not within its remit to investigate the details of the information provided by the sources it uses.

“It is clear from the important matters raised by the Hon. Gentleman that there are issues that need to be looked into further. As I have explained, the relevant and appropriate bodies are looking into those matters now. I therefore think that the sensible way forward is to allow the application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission to take its course. I hope that that satisfies the important points raised by the Hon. Gentleman.

Damian Green sat down at 5.18pm having given a polished and, patently, well briefed response, 22 minutes after the debate opened. The obvious, and legitimate question, is what has happened since? Is everything as straightforward as he makes out with regard to the various statutory bodies and the police in their treatment of miscarriage of justice victims and did the case pan out as he said it would. What follows here is a damning condemnation of all four: The Criminal Case Review Commission, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, West Yorkshire Police and Mr Green himself.

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Former Policing Minister, Damian Green pictured alongside family friend, Kate Maltby

Green was later sacked by Prime Minister, Theresa May, as First Minister after he admittted making misleading statements following the discovery of pornography found on his Commons computer in 2008. Those listening to the swish sound of whitewash being smoothly applied during his response to Gerry Sutcliffe wouldn’t have been too surprised at this turn of events. Mrs May was, of course, Green’s ‘boss’ at the Home Office at the time of the adjournment debate. She did not call for a review of any matters with which he had been involved as a result of his admission of dishonesty.

Other allegations raised against him by Kate Maltby, were found to be “plausible”, but no definitive conclusion could be reached about them as a result of “the competing and contradictory accounts” of the Minister and a female family friend who is nearly 30 years his junior, regarding inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Mrs May was heavily critical of the police in the way they carried out the raid on Green’s parliamentary office in 2008, when the pornography was discovered. One might fairly say that the former Home Secretary was not quite so robust when members of the public were victims of unlawful, high-handed and/or heavy-handed treatment by cops.

The first port of call for a member of the public having difficulties with the police should be his elected policing representative, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), voted in by the public for that very purpose. Regrettably, the PCC for West Yorkshire is Mark Burns-Williamson, one of the worst in the country, in a field of plenty. His approach throughout the Elam fight for justice has been nothing short of disgraceful: He firstly lobbied his Labour colleague, Gerry Sutcliffe, to drop his involvement with the miscarriage of justice case. Burns-Williamson then, as he invariably does in other complaint cases, simply adopted the police postion without making independent enquiries: So, in the PCC’s eyes, Elam is a notorious Russian mafia gangster and unworthy of the assistance of the officer paid to perform that function. But when asked by Mr Sutcliffe to provide evidence, or substantiation, of that position  he could provide none. In fact, he refused to answer correspondence.

For a series of investigations into John Elam and others, that Gerry Sutcliffe believed had cost, in total, approaching £100 million of taxpayers money, and, at times, occupied up to 300 officers, the PCC ought really have been a great deal more rigorous in challenging the police narrative.

As far as West Yorkshire Police is concerned, their treatment of John Elam continues to be highly questionable. Despite almost ten years of intensive covert surveillance, of the most intrusive nature one can imagine, there was not one scrap of evidence that he fits their bizarre description as an international drug-running, money laundering, Russian mafia gangster produced at his trials. Despite many requests from Elam, his legal representatives, his MP’s, there has not been any evidence of the same genre produced in the intervening 11 years, either. Which makes the Burns-Williamson stance even more inexplicable.

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John Elam, in his office in Leeds, sizing up the next land development project.

He looks a long, long way from that, sloshing about on a brownfield construction site in Bradford in torrential rain on a cold, sleeting December morning rallying his workers from the front. Yet still the police pursue him; smearing him with banks and professional associates, making life as difficult as they possibly can to put his undoubted, almost unequalled, business acumen to use as a property developer. Very few would be able to start with less than nothing, from gypsy stock, and legitimately turn that into a £multi-million fortune.

There is also this troubling whiff of racism, and all the resentment infecting people of such unpleasant disposition, that appears to permeate into almost all of WYP’s actions. Is it the gypsy blood and the ability to wheel and deal, making ‘easy money’ by putting ‘back to back’ land packages together that gets their goat?

One senior WYP officer is alleged to have said at the time of the Sutcliffe adjournment debate: “How did that gypsy f****r get his case on the telly like that”.

Every complaint made on behalf of John Elam (he is in the later stages of his life, having made and lost several fortunes, getting to grips with reading and writing) is airily batted away by the police. Then kicked further into the long grass by the thoroughly disgraced IPCC (now the similarly disgraced IOPC). Aided and abetted by a police complaints system deliberately re-designed, in 2011, to hamper the public at every turn.

Two long-serving officers turned up to meet Elam at Gerry Sutcliffe’s office in Bradford in 2014, Simon Bottomley and Osman Khan. Both DCI’s at the time, who have gone on to be Heads of PSD at WYP. Bottomley is the present incumbent, having succeeded Khan last year. Both have a chequered history amongst those members of the public who have had the misfortune to complain against their local police force. Their disposition towards John Elam and Mr Sutcliffe was agressive and confrontational throughout. They had turned up in place of Andy Brennan, who had done a ‘moonlight flit’ and left WYP shortly before he was due to meet with the MP and Elam, as Damian Green had indicated he would. When Elam spoke to Brennan by phone he could offer no explanation for his ‘retirement’ from WYP. The meeting produced nothing of use to the fight for justice. The barriers were up and stayed up.

The stigma of the 7/7 bombings, and the effect of the withdrawal of WYP’s specialist counter-terror officers onto what appeared to be an almost wholly disproportionate vendetta, also rankles deeply with the force’s hierarchy. Further discrediting Elam is one of the only ways they can salve their conscience after 56 people died at the hands of three radicalised suicide bombers from Leeds, and one from Kirklees.

The CCRC did, eventually respond in April, 2016, three years and three months after the submission of the Elam appeal to them. Their detailed findings, and the flaws inherent within them, including what appears strongly as ‘verification bias’ and a lack of basic investigative rigour will be the subject of a separate, but linked, article on this troubling miscarriage of justice case.

The CCRC provided no satisfactory answers on the key issues concerning:

(i) Richard Shires and his dual and contemporaneous role with Yorkshire Bank and WYP.

(ii) The provenance of the Production Order which took nine years for WYP to eventually produce (in the end to Gerry Sutcliffe) and the Yorkshire Bank are adamant was never served on them at any time.

(iii) The true status of the alleged police informant, Andrew John Rudd. Whom it is said was acting as agent provocateur.

(iv) The classification of John Elam as a Category AA prisoner. Extraordinarily, and quite independently as an investigative journalist, I have obtained access to that information and about which there will be a seperate article naming the officer who provided what appears to be false and malicious information to HMP’s Director of High Security.

(v) The identity of the police officer who turned up at John Elam’s home in Scarcroft and demanded £150,000 in cash up front, and £30,000 per annum thereafter, ‘to make your [John Elam’s] problems go away’. No enquiries were made as to the whereabouts of the film from a covert camera situated in a bird box in a tree opposite (in the garden of a former Leeds United goalkeeper, Nigel Martyn).

(vi) The continued smearing of him as a very serious organised drug-running, money laundering, Russian mafia criminal, absent of even the smallest scrap of evidence.

What they did do, incredibly, was have at least one face-to-face briefing with West Yorkshire Police, the very organisation whose serious, and proven, wrongdoing was at the heart of the Elam CCRC appeal. It appears to have escaped the attention of the CCRC that WYP has the worst record of any police force in the country when it comes to serious, high profile miscarriages of justice. Dating back to the 1970’s and the deeply shocking Stefan Kiszko and Judith Ward cases (read more here). They are a police force that simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth or not tamper with evidence and/or witnesses. That is not fanciful speculation, it is an inalienable fact.

Most crucially, what they CCRC didn’t do was exercise their extraordinary powers to obtain disclosure independent of the police and prosecution filters or barriers. If they had, they would have discovered, as I have done, that covert surveillance on John Elam began accidentally in 1998 when an operation (my informant who worked on the case cannot recall the name) was mounted in East Leeds targetting other persons of interest to the police. Elam was a business associate of one of them. West Yorkshire Police say they have not been able to trace the operational name either, despite very specific information being provided to them that should make it a straighforward task

An operation that followed, codenamed Primary, did target John Elam but yielded nothing after three years of intensive, intrusive surveillance as they tried to link him to WYP’s ‘most wanted man’, Dennis Slade. A career armed robber whom the police fitted up in 2010 for a murder conspiracy he wasn’t part of. There was never any connection to find between the two men, socially or in business dealings, except for a fleeting introduction in a Leeds pub one evening. Slade’s conviction on that murder count was quashed by the Court of Appeal and the charged dropped one week into the re-trial in April, 2019 (read more here).

West Yorkshire Police misled Damian Green when they stated that surveillance on John Elam only began in 2005. It would have seriously harmed their case if the obsessive vendetta had been found to have begun five years earlier.

For my own part I can say this: I’ve known John Elam for seven years and either I am blind and stupid or he is a hard-working family man, unfailingly courteous, would walk a mile to do a man a good turn, would turn around rather than do him a bad one. His office is on one of the busiest corners in Leeds, he operates in a highly competitive business arena but appears to have the respect of his peers. Deals get done, and the wheels of the diggers and trucks turn. He is in the public eye insofar as he regularly takes his daughter and grandson out for meals and spends many weekends with them at their caravan at the East Coast seaside. That is not the lifestyle of a mafia gangster.

Like me, he abhorrs any form of narcotics and will not tolerate their use in his presence.

What I can’t say: That there is any evidence at all that he is the major criminal portrayed by the police. He is a one man band and has no association with any gang, apart from those carrying out groundworks on construction sites. He has the same computer in his office that he has had all the time that I’ve known him; he freely gives me access to that. He has just one ancient mobile Nokia phone that, apart from making and receiving calls, he struggles to use. There are no burner phones or SIM cards; no sophisticated means of encrypted communication used routinely by criminals, even the not-so-serious ones these days; no firearms; no weapons (and he wouldn’t even try to beat me in a fist fight). Nothing at all to support the notion of a criminal lifestyle and enforcer. His mode of transport is a 4 year old Ford Ranger open-backed pick-up truck. Not ideal if you are transporting illicit goods, cash or weapons.

What John Elam does have is a burning sense of injustice. It will never leave him. Why else, nine years after he was released from prison would he still be battling the police and the criminal justice system, spending whatever money he can raise on lawyers, trying to clear his name. The reader is invited to draw their own conclusion from that and look out for the follow-ups to this article which will appear in the coming weeks. This is a story that will run and run.

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Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West

APPEAL: If any retired or ex-West Yorkshire Police officer wants to come forward, anonymously or otherwise, with information that may assist in answering the questions still posed by this troubling case, they are asked to contact, in complete confidence, the office of John Elam’s MP, Alex Sobel. The Member for Leeds North West has been assisting Mr Elam, particularly with disclosure issues, for the past eighteen months. He has promised efforts will be made to secure a second adjourment debate in order to fill the gaps from the first one six years ago. They are, however, difficult to come by and Alex has not been at all lucky in the ballots that take place when pursuing other issues on behalf of constituents.

Alex secured a resounding victory at the recent General Election, securing a third term in office with a substantially increased majority. Very much against the trend for the Labour Party. John Elam, as a constituent campaigned strongly amongst his family, friends and associates for an elected representative he holds in high personal and professional regard.

 

Page last updated at 1650hrs on Tuesday 28th January, 2020.

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Lamp fails to light the way

Seven years ago today, The Times newspaper informed its readers that Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary had appointed Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to investigate corruption allegations involving a neighbouring force (read the article in full here).

The notorious West Yorkshire Police (WYP), whose miscarriage of justice history stretches back almost 50 years, are accused of a widescale force-wide ‘cover-up’ in the case of ex-PC Danny Major, a graduate probationary officer who was jailed for an assault on a teenaged prisoner, held in Leeds Bridewell, after WYP colleagues testified against him in three criminal trials.

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PC Danny Major pictured as a young officer in Leeds

The first trial, in 2005, was stayed as an abuse of process; the second, in April 2006, declared a mis-trial after the jury could not reach a majority verdict; the third in November, 2006, saw Major convicted of two counts of common assault and sentenced to 15 months in prison. He served 4 months before being released on licence in March, 2007. The offences took place in September, 2003. The victim, Sean Rimmington, was a lairy 6’4″ amateur rugby league player who had drunk himself senseless and was found at around 4am propped against the old Millgarth Police Station in central Leeds.

After an inexplicable delay of over five years, Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s perenially ineffective Police and Crime Commissioner, finally referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) after complaints that officers’ testimonies were unreliable and that other key evidence, including closed-circuit television footage, was withheld from the defence during those trials.

Like the PCC, in his former life of Police Authority Chairman, the IPCC had also previously rejected the complaints made by Danny’s mother, Bernadette Major, after what appeared to be a closed, compromised, rigour-free, highly partial assessment of the issues raised against the police, in 2007. Those were, of course, the police watchdog’s familiar trademarks and, many years too late, they were eventually dissolved in December, 2018 after a lengthy series of national scandals, often involving loss of life at the hands of the police, and of which the Major enquiry was just one relatively minor part. No life was lost, but many were ruined.

I was namechecked in The Times article and freely credited, at the time, by both the Major family and GMP, as the campaigner singularly responsible for the reluctant change of heart by the two Commissioner bodies and the instigation of the ‘outside force’ investigation. Sampson and Burns-Williamson had branded the Major family ‘persistent complainants’ (a fate that has befallen many others, including myself) and the IPCC had previously placed them in ‘special measures’ with a single point of contact (SPOC) stonewalling their enquiries and entreaties. The SPOC, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had a vested personal interest in maintaining the status quo.

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An extract from The Times article of 26th January, 2013. It was headlined ‘Police force accused of cover up faces corruption inquiry’

WYP, and the IPCC, for their part, maintained a resentful silence after the referral but I was, over the succeeding three years to be attacked by both those policing organisations claiming harassment against officers whom I’d named as failing in their public duties. Neither succeeded; the IPCC via the civil courts and WYP via a lengthy criminal investigation, but the attrition, undoubtedly, left a lasting toll. To this day, I am continually harassed by WYP as they regularly instruct lawyers to seek to have me removed from courtrooms from which I am reporting as an accredited journalist. So far, those lawyers, and the police force, have only succeeded in making even bigger fools of themselves.

GMP, in the guise of ACC Garry Shewan, the Gold Commander, also pulled a harassment rabbit out of the hat when he was caught out, telling at least one lie, just six months into the Danny Major investigation, randomly codenamed Operation Lamp. That complaint also came to naught, except that I refused to have anything further to do with him. I was widely reviled for calling out Shewan on social media, and in articles written at the time, as he enjoyed a high profile and appeared to be a very popular senior policing figure. In my own experience he was a pompous, shallow and, at times, quite ludicrous individual.

The succeeding years saw Shewan fall into disgrace as police whistleblowers came forward to reveal both his own integrity shortcomings and the wider, and deeply entrenched, ‘cover-up’ culture cascading down from the top of the Greater Manchester force of which he was, of course an integral (and some say central) part. The best read article on this website, even though it was only published a few months ago, covers in some detail that propensity. It can be read in full here.

Shewan was also very largely responsible for one of the biggest in-house disasters the UK police service has ever encountered. A £27 million IT transformation project, nicknamed iOPS, which he formulated, procured and implemented has turned into an £80 million (and rising) nightmare for the Manchester force. I’ve written thousands of words on the topic (read more here) and appeared on an ITV Granada Reports programme that put the extent of the scandal into the public domain for the first time (view here).

When the terms of reference for Manchester’s Danny Major investigation were set. Shewan acted on behalf of his force and I represented the Major family in that process as their on-record complaint advocate. Fraser Sampson, the PCC’s slippery chief executive completed that particular triangle. He was the public official whom, it is generally acknowledged by insiders, was mainly responsible for continually blocking the Major family’s fight for justice prior to 2013. For Sampson, a man whom I have found to be a stranger to the truth on more than one occasion, and called him out on it face to face, it very probably comes down to money: Danny Major would be entitled to £millions in compensation for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, loss of status, reputation, salary, pension and associated benefits if his name is eventually cleared at the Court of Appeal. Every year that goes by compounds the figure dramatically. It would fall to Sampson, as WYP’s general counsel, to settle the claims and sign the cheques.

It was at my dogged insistence that the term “go where the evidence takes you” was included for reference by the Operation Lamp investigators. The relevance of that demand was to unfold dramatically just under three years later.

In December, 2015, a redacted version of the Operation Lamp investigation outcome was finally released to the Major family. Shewan and another officer with whom I had clashed, C/Supt Paul Rumney, had sat on that report for 12 months. There was no credible explanation for the delay. The Lamp outcome ran to 506 pages, with seven additional volumes of evidence.

Although I have not seen that version of the report, from what was reported in the media elsewhere, it completely vindicated what I had said to crime reporter (now crime and security editor), Fiona Hamilton, at The Times in January, 2013.

The Major family and I split in the days before the publication of the Lamp report, although cracks in the relationship had appeared a little earlier, once Ian Hanson, the Chairman of the GMP Police Federation had become involved with them. His mission, it seemed at that time, was to drive a wedge between us, by promising the earth to the Major family, provided I was kept at arm’s length and any media activity involving me very much muted.

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Ex-GMP Federation Chair, Ian Hanson

Later events, including the emerging fact of Hanson’s close friendship with the present chief constable, the now disgraced Ian Hopkins, considerably fortify that belief. This is an article I first published in December, 2015 in response to Hanson’s ‘deal’ with the Majors (read in full here). It was later updated to reflect information that had become publicly available in the meantime.

In my certain knowledge, Hanson was viewed by well-known and well-respected police whistleblowers as an over-promoted, self-regarding, under-achieving, and, perhaps ungenerously, as a ‘command team quisling’. His standing does not appear to be overly high with his successor at the Fed, either, if one reads closely into the election publicity of Stuart Berry. Interestingly, Berry’s relationship is, reportedly, very different when it comes to dealing with the chief constable and the new Chairman is prepared to forcibly stand his ground, where necessary, to protect the interests of his Members.

But, for all that, Hanson achieved what he set out to do and the Majors were now isolated and at the mercy of the same institution, the police service, that, apparently, ‘fitted-up’ Danny and then, and about this there is no doubt, engaged in a persistent, long-running, grotesque, multi-agency ‘cover-up’. Personally, and professionally, I found that action by GMP, and its tame acceptance by the Major family, profoundly disappointing. Not least because I had been asked to write the book about the Danny Major miscarriage of justice – and it was always understood that I would manage media relations exclusively on their behalf once the Lamp report was published.

In the event, I was dropped like a stone and it is as though I never had any part to play in the family’s fight for justice. Nevertheless, life goes on and the Lamp report produced some sensational headlines in the local, regional and national media. It also received extensive coverage on network television. Danny Major thought the battle was won and he was about to be cleared and return to work as a police officer (he was promised a job with GMP as part of the Hanson ‘package’). But to me, given my inside knowledge, the Lamp report was fundamentally flawed. There had not been a single arrest or prosecution. Or, so it seems, not even one interview, under caution, of any suspect. Greater Manchester Police had NOT gone where the evidence took them, as they were required to do under the terms of reference. It would impact on everything that follows.

At least two officers escaped justice during that near three year investigation period. The most obvious was ex-PC Kevin Liston, a serial criminal whom had been protected for almost 10 years by West Yorkshire Police (read more here in a piece I first published in 2012). He was the main prosecution witness against Danny Major. Without Liston maintaining the stance he took before and at trial, however weak and implausible that was, then the whole case against Major falls apart. The Lamp report describes his evidence at trial as: ‘either deliberately, or inadvertently, misleading the court’.

As can be seen from that Liston article, and prior to the commencement of the Lamp investigation, a list of fifteen criminal offences committed by the miscreant officer had been compiled by the family, and myself, using a variety of police and other insiders. The Manchester detectives were to tell Eric Major, himself a retired police officer with 31 years service, that the schedule was 70% correct: The Lamp team had compiled their own list of 22 offences. There is no evidence in the public domain that Liston has been prosecuted for any of them. The readers of this article are invited to form their own view on that bizarre situation.

By a curious coincidence, my family owned a property in Baghill Lane, Pontefract for many years, less than 200 yards from Liston’s home in an adjacent street. It was sold 3 years ago.

No other journalist has ever questioned why a police officer has been given such licence to commit an alarmingly long list of criminal offences and enjoy complete immunity from prosecution. Neither has the role of the IPCC been questioned in this long running scandal, as it quite properly should. Their officers were complicit in the ‘cover-up’ from a very early stage. A point I made repeatedly to Operation Lamp detectives in the early stages of their investigation in 2013. There is no mention of this in the investigation outcome, yet the evidence examined by Lamp should, most certainly, have taken them there.

The other WYP officer to evade meaningful investigation and sanction during the Lamp investigation was former detective inspector Michael Green. As the architect of the apparently malicious Danny Major prosecution, that has regularly been described since as a ‘fit-up’ and, at the very least, one of the instigators of a 10 year police ‘cover-up’, he should, very arguably, have been charged with at least one of two criminal offences: Misconduct in public office or perverting the course of justice.

The Lamp report, disappointingly, limited comment on Green to ‘poor investigative rigour and a mindset that could be described as verification bias’.  It reveals that he failed to recover four out of the six video tapes containing the CCTV output in Leeds Bridewell and failed to interview the officer who was in charge of the control room and monitored that CCTV on the fateful night. The two VHS tapes that were used at trial had been edited in a way that did not assist the defence team at all. Green is alleged to have been the officer who scripted those cuts. He also admitted under cross-examination that he had never viewed either of the tapes. There was also a fairly lengthy list of other disclosure failings uncovered by the Manchester detectives.

At Danny Major’s trial at Bradford Crown Court HH Judge Roger Scott stated that Green was, in his estimation, ‘Inefficient, incompetent and ineffective – and that just covers the i’s, the rest of the alphabet may follow later’. The learned judge was being generous. To those insiders, including myself, who have had access to the relevant case materials, the letter ‘c’ would have been a better place to start: ‘Criminal, corrupt and contempt (of court)’

The same judge also told West Yorkshire Police at the outcome of the trial that he anticipated a full investigation to be carried out in relation to events at the Leeds Bridewell on the night of the assault and, further, expected that several police officers should face criminal charges as a result of the evidence presented at trial. That criminal investigation never took place and the sham misconduct proceedings, that were put in its place instead, were abruptly shut down immediately after Green was interviewed as part of that process by another serial Professional Standards rogue, ex-detective inspector Damian Carr. As a result, not one WYP officer had a single misconduct finding against them as a result of the Danny Major ‘fit-up’. Carr was also, effectively, Kevin Liston’s PSD ‘minder’ for a period of around 5 years during which a significant amount of offending occured.

In another coincidence, Michael Green was in the twilight of his rugby career at Wakefield RUFC as I was beginning mine at neighbouring Sandal. He contacted me several times in 2012 and 2013, protesting his innocence and claiming the Majors were not telling the truth, and asked to meet me at Sandal for a pint (of beer) and a chat. I declined his offer. The case against him, on my reading, was incontrovertible and, indeed, the uPSD (un-Professional Standards Department) website (www.upsd.co.uk), launched in 2012 was named with Green very much in mind.

In February, 2016, West Yorkshire Police referred the ‘explosive’ Operation Lamp report back to the IPCC (now re-badged as the IOPC) who promptly returned it to WYP for ‘local investigation’. They said, in a statement at the time, that Greater Manchester Police had been invited to carry out a second review in February “to investigate whether, in their view, there are any criminal and/or misconduct matters to answer”. The force, curiously, declined to provide the terms of reference for the second investigation, codenamed Operation Redhill.

A third coincidence, if indeed it is one, is that both PCC Burns-Williamson and myself were brought up in the area of Castleford (Glasshoughton), adjacent to Redhill, and Eric Major served for a part of his career at Pontefract police station, just a couple of miles away.

Will Danny Major ever be cleared? I sincerely hope so, but we are now one month into a new decade, seventeen years after the assault on Sean Rimmington took place in Leeds Bridewell; thirteen years since Major was released from jail; seven years to the day since the article in The Times that promised to light the way to justice. To date, no-one has been prosecuted for the offences for which PC Major was tried and cleared and, more particularly, those for which he was convicted. Without the perpetrator(s) being identified, and either cautioned or convicted, then his name can never be cleared. That is how the criminal justice system works. With the passage of time, and the almost four years now taken by the Operation Redhill team on the follow up to Lamp, it strongly suggests that the two police forces are simply running down the clock. Aided and abetted, of course, by the ‘police watchdog’ in the game of pass the ‘explosive’ parcel.

Will the convictions be quashed? Nine years ago, when I was first given access to the case files and the family’s own quite brilliant investigative work, I was confident that goal was achievable, even though it requires a very high evidential and legal bar to be overcome. More so, when I was able to obtain other materials for the family, including the ‘breakthrough’ disclosure from the IPCC, via a data subject access request, that ultimately led to Operation Lamp. After the investigation report was published, everyone involved in the case assumed it was a formality – and I would place myself in that category. But the Criminal Case Review Commission ended their second review of the Major file some time ago (it began in March 2016) with no plans to re-visit until after the conclusion of the Opertion Redhill investigation. They refused a referral to the Court of Appeal after their first review which began in, or around, 2009.

It is, in my informed submission, now unlikely the CCRC will ever make that crucial referral back to the Court of Appeal, without the necessary conviction of the officer(s) in Leeds Bridewell that night who did assault Sean Rimmington. The list of suspects is small, but the evidence necessary to prove it is now, very likely, inaccessible. Also, the will of both the Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire police forces to instigate such a prosecution simply appears not to be there. How else can a second investigation, to simply review the first (which over-ran by two years), take four years, unless there are political machinations being ground out in the background?

Some of those political machinations will, doubtless, involve such as Angela Williams (famously described as “thick as a brick” by Bernadette Major) who is now an assistant chief constable in WYP. As a superintendent in PSD she was the first officer to make adverse decisions concerning the Major family’s complaints.

John Robins, the presennt WYP chief constable has twice held the command team portfolio for Standards (District) or Professional Standards (HQ) since July 2012 when he was promoted from chief superintendent.

Five heads of WYP’s Professional Standards Department all participated, to some degree at least, in the ‘cover-up’ of the Danny Major scandal and the persistent offending of Kevin Liston: They are Mark Bradley, Ian Kennedy, Sarah Brown, Andy Battle, Marc Callaghan. Kennedy labelled me “a crackpot” and Battle told me to my face, at police HQ, I was “a security risk”. Bradley I had nothing to do with. Brown I found lacking in integrity; ineffective and inefficient, Callaghan styled himself “Big Boss Hogg” on social media and the Dukes of Hazzard TV characterisation of “ineffectual, amusing bad guy”  did seem to fit in with my own dealings with him.

The IPCC casework manager who rejected the appeal against Williams’ decision is now a senior figure within the disgraced police watchdog which was forced to change its name in 2018 to the IOPC.

The pivotal roles of Fraser Sampson and Mark Burns-Williamson in the Major ‘cover-up’ will also be a political factor in what is an election year for police and crime commisssioners.

Finally, would it have made any difference if the Major family had continued to have me at their side, rather than trading me out in exchange for Ian Hanson and what appears to be a bag full of empty promises?

Personally, I think it would:

  • More searching questions would have been asked over Operation Lamp than appeared to be the case at the time, notably the ‘where the evidence takes you’ issue and why GMP had ducked out of it.
  • The Major case would have been a platform – and pinch point – from which to help expose other serious corruption matters within West Yorkshire Police and visibly assist others in bitter struggles for justice.
  • The terms of reference and timescale for Operation Redhill would have been fought over tooth and nail – and both GMP and WYP left in no doubt that private prosecutions would be laid against Kevin Liston and Michael Green if the police were not prepared to see the job through inside twelve months. 
  • The Redhill investigation would not have taken almost four years, either, because , after one year, there would have been a group of us camping outside GMP HQ in North Manchester, accompanied by video cameras broadcasting daily on social media.
  • Pressure would have been brought to bear in Parliament. Most notably with an evidence session at the Home Affairs Select Committee.

But, regrettably, we are where we are, and the last words, of course, must go to Danny Major himself:

“This case has been all-consuming. I still wake up in the night thinking about it,’

“But I am very determined to clear my name. I will never stop. In fact, everything that I worked so hard for is based upon me clearing my name.”

 

Page last updated at 1445hrs on Sunday 26th January, 2020.

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Hero police officer sues chief constable over racial and religious discrimination

On Thursday 16th January, 2020, at the Leeds Employment Tribunal centre, a final hearing into claims of racial and religious discrimination against West Yorkshire Police will open. A serving police sergeant, Umer Saeed, is the claimant. An accomplished individual, with a BSc degree in Business Administration and Management and over 20 years experience as a police officer; a large part of that in specialist roles.

The hearing is expected to last for twelve court days with some highly-charged evidence expected to be heard from the witness box. Cross-examination is likely to be a lively affair as WYP’s ‘go-to’ counsel, Olivia Checa-Dover, yet again takes the stage. She has recently represented the police in two other high profile civil court cases, featuring a Bradford doctor, Abdul Rashid (read more here) and a retired police constable, Kerry Perkins (read more here).

Umer Saeed is represented by Rebian Solicitors and their instructed barrister is Adam Willoughby of Broadway House Chambers.

As many have done before him, Saeed alleges that the ‘cover-up’ of discrimination, both against him and others in the force area, goes to the very top of the force’s hierarchy. It is anticipated that around twenty witnesses will give testimony to the tribunal, unless their witness statements are admitted into evidence in the meantime. It is customary in these proceedings for the police to turn up with a small army of lawyers, witnesses and observers, regardless of cost to the taxpaying public.

The well-informed might, quite rightly, muse as to why the chief constable did not take steps to compromise the Saeed claim, with its high potential for serious reputational and financial damage to the force. But it may well be that he was overruled by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s highly litigious chief executive, Fraser Sampson. A noted wastrel when public funds are in issue. His wider role also encompasses general counsel to the police, giving him overall control of the force’s legal department. Indeed, from personal experience, I can say that he regards the WYP Head of Legal Services with scarcely concealed disdain.

The PCC signs off all cheques for the police, of course, as part of his statutory remit. His office has not responded to a press enquiry on the subject of diversity and inclusion – and how they come to be facing the class, and scale, of allegations made by Sergeant Saeed.

Interest in the case is, undoubtedly, heightened when one takes into account the standing of Umer Saeed as a nationally known figure in Black and Muslim staff associations. He is Chair of the West Yorkshire Black Police Association, and General Secretary and a Cabinet Member of the National Black Police Association.

He is also a trained Police Federation representative and speaks four languages; Arabic, Punjabi, Slovak, Urdu. He joined the police service in June, 1999.

In February 2015, he received national prominence when he broke into the kitchen window of a burning house and saved the lives of a mother and two young children in Ireland Wood, Leeds. It was an outstanding act of bravery and Saeed had this to say of his heroism: “The smoke was acrid and I couldn’t breathe but I was focused on finding them and getting them out in one piece. It was quite a disorientating situation with the smoke alarm going off.”

His District Commander, Temporary Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain, quite rightly commended the officer’s work: “PC Saeed clearly displayed the qualities of bravery and professionalism that we so often see from our officers and staff in situations where people are in danger.

“He could see this family needed immediate help and his training gave him the confidence to assess the situation and intervene to bring them to safety from a potentially life-threatening situation.”

Hussain has since moved onto Greater Manchester Police, in controversial circumstances (read more here), and a well placed source on his old patch tells me he has not sustained that support for his fellow BME officer over Saeed’s discrimination claims. This would surprise few close to the seat of the action at both GMP and WYP, as ‘top brass’ closing ranks at the first sign of trouble for them, either individually or as as a police force, is de rigeur. Indeed, Hussain has been reported recently as claiming that well-evidenced and highly publicised criticism of his present chief constable, Ian Hopkins, by some distance the worst in the country (read more here), constitutes ‘a hate campaign‘.

As a footnote, and by way of balance, it should be noted that, back in 2013, Umer Saeed also featured in the high profile Anthony Ramsden case, involving WYP and the thoroughly disgraced Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), following an assault at Leeds United football ground in 2011. A widescale, dishonestly grounded  ‘cover-up’ by both the police force and watchdog was, eventually, exposed.

A High Court case that followed is now an oft-cited legal authority in police complaints cases. Saeed was one of six Police Support Unit (PSU) officers giving evidence whom the force, and the IPCC, claimed ALL corrobated one another. When disclosure was eventually wrested from WYP, not ONE single statement corroborated ANY other. The judgment (read in full here) did not reflect the full transcipt of the proceedings which, at very considerable expense, Mr Ramsden took the trouble to obtain. Another demonstration of the seemingly unwritten public policy of at least some of the local judiciary that demands every conceivable accommodation be granted to West Yorkshire Police when determining matters potentially adverse to the public’s confidence in them.

No criticism of PC Saeed (as he was then) should be inferred: Even though he was the only officer who admitted striking a member of the public, in the subject area outside the Elland Round ground, with his long baton, and, therefore, the one most likely to have hit Mr Ramsden, his witness statement was easily the most frank, and credible, of the six.

I declare a professional interest, having acted as police complaints advocate for Mr Ramsden, and being adjacent to the facts throughout. I also assisted in the placement of widespread local, regional and national media coverage of the case.

Over the past ten years there has been persistent, and often very damaging, publicity over the way West Yorkshire Police treats its black and minority ethnic (BME) officers and, on the evidence of some troubling civil court cases, members of the public of colour, too.

In May 2009, the Sunday Telegraph published an article following the leaking of a dossier that was highly critical of the force’s notorious Professional Standards Department and their discriminatory handling of complaints against BME’s. This followed a series of accusations from the officials at the local branches of the Police Federation and the National Black Police Association. The WYP talking head was Deputy Chief Constable, David Crompton, later to fall into repeated disgrace as chief constable at beleagured South Yorkshire Police (read more here). He denied there was a problem.

In March 2011, PC Kashif Ahmed had all ten charges against him dismissed by a judge at Bradford Crown Court after revelations about the seriously flawed way officers had investigated the case. HHJ Peter Benson, ruling in his favour to stay the prosecution, found that there was a “very significant irregularity and impropriety at the root of the investigation” and the whole process was “tarnished”.

Judge Benson described two police witnesses, Detective Sergeant Penny Morley and Detective Constable Karen Wade who gave evidence in court during Ahmed’s application to dismiss the case, as “evasive.” He went on to say that Morley, who opened a CD document containing privileged contact between Mr Ahmed and his solicitor, had not told the truth. It is beyond incredible that Morley remained a much-favoured officer in WYP’s Professional Standards Department until ‘retiring’ late last year. Her personal friendship with ACC Angela Williams, who has publicly described Morley as ‘wonderful’, enabled her to re-start at WYP as a civilian officer immediately after her warrant card was handed in. Obviously, on this evidence, being called a liar and rubbish at the job, by a circuit judge, is no handicap in the ranks of West Yorkshire Police.

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Kash Ahmed later issued a civil claim against the police alleging a “witch hunt” against him by the PSD officers, led by another disgraced officer, DCI Steve Bennett (read more here). Having to represent himself in court against the force solicitor, experienced counsel and a small army of officers giving evidence against him, his claim, perhaps understandably, only succeeded in part and he had a sizeable costs award ordered against him.

Dr Rashid, whose civil claim is referred to in the second paragraph of this article, is a highly respected professional, of Asian origin, who also claims, with considerable justification, that he was the subject of a “witch hunt” by WYP and that, in the particular circumstances of his case, if he had been a white, middle-class doctor he would not have been subjected to the same degrading, disproportionate, disgraceful treatment. His civil claim was dismissed after a extraordinarily one-sided hearing, but he was recently given permission to appeal the decision of Mr Recorder Nolan QC, by a High Court judge. The hearing of the appeal is presently listed for 13th February, 2020 in the High Court in Leeds.

Olivia Checa-Dover unsuccessfully sought to have me removed from the press seats during the Rashid hearing, questioning my accreditation and claiming (unspecified) inaccuracies in the reporting of the case (read in full here). The other two articles flowing from that ten day court hearing stand unchallenged. One exposes a prima facie case of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by six WYP officers (read the damning details here). Miss Checa-Dover also objected, unsuccessfully, to my presence in the press seats at the hearing of the Kerry Perkins claim, telling opposing counsel that I had a “vendetta” against her. Yet another in an increasingly long line of ludicrous and unsubstantiated submissions. Unsurprisingly, that gained no traction, either. Miss Perkins has also robustly appealed the judgment of HHJ Neil Davey QC, whose decision did not appear to reflect what I heard from the press box. Indeed, one might say that Miss Checa-Dover might well have written it for him.

Dismissing the remaining parts of the Kashif Ahmed claim against the police, which had included negligence, false imprisonment and theft, HHJ Mark Gosnell said: “I fully accept that Mr Ahmed was convinced in his belief that he had been the victim of a witch hunt, but I consider the officers involved merely carried out their jobs to the best of their ability and were not motivated by any ulterior motive in dealing with the claimant.”

West Yorkshire Police then sought to bankrupt the promising young officer, who holds two law degrees and a diploma in policing. Ahmed now works in Bradford as a legal consultant. The genesis of the entire dispute between force and BME officer was over the use of a car parking space behind Millgarth Police Station, in central Leeds, to which DCI Bennett took exception. The same Bennett whom three years earlier had called a junior Asian officer into his office to verbally abuse him, including calling him a c**t, in an attempt to bully the constable into pulling back on an investigation.

That action was later to unravel in the conjoined Operations, Lamp and Redhill, into the ex PC Danny Major miscarriage of justice (read more here). An allegation has been made that Bennett perverted the course of justice in an attempt to protect PC Kevin Liston, arguably one of the worst officers to ever wear a police uniform (read more here) and the key witness against Major.

After the Ahmed and Danny Major ‘investigations’ (the term is used loosely), in which he was senior investigating officer, Bennett was rewarded with promotion to superintendent. I declare a further interest, insofar as I was the on-record complaints advocate for the Major family betwen 2012 and 2015.

A close working colleague of Bennett’s was Chief Superintendent Sarah Brown. In fact, from 2010 to 2011 she was head of WYP’s Professional Standards Department. I had significant dealings with her and found her unreliable and lacking in integrity. Like Bennett, she had also been city commander of Leeds, with its dreadful history of racism, in the earlier part of her career (read more here). Whilst in that role, and under her previous name and rank of Chief Inspector Sarah Sidney, she was at the forefront of a racial discrimination case involving Detective Sergeant Raham Khan that ultimately reached the House of Lords (the senior appellate court in those days) where a damages award to Sgt Khan, upheld in the Court of Appeal, was set aside by three Law Lords. The full judgment can be read here. Put plainly, Khan alleged that Sidney did not promote him on account of his skin colour. A matter she, of course, denied.

In March, 2011 a Bradford minority ethnic, Anwar Gillespie (whom I have met in his home), received substantial damages and an apology from WYP after the intervention of specialist police complaints lawyer, Iain Gould (read more here). Whilst racism was not alleged, Mr Gillespie told me at the time that he felt the colour of his skin was a factor in him being singled out for an unprovoked, unwarranted and brutal attack upon him, outside of his home and in front of his neighbours.

In June 2012, BBC Radio’s File on 4 reported on alleged widespread and serious racism within WYP. The least impressive of the six serving and former police officers interviewed on the programme was Temporary Chief Constable, John Parkinson. He did little, or nothing, to allay concerns. Of the six officers, past and present, interviewed by the BBC, Parkinson came across as the least impressive. Listen to the full broadcast here.

Karma was to visit Ajaz Hussain, who was the force solicitor (later promoted to Legal Services Director) who drove the Raham Khan case all the way to the Lords. In early 2012, there was a reshuffle of the top management in West Yorkshire Police and he lost his job. The roles of Legal Services Director and Force Solicitor (at that time carried out by Mike Percival) both disappeared. A new role was created and Percival was selected to fill it. Hussain then alleged racial discrimination against David Crompton and issued a claim form in the employment tribunal (read more here). The outcome of that claim has never been made public, but it did not pass without controversy and resulted in the suspension of Hussain’s ‘ACPO police friend’, Neil Rhodes, whom at the time was the chief constable of Lincolnshire Police (read more here) and had fallen foul of the duplicity of Fraser Sampson.

In 2013, two police whistleblowers opened up a can of worms into how certain aspects of vital police operations were badly run and lives put at risk by their superior officers within West Yorkshire Police. One of those was a minority ethnic. They were both then subjected to a series of detriments in what appeared to be a concerted campaign to humiliate and smear them. Because of the roles that the officers undertook, for at least parts of their careers, it is unwise to do any more than make reference to the tribunal appeal finding, available in the public domain, which forensically sets out the matters in issue (read more here). It does not make pretty reading for WYP.

In April, 2014 a Bradford woman of African descent, Oluwatoyin Azeez, was viciously assaulted by a police officer who had unlawfully entered her home on the pretext of checking on her lodger. The force went to the most extraordinary, and sustained, lengths to cover up for the perpetrator, who falsely alleged that he had been asaulted by Ms Azeez. That miscreant officer, instead of being drummed out of the force, didn’t even face a misconduct meeting, let alone a criminal court. But, once more, the intervention of solicitor, Iain Gould, was pivotal. At the end of a bitterly fought three year legal battle – again irregardless of the cost to the public purse – Ms Azeez finally received a substantial damages payment and, much more crucially to her, an apology (read the full harrowing story here).

In April 2016, the incumbent chief constable, Dionne Collins, appointed an Asian police constable as the force’s Positive Action Co-Ordinator. The following month Amjad Ditta, a trained firearms officer, was alongside her giving evidence at the Home Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee.

Following publication of the Committee’s Inquiry Report, which called for “urgent and radical” action, Collins acknowledged more needed be done to increase diversity and inclusion among the workforce and said she was determined that the organisation should be more representative of its communities.

“We are currently recruiting police officers for the first time in five years and this gives us an excellent opportunity to increase our workforce not just by people from black and minority ethnic communities, but from all diverse groups, such as people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual.

“The police service has been in the media headlines a lot recently, often for negative reasons. My challenge to people who may be put off by that is, come and find out what West Yorkshire Police is about in 2016. A career with West Yorkshire Police offers genuinely exciting opportunities, but we can only properly serve all our communities by building a truly representative Force and I am determined to do that.”

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson added: “I have worked with the Temporary Chief Constable (Ms Collins) to ensure we are doing all we can to ensure communities are aware of my commitment to equality and diversity within the organisation and in the police service”.

Whilst Collins and Burns-Williamson were shamelessly uttering these shallow words, before MP’s and the television cameras, they were jointly, ludicrously and very cynically, frustrating the civil claim of Oluwatoyin Azeez. In reality, and grounded in hard evidence, what West Yorkshire Police is about is lying and covering-up – and the commitment to equality and diversity is an expensive box-ticking sham.

Eighteen months after his televised appearance in Parliament, PC Ditta disappeared without trace. With both the force press office and the chief constable refusing to answer my questions regarding his whereabouts or his reason for the removal both from his diversity role and other front line duties. He dramatically re-appeared, over two years later, at Bradford Magistrates Court charged with sexual touching. Supported by his staff association, he is expected to plead not guilty at a plea and trial preparation hearing at the city’s Crown Court on 20th January, 2020. He now answers to the name of Amjad Hussain.

In December, 2017 another race and religious discrimination claim against West Yorkshire Police was compromised on the second day of the final hearing. It is assumed that a confidentiality clause was part of the settlement. No others details are available at present, but enquiries are ongoing. Again, this is on the watch of Dionne Collins: On the one hand preaching diversity and inclusion, on the other officers having to go to court as the force continues to discriminate against them.

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At least two other WYP BME officers appeared Tribunal with racial discrimination claims during this period. Both were, regrettably, unrepresented and had their claims dismissed. One was yet another Collins favourite, PC Tayyaba Afzal, having designed the force’s specialist niqab headwear for Muslim female officers. The other was an applicant for a role as a Driver Trainer.

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PC Amjad Ditta (now known as Hussain) and PC Tayyaba Afzal pictured together in Bradford in 2017.

Dionne Collins was approached for comment. She did not even have the courtesy to acknowledge the communication.

In September, 2018, another case involving a BME officer surfaced as an exclusive on this website, later picked up from here by the national press. The officer concerned, C/Supt Tyron Joyce, was also another favourite of the now retired Collins. Joyce was peremptorily removed from his post as Chief Operating Officer at the National Police Air Service, which shares headquarters in Wakefield with West Yorkshire Police, amidst bullying claims. The complaints investigation into the allegations against Joyce was, unsurprisingly given the incompetents that populate the force’s Professional Standards Department, described as ‘a cack-handed debacle’. He also told a junior colleague at the time: “I’ve been in trouble before with PSD. They tried to do my legs, so I have to be careful what I say to staff” (read more here).

Joyce does, however, always have a trump card to play: In 2013, after the present chief constable, John Robins, (at the time an assistant chief constable) had recommended him for the Police National Accreditation Course (PNAC) it was said by Robins to Tyron Joyce; “You are now my tick in the diversity box“. That may explain why, at the end of the disciplinary process, Joyce was handed the plum chief supers role within WYP: Commander – Operational Support based at, and in charge of, the entire Carr Gate Complex on the outskirts of Wakefield.

I will be reporting from the opening of the Umer Saeed hearing. It promises to be an interesting case: A retired and highly decorated WYP officer told me recently that, whatever the outcome of the tribunal proceedings, the force may well be set back at least a decade in terms of BME recruitment as a result of the adverse publicity the case will attract. As a well-connected person of Asian origin, and one who has defeated WYP in court several times, it is taken as read that he knows exactly what he is talking about.

Finally, it should be remembered that the ‘mother’ of all tribunal claims is a West Yorkshire Police case. Angela Vento, a probationer BME officer, took her force to tribunal following serious discrimination against her in the late 1990’s. Her claim form pleaded racial and sexual discrimination, but the former allegation was dismissed at an early stage by the tribunal.

Eventually the Court of Appeal ruled on the matter and the framework for tribunal awards – and the scales of damages accounting for different levels of detriment – is still in use today. Albeit, the figures have been adjusted upwards to reflect inflation. For the legal nerds amongst my readers they may wish to check out the full CoA judgment (read here).

Page last updated at 1320hrs on Friday 15th January, 2020

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Photo credit: Asian Express

© Neil Wilby 2015-2020. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Kerry Perkins -v- West Yorkshire Police

Please Note: An Order under Section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act has been applied to the reporting of this case. A copy has been posted in the court precinct and in the press office. Details of the restriction cannot be published, but may be obtained from the county court office. The Order has been sent to the Legal Department of the National Union of Journalists with a view to a challenge.

This court report is arranged in reverse chronological order. Latest post appears at the top. Daily updates, where possible, will be provided at lunch adjournment and after court rises at the end of each sitting day:

Tuesday 3rd December, 2019

HHJ Neil Davey QC has found in favour of West Yorkshire Police. ‘Both causes of action fail and the claim is dismissed’. He set out his reasons in a detailed judgment handed down orally in open court, taking just under an hour.

For the second time in just over two months, I’ve sat in this same court in Bradford and listened to a judge deliver ‘cherry-picked’ findings that appear to be from a different trial to the one I’ve sat through from start to finish. The other was Dr Abdul Rashid -v- WYP and the full report of that trial can be read here. That judgment is presently the subject of a permission appeal to the High Court. Manifest, and admitted, breaches of policy, procedure and, arguably, the law were all overlooked. Most incredibly, the judge accepted the proposition that the misconduct of PC Perkins (as she was then), which received the minor sanction of a written warning.

So, West Yorkshire Police remain at large, as an organisation, to cut a swathe through more or less any piece of legislation, such as PACE; CPIA; DPA; and FOIA, as they frequently do on the watch of this court reporter. Authorised Professional Practice, Code of Ethics and their own internal policies are, also, often treated with scant regard. That is a formidable, but not exclusive list. It does not serve the public interest at all well if the judiciary see, as part of an unspoken public policy, to not only ‘whitewash’ these failings, but lionise those officers at the very heart of such breaches. There may be the noble intention of ‘maintaining public confidence in the police service’ but all it does is, conversely and perversely, undermine confidence in the civil and criminal justice systems.

The bereaved families and survivors of the Hillsborough Disaster, and at least two of the journalists who attended Preston Crown Court for all or much of the proceedings, in the re-trial of ex-Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, are of much the same mind. Whilst the scale of the Bradford trial involving West Yorkshire Police, and what was in issue, is miniscule in comparison to Hillsborough, the principle is the same: The State protects its own.

No written version of the judgment, either in hard copy or electronic form, was provided to either the police lawyers, Miss Perkins’ legal team or the press. An anachronism that has no place in the present court system and smacks of laziness on the part of a judge, whom, given his fine reputation, really should have done better. Particularly, as hearing this claim is a post-retirement sinecure without the huge caseload that besets sitting circuit judges.

Central to the judge’s findings was the proposition that a ‘major criminal investigation’, involving twenty-one officers, many of senior rank, into Miss Perkins was necessary and proportionate, and that justified the covert surveillance and obtaining over a year’s worth of data from the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system. The suspected offence was claimed to be Misconduct in Public Office, one of the most serious non-violent offences on the statute book with, consequently, a very high evidential threshold. It carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. That proposition, and the evidence heard from the various police witnesses on that topic, notably retired inspector John Rogerson, viewed from the press seats at least, was nothing short of preposterous. The judge failed to note that the concept of the Misconduct in Public Office offence never featured in any of the contemporaneous, substantive, extensive, wide-ranging, police correspondence or notes, or in Rogerson’s witness statement filed and served in January, 2019. The first Miss Perkins’ legal team heard of this allegation was during Rogerson’s live witness evidence last week.

Despite this, one might think, catastrophic flaw and a generally unconvincing witness box performance throughout (he was shaking like a leaf for the last twenty minutes of it), Rogerson was accorded star witness status by the judge. Along with Karen Gayles, a retired superintendent who signed the ANPR authorisation. The latter features elsewhere on this website. The scandal outlined there, and Mrs Gayle’s role in it, lay to waste much of what she expounded from the witness box (read more here) and does not assist her reliability, or credibility. However, emboldened by that evidence she gave in Court 5 at Bradford Law Courts she may now emerge from her shell and renew her pursuit of her former colleague, Mabs Hussain, now an assistant chief constable in Greater Manchester Police, with the same rigour as she applied to Miss Perkins – and assist with establishing the truth of what appears to be a very troubling matter.

Permission to appeal the judgment, submitted orally by Sarah Hemingway on behalf of Miss Perkins, on the grounds that policies and guidance were not followed on surveillance, was refused by the judge. Ms Hemingway represented her client with commendable tenacity and, together with counsel for the police, Olivia Checa-Dover, was warmly commended by the judge for the assistance given to the court throughout the proceedings.

Costs in the sum of £1,000 were awarded against Miss Perkins. West Yorkshire Police had filed a costs budget of around £60,000 with the court. The taxpayer meets the shortfall, on top of the estimated internal costs of £100,000 that the investigation, and all that followed, has cost the police.

Kerry Perkins said after the verdict: “As a medically retired police officer with 16 years service, the judge’s one-sided assessment of the my former colleagues’ live evidence and his interpretation of the applicable law, guidance and policy is seriously troubling. The possibility, and funding, of a permission appeal to the High Court in Leeds is presently under consideration. I will not be making any further statement until that process is exhausted’.

Monday 2nd December, 2019

Court is not sitting today.

Operation Lapmoor has been referred to a number of times in these proceedings, in open court. In response to a freedom of information request made publicly, via the What Do They Know website, in September 2018 (read full correspondence here), West Yorkshire Police, after the usual stalling tactics, said they could neither confirm nor deny the existence of this investigation, relying on exemptions at Sections 30(3), Section 31(3) and Section 40(5) under FOIA.

Disclosure of the following information was sought:

1. Name of Gold Commander, or names of Gold Group.

2. Name of Senior Investigating Officer.

3. Dates upon which they were appointed.

4. Date operational codename requested.

5. Date police operation commenced, concluded.

6. Policy book, or log. Sometimes known as Blue or Gold book.

a. Date of first entry

b. Date of final entry

c. Number of actions

7. Number of officers deployed on the operation.

It is now known that there was no Gold Commander; no nationally accredited Senior Investigating Officer appointed; the investigating officer was acting inspector John Rogerson, a neighbourhood police officer; there was no policy book kept where decision makers recorded their actions and the rationales for them; the investigation appeared to commence in April, 2014 and completed with a successful appeal by Kerry Perkins against a misconduct meeting finding in April 2015; it appears that the number of officers deployed is TWENTY-ONE, the eight who gave live evidence plus Detective Superintendent Simon Bottomley, Superintendent Pat Casserley, Chief Inspector Suzanne Akeroyd, Chief Inspector Jim McNeil, Detective Chief Inspector Elizabeth Belton, Inspector Dave Bugg, Inspector Grant Stead, Inspector Ian Croft, Detective Constable Iain Harper, Reviewing officer Sarah Morris. The latter seven all worked in the Professional Standards Department either at HQ or District. Senior Human Resources officers, Helen Parkinson, Jayne Christopher, Judith Walker all appeared to be closely involved with Sergeant Astill and A/Inspector Rogerson in the investigation. In summary, there were ten senior officers involved and eleven of lesser ranks: four superintendents, three chief inspectors and four inspectors. All ranged against a part-time, female, disabled police constable who was also a single mother with two small children.

Part of the police case in defending this claim is that the Lapmoor investigation, into a fellow officer’s horse riding hobby, and dog walking, both admitted by police to be in her own time, was lawful, necessary and proportionate.

To her credit, the acting chief constable at the time, Dionne Collins, also became personally involved after a heartfelt plea from Miss Perkins. But, to be fair, it cannot be said that the chief was involved in the investigation.

It does not go to the evidence, or the determination of the Kerry Perkins claim by the judge, but one might argue that WYP hid behind three FOIA exemptions and a misconceived public interest test to conceal from view yet another of their investigations that didn’t even meet the basic tenets of approved professional practice. Another recent and glaring example was Operation Thatcham (read more here).

Conversely and perversely, a freedom of information request seeking almost exactly the same information was answered in its entirety (read more here).

Again, it does not go to the evidence in this claim, and the incidents occured well after the material times in the claim, but John Rogerson’s brother, David, who works in the same police staion at Havertop, near Normanton, featured in this widely shared scandal (the YouTube clip has received approaching 1 million views). Many officers at Normanton refused to identify David Rogerson, including his brother and a number of PSD officers, prior to an information being laid at Kirklees Magistrates Court for an alleged assault on a member of the public in the police station precincts in full view of the CCTV cameras. The district judge issued a warrant against Rogerson, he was summonsed and a trial date was fixed. The Crown Prosecution Service, under relentless pressure from both the Police Federation and PSD, took over the case two days before the trial and discontinued it on public interest grounds. The private posecution had met the evidential part of the Full Code Test. The full story can be read here.

Friday 29th November, 2019

Having heard all the evidence in the claim, the last live testimony having concluded on Thursday aftenoon, closing submissions were heard by the judge, HHJ Davey QC, from counsel for both parties. Sarah Hemingway representing the Claimant, Kerry Perkins, and Olivia Checa-Dover appeared for the Defendant, West Yorkshire Police. Judgment will be handed down in open court next week.

During the evidence, HHJ Davey will have formed his own view on the credibility of witnesses and the reliability of the facts as presented on behalf of Miss Perkins and the police. Eight serving or retired officers gave evidence for the Defendent and one retired police officer, who was also a Police Federation representative, gave evidence for the Claimant.

Ms Hemingway submits that it remains a fundamental right in this country to go about one’s business free from state surveillance, unless such action can be lawfully justified. Furthermore, one’s personal data must not be unlawfully processed and private information must not be misused. Safeguards protecting such principles must be effective in any democratic society.

The court is being asked to make findings on two issues in this case: (i) whether there has been a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 in relation to a police investigation into the private life of Miss Perkins, a part-time police officer, following a horse-riding accident in September 2013; and (ii) whether the police misused her private information.

It is noteworthy, submits Ms Hemingway that it has not, at any time, throughout the investigation into her hobby, or since, been asserted by the police that Miss Perkins was horse riding when she should have been at work. This is an activity that was always done in her own time outside of agreed working hours.

It should be noted that further evidence as to the extent of the police investigation into Kerry Perkins has only come to light at trial this week. Firstly, she was not aware that retired inspector, John Rogerson (who gave evidence on Tuesday and Wednesday), had attended at her children’s school, or telephoned the school, to make enquiries about her children. This was understandably upsetting for the Claimant, given her valid concerns about the impact of this investigation on her children. Secondly, the subject matter of the Public Interest Immunity evidence given by two surveillance officers had a considerable impact on her, given that she thought that the police had been absolutely clear, following an number of data requests and conduct complaints, that there had been no other forms of surveillance done on her. Thirdly, the lead surveillance officer’s evidence (heard on Wednesday) that he had entered onto the private land behind her home, in the early hours of 10 June 2014 and in order to identify her vehicles, while she and her two young children were sleeping in the house, without any lawful authority to do so, has caused further upset.

This case, Ms Hemingway went on to say, appears to be ‘exceptional’ in that no officer giving evidence this week has been able to say with any real certainty that they know of any more than one other misconduct investigation that has involved such methods of surveillance on a serving police officer. James Carter (who gave evidence on Wednesday) of the force’s Central Authorities Bureau went so far as to say that there may have been one case every 4 – 5 years, revised to 3 – 4 years, but was unable to give any specifics. The consequence, therefore, of any finding in favour of the Claimant is unlikely to extend beyond the specific facts of this case, given its highly unusual features.

The police have a duty to maintain an efficient and effective police force, consequent to sections 39 and 39A of the Police Act 1996. Ms Hemingway submitted that suspected breaches of the Code of Ethics must be dealt with by way of an investigation, but only to the extent that any formal investigation is lawful and necessary for a legitimate purpose and is not excessive. The investigation in this case was initiated (by Rogerson) due to concerns that Miss Perkins was suspected of horse riding and driving more than she professed to be able to. In relation to horse riding, Miss Perkins never sought to hide the fact that she had got back in the saddle after her accident and rode, occasionally, in her spare time when she felt up to it. She had posted pictures about it on Facebook (a social media wesite), with some of her Facebook friends, quite naturally, being police colleagues. She stabled her horses at the same place as her friend Inspector Lynne Proctor. And when approached by a local community support officer, Ken Short, she openly told him that she was out on her horse. A statement about this was, eventually, taken from PSCO Short in October 2014. 11. Had Miss Perkins been asked by Sgt Astill (now inspector), Detective Sergeant Bainbridge (now chief inspector), Rogerson, or any other officer, she would have told them that she rode her horse. Yet, each police officer, when cross-examined, admitted they had not sought to take make that obvious, and reasonable, enquiry. Indeed, Ms Hemingway recalls, Rogerson contended in his evidence that he would not have even contemplated doing so, as he ‘would have needed to gather as much information as possible as part of the investigation in order to put all the evidence to Miss Perkins and ask questions under caution’. Other witnesses, including Mr Carter, and retired superintendents Simon Whitehead (who gave evidence on Wednesday) and Karen Gayles (who gave evidence on Thursday), operated on the assumption that she must have been asked, but had not given an answer.

It was further submitted by Ms Hemingway, the police’s own Occupational Health Unit provided a medical opinion (by Dr Williams, Force Medical Advisor) that, “When her symptoms allow, there is no medical reason to debar her from pursuing this activity” and went on to advise “In periods when Kerry is subject to a flare-up of back symptoms I anticipate that horse riding would not be advised, nor indeed possible in the event of a flare-up being severe”. However, that simple request for OHU advice was not made by Rogerson until at least five months after the investigation began. Counsel added to this point by saying that, had these simple initial steps been taken at the outset, it would have negated any reason to conduct an investigation for the purpose of establishing whether Ms Perkins was horse riding, where she kept her horses or whether a back injury would necessarily preclude her from horse riding. Miss Perkins accepts, had those enquiries been made and she had refused to answer, then that would, of course, have been a different matter. But it is submitted that the police cannot reasonably justify such an exceptional Professional Standards Department misconduct investigation, as did take place, in the absence of such attempts to obtain information in a less intrusive manner. In relation to driving, Ms Perkins maintains that she had always explained when questioned that she had good days and bad days as a result of flare-ups of her back condition and that made it difficult for her to commit to commuting to Castleford on every duty day. She explained that she could drive on a longer journey if having a good day but would be limited if having a bad day, which she was unable to predict. Ms Perkins disputes that she ever said that she could not drive any distance, which is how it was presented to other officers involved in the investigation by Mr Rogerson. It is submitted that the UPP process was the most appropriate way to deal with any concerns that the police had about Ms Perkins’ return to her regular part time operational role at Castleford. Nonetheless, even if it was necessary to conduct any formal investigation into her driving abilities, any such investigation, which may well have involved checks on the PNC for DVLA and MID information and reference to ANPR must have been conducted in compliance with the DPA and common law. It is submitted that there were significant contraventions in this case.

Such checks about car details and insurance details were done on both vehicles belonging to Miss Perkins as part of the Rogerson investigation, providing basic data required for Operation Lapmoor (under the Covert Activity Policy) and the ANPR data trawl and analysis.

Ms Hemingway says the answers to the three specific questions is, therefore, contingent upon the learned Judge’s finding in relation to the ANPR and surveillance issues.

(1). In respect of ANPR was processing done lawfully? The written authority was not clear and did not in fact, lawfully, authorise the ANPR data collection, unless the court accepts the evidence of John Rogerson that he was conducting a major investigation into Misconduct in Public Office (which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment). Mrs Gayles’ evidence was that such a major investigation was never mentioned by Rogerson during the briefing and, given that such a purpose was not mentioned in his witness statement or in any other relevant documentation, it is submitted that it is unlikely that was the stated purpose of the application. The fact that PSD felt urged to make enquiries as to whether ANPR searching can be used in a misconduct investigation indicates that the law was not clear. Moreover, the answer to that question was ‘There is no definitive answer which states ‘yes’ or ‘no’ specifically in relation to using recorded ANPR data in a misconduct investigation’. The local WYP policy provides that ANPR can be used in the investigation of crime. It does not refer to investigations into alleged breaches of the code of ethics, or any non-crime related investigations. The Home Office National ANPR Standards states access to data must be solely law enforcement and investigation purposes. Such investigations to fall within three main categories: Major investigations, serious investigations, priority and volume investigations. Mrs Gayles stated that she considered this case to fall within that third category, which includes ‘non-crime issues such as anti-social behavior, vehicle excise offences, road traffic offences and missing persons’. That document does, however, make reference to investigations into alleged breach of the Code of Ethics. It is the only place in the document, or any other relevant policy, that does so and it is unclear how that fits with the three main categories set out above. Nor does it specify the age of the data to be mined as a result of the authority. The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice covers ANPR data. It is submitted that, contrary to Guiding Principles, the rules were not sufficiently clear on who can gain access and for what purpose, when the national standards were considered in conjunction with the local policy and the applicable authorisation form.

(2) Was the processing of data done for a legitimate aim? John Rogerson stated (repeatedly) that the aim of obtaining the ANPR data was in order in investigate Miss Perkins for a major crime, namely Misconduct in Public Office. That was the box that was ticked on the relevant form and, he says, that was the thrust of the briefing he gave to Mrs Gayles, the authorising officer. Mrs Gayles refutes that a major investigation into Misconduct in Public Office was ever discussed in the briefing. Instead, she proceeded on the basis that the investigation was in order to establish whether there had been discreditable conduct/dishonesty on the part of Miss Perkins. However, she accepted undr cross examination that the authorisation form does not reflect that purpose.

(3) Was processing of the data done adequately, relevantly, not excessively? Even if the police can properly rely on the investigation into alleged breaches of Code of Ethics, there is no indication as to how much data (for example, age of data) can be accessed – that box in the table on the (wrong, out of date) form used by Mrs Gayles was left blank. She stated that as authorising officer it would be open to her to determine the age of data to be collected and she would ensure that the scope of the request was proportionate. She authorized the amount of time requested by Rogerson, that is to say, more than one year. It is submitted that, in the circumstances of this case, it was not proportionate to harvest over a years’ worth of data, in any event, but certainly not dating back to a date prior to the injury that occurred on 1st September, 2013. Principle 3 of the Data Protection Act, which is addressed specifically in the WYP local policy on data protection, advises ‘When police computers are designed, consideration is given to information to be held and any forms to be used in collecting it. So long as you stick to information the computer is designed to hold, it would be difficult to argue it is excessive or not relevant’. It is submitted that the relevant form in this instance did not provide for ANPR data collection of over one year in relation to misconduct investigations because it was not considered in developing the local policy and as such the authorisation was not relevant to the data that was collected. It is further submitted that the data, once collected, was then improperly disclosed as part of a misconduct interview on 6th November. 2014.

OPERATION LAPMOOR/ CAP ‘Reconnaissance’ by Rogerson on 29th April, 2014. Whilst  Rogerson initially stated that he had ‘driven past PC Perkins’ home address’, when questioned it became clear that he had parked outside Ms Perkins’ home to observe for a unspecified amount of time, he had then driven to her children’s school (though could not recall whether he attended the school to make enquiries about her children or had telephoned the school), and he had also driven around the area in an attempt to locate the riding stables. It is submitted that enquiries made at the school were unlawful as it constituted collateral intrusion upon the private lives of her young children.

Surveillance on 10th June 2014:

(1) Was processing done lawfully? Ms Hemingway submits that, in this case, the CAP did not indicate with sufficient clarity the scope and manner of exercise of the discretion conferred on the police to conduct surveillance and to store data pertaining to Miss Perkins’ private life. According to Mr Carter’s evidence, the CAP has since been amended, by the police, in order to make it clear. It is submitted that Mr Whitehead did not understand the policy, in particular the distinction that has been made by the police in that Directed Surveillance should come under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) regime. This is not clear in the CAP policy and he, unwittingly, made an authorisation under the CAP for ‘Directed Surveillance’. It is submitted on behalf of the Claimant that the domestic legal framework, outside the RIPA framework, falls back on to the DPA 1998. In the specific circumstances of this case, it was entirely unclear in reference to the policy under what circumstances the police could resort to such covert measures, which do on the face of it appear to engage Directed Surveillance. The CAP is neither legally binding, nor directly publicly accessible. It, therefore, follows that the interference in this case was not in accordance with the law and thus an Article 8 violation. In such circumstances, it also follows that the interference was in breach of the DPA principle of being in accordance with the law. Furthermore, it is submitted that the process of applying for authorisation under the CAP was not even done in compliance with the force’s own procedures. Mr Carter’s evidence was that PSD investigations under CAP are ‘Level 2’, along with major investigations. Such a level of authorisation would require an Authorising Officer to make the decision as to whether to grant authority on an objective basis in a quasi-judicial capacity. However, in this case, for reasons specific to this case, it was decided that District Superintendent Whitehead would authorise the CAP.

(2) Was processing done for a legitimate aim? The ostensible aim of the police, in conducting the Lapmoor operation, was in pursuant to the duty to maintain an effective and efficient police force, which is of course a legitimate aim. Steps taken in that regard, such as the Unsatisfactory Performance Process (UPP), would, no doubt, be justifiable under that stated aim. However, there is evidence in this case that the purpose in setting up Operation Lapmoor went beyond that legitimate aim. The purpose in this case was set out to some extent in the email from Detective Inspector Grant Stead (who did not give evidence) to Stuart Bainbridge (who gave evidence on Wednesday), dated 4th October, 2014. It was suggested that it would be an ideal opportunity for observation training to be utilised, for a successful operation to be used as an example to how to get the message across to the wider force, and to illustrate how PSD assist District with such matters. Such objectives fall outside of the ‘legitimate’ aim and illustrate that the investigation was not motivated solely by a desire to address the specific issues arising in Miss Perkin’s case.

(3) Was processing done adequately, relevantly, not excessively? In any event, Ms Hemingway submits that the nature of the covert surveillance operation was disproportionate in the circumstances. In emails sent to and from John Rogerson on 10/6/14 and 12/6/14 respectively [E:21-22], it is clear that a little research on open source material / google search was sufficient to find the information sought and rendered operation Lapmoor unnecessary. Such a reasonable step to ‘investigate’ such a matter was not done. Such information had been available on open sources, yet instead a decision had been made to obtain a broad ranging authorisation for covert surveillance, involving not insignificant policing hours (including the time it would have taken otherwise busy police staff and a senior officer to consider and draft the appropriate paper work, plan the operation, allocate the resources as well as over 9 hours of police hours in conducting the surveillance on 10/6/14). 42. On any reasonable analysis, it is submitted that such a step was disproportionate and excessive in the circumstances. Information obtained from friends and associates 43. Speaking with friends/ associates at the riding club constituted an interference with Ms Perkins’ Article 8 rights private life. Such steps were excessive and unnecessary given that such information could have been obtained from the outset by simply asking Ms Perkins. Information regarding Ms Perkin’s health and disability 44. This information constituted sensitive personal information under the DPA 1998 and as such had to comply with at least one of the conditions in schedule 3. It is accepted that information relating to Ms Perkins’ health and disability were required in order to make an assessment and assist her back to work, part of which would have included providing a suitable workspace (lumbar support chair and riser desk), albeit that took over a year to source. 45. It is contended that the police were not entitled to medical records from the GP in order to make an assessment in relation to a misconduct investigation. Rather, the reports from OHU and the report from the GP received on 10/11/14, attaching the MRI scan report, was sufficient for the purposes of the misconduct proceedings. 46. Such information in relation to Ms Perkin’s condition however was distributed to an excessive amount of personnel within the police force, in particular during the course of the CAP application. If the learned Judge finds that Operation Lapmoor was unnecessary and / or disproportionate in the circumstances, then it follows that the information relating to Ms Perkins’ health and disability that was distributed by way of emails and reports for the purposes of the investigation was equally unnecessary and disproportionate. What is the extent of the private information obtained and was it misused? 47. Ms Perkins accepts that the information she posted on her facebook page and the information about her competing at a horse-riding event on 22/2/14 do not constitute private information.

MISUSE OF PRIVATE INFORMATION In relation to the questions the judge needs to answer regarding misuse of private information, Ms Hemingway submits that they are: 1) Whether there was a reasonable expectation of privacy? 2) If yes, how should the balance be struck between rights of Miss Perkins and duties of the police? In answering this second question, the judge was invited to take into account the following factors: a) Attributes of Miss Perkins b) Nature of activity c) Place it was happening d) Nature and purpose of intrusion e) Absence of consent f) Effect on Miss Perkins g) Circumstances in which, and purpose for which. info came into hands of the police h) Public interest. The judge was invited to apply the latter test to all categories in the schedule, as agreed between both counsel. In this case, Miss Perkins was horse-riding in her own time, a leisure and sporting activity which can gives rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, as in the cited authority of Hannover v Germany, wherein Princess Caroline of Monaco brought a claim against the German media that had published photographs of her engaging in leisure activities. On the occasions that Miss Perkins did ride, it was mainly on private farm land near her home. It is accepted that there is no reasonable expectation of activities relating to public events that are likely to be reported in different forms of media. That concluded Ms Hemingway’s submissions

Miss Checa-Dover, on behalf of the police, summarises her client’s position to the effect that the investigation into Miss Perkins was lawful, compliant with the Data Protection Act, 1998 and her reasonable expectation of a right to privacy. The chief constable, through her, also contends that the Claimant’s data was processed lawfully and that the misconduct investigation, into alleged breaches of the Code of Ethics, was lawful, necessary and proportionate in order to maintain public confidence in an efficient and effective police service.

The reader is reminded again that the burden of proof in this claim is for the police to prove the lawfulness and proportionately of their actions.

Thursday 28th November, 2019

First witness was retired sergeant, James Carter, who now works as a civilian in the force’s Central Authorities Bureau. His evidence, under cross-examination by Sarah Hemingway, counsel for Miss Perkins, covered complex and, sometimes, conflicting and confusing areas of law and policy, relating to investigatory powers, directed surveillance and covert policing activity. The court heard that Mr Carter had worked in the Bureau for around 10 years, reporting to an officer called Lynton Patz who manages the bureau, and that he was able to assist with the classification of the seriousness of surveillance between Level 1 (lesser crime) and Level 2 (serious crime and Professional Standards investigations) and the difference between ‘directed surveillance’ and ‘surveillance’, in a policing context, and how both were balanced against data protection and Article 8 Convention rights that lie at the heart of this case. Mr Carter told the court that he had actually filled in the Covert Activity Policy application form relating to the surveillance on Kerry Perkins, the Claimant in this case. The applicant was Inspector John Rogerson from whom the court heard quite extraordinary evidence on Tuesday and Wednesday. He had given Mr Carter a verbal briefing and there were no records of notes or documents that supported the application, the court heard. Mr Patz had reviewed the application form and approved it. Ms Hemingway asked Mr Carter why no written application was made by Rogerson, he stated he was ‘not sure that a written memo, in form of email, wasn’t received from him’. No such document has been disclosed to the Defendant’s legal team. The court also heard that this CAP authorisation is one of only two Mr Carter has dealt with against a police officer in his ten years in the Bureau, whom, to his knowledge of the activities of all the other members of his team, dealt with them once every four or five years. He agreed with Ms Hemingway that such action was ‘exceptional’. It also emerged in evidence that he couldn’t recall a discussion with Rogerson regarding enquiries being made directly of PC Perkins (as she was then) regarding her horse riding. He did recall, however, being told she was ‘unco-operative’ over her medical condition. His own policy, as an experienced police officer and Bureau official, he told Ms Hemingway, was to look for less intrusive means of obtaining data, evidence before authorising a CAP.

Next in the witness box was retired superintendent Karen Gayles, who features prominently elsewhere on this website (read more here). In the light of her evidence to the court that article now assumes higher relevance. The court heard that Mrs Gayles was the officer who authorised Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) surveillance on PC Perkins and the harvesting and processing of data from that computerised system for at least 12 months across three counties. Under cross-examination it emerged that Mrs Gayles had relied only on a verbal briefing from an officer whom had plainly, on his own evidence heard in this court earlier in the week, become obsessed by criminalising Miss Perkins; used the wrong form for the authorisation; did not accept that such use made the authorisation unlawful; ticked the box for ‘major criminal investigation’ despite maintaining repeatedly it was ‘a misconduct matter’; at first relied on the premise that the justification for the surveillance was volume or urgent crime, later resiled to alleged breach of Code of Ethics (misconduct by another name); this was the only authorisation she ever made for ‘misconduct’ in her career; authorised at least 12 months of surveillance and would have been prepared to authorise it for 5 or 6 years as a means of ‘being fair to Kerry’; did not know that the vehicles to be surveilled were insured for multiple drivers and, therefore, the objective of the surveillance could not possibly be achieved; did not ask if less intrusive means of surveillance were available; claimed reasonable adjustments had been made for PC Perkins regarding her disability; did not retain her day book as she was required to do under force policy; could not recall if there was an entry in that day book relating to the authorisation; made no notes or minutes of the briefing with Rogerson; did not accept that there were no safeguarding processes in place to check the validity of her actions (or inactions); asserted that her motivation for a ‘robust’ approach to the authorisation, and the proving of misconduct, or otherwise, was ‘austerity’; wrongly claimed that PC Perkins was earning £25,000 per annum. Throughout the cross-examination, Mrs Gayles forcefully repeated that the authorisation was ‘necessary and proportionate’, was lawful and complied with policy.

The last witness to give evidence in this claim was the second surveillance officer known to have attended at Miss Perkins’ home on 10th June, 2014. He cannot be named, for legal reasons, and is referred to here as Detective Y. Most of his evidence was heard in camera; the only question raised in public session was whether he knew of a third vehicle that may have attended at her home on that morning. He said he ‘couldn’t remember’.

Testimony from the three West Yorkshire Police witnesses today completed the evidence in this trial and the case for the defence.

It does not go to the determination of the issues in this trial, but of far wider public concern and a troubling feature, almost throughout this hearing, has been what appears, at close quarters, to be the general conduct and selective memory of serving and retired officers giving witness box evidence, on oath. This particularly applies to the two surveillance officers: Why would a police force continue to deploy specialist, expensively trained officers where core competencies have to be obeying lawful orders; good, clear recollection of events; and accurate recording and/or note taking.

It was revealed in court that Detective Y had received a ‘de-brief’ from Detective X about the latter’s evidence (given on Wednesday afternoon) before the former appeared in the witness box (on Thursday afternoon). At the time of the briefing, Detective Y said he did not know he was to give live evidence, although he had filed a witness statement and was on the original list of those officers expected to appear at the hearing.

Wednesday 27th November, 2019

Proceedings resumed at 10.45am with retired detective inspector John Rogerson continuing his evidence after a dramatic afternoon in the witness box yesterday afternoon.

He was questioned by counsel for the Claimant, Sarah Hemingway, on a number of matters relating to his characterisation of the alleged misconduct Kerry Perkins as ‘a major criminal investigation’. He confirmed that he had told the authorising officer, Superintendent Karen Gayles, of his view on the scale and type of the operation, but such an assertion did not appear anywhere in his witness statement. When it was put to him, he denied that he had ‘shoehorned’ this into his evidence yesterday to fit the contemporaneous documentation. He had no answer to the point that a major criminal investigation, according to national policing policy, would require a nationally recognised and PIP Level 3 accredited Senior Investigating Officer (read more here). The judge, HHJ Neil Davey QC, crystallised this point: WYP’s Professional Standards Department had assessed the matter as misconduct, Mr Rogerson thought they (PSD) had got that wrong and it was a major criminal investigation.

He also confirmed to the court that he had no experience, or knowledge, of the ACPO Code of Practice in relation to accessing the Police National Computer for information extracted from the DVLA or the Motor Insurance Database. Or, indeed, had he ever seen West Yorkshire Police’s own policy document relating to this issue. His strong view was that all his actions relating to the covert surveillance of a junior colleague on his team, including the harvesting, storage and processing of ANPR data across three counties and for over a year, were necessary, proportionate and fell within the ambit of a proper policing purpose. Even though it is an agreed fact in that case that the subject vehicles were insured for multiple drivers.

John Rogerson signed off his evidence by asserting, with some force, when questioned by counsel, that an intrusive and far-reaching investigation into their mother, a serving police officer, over whether, or not, she was driving a horsebox or walking her dog, that he classified as a major criminal investigation, would have impact on two young children or breach their Article 8 Human Rights: “I didn’t see that then, and I don’t see it now. Why would an investigation into a parent have an impact on children?”

Evidence was then heard from Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Bainbridge. It was drawn out in cross-examination by Ms Hemingway that a written assurance given by Inspector Grant Stead to Kerry Perkins turned out to be untrue. It concerned a request regarding his independence and impartiality in connection with an investigation into complaints raised by Miss Perkins. Stead assured her that he had no previous involvement in any misconduct matters pertaining to her. He was, it was heard, the PSD officer who managed the covert surveillance on her and communicated with Mr Bainbridge, his immediate subordinate, by email, on this particular point.

The court also heard that Mr Stead had told the surveillance team headed by Mr Bainbridge that there was to be no mobile surveillance. That instruction, the court heard, was ignored and the two operatives under Bainbridge’s command carried out mobile surveillance, for which one of the two operatives, who will be referred to in these reports as Detective Y, was even not trained. The objective was to find the location of the stables where Miss Perkins kept her horse. When asked by Ms Hemingway if the officers investigating her, Sergeant Astill (as he was then) and Inspector Rogerson (from both of whom the court has already heard) could simply have asked her where the stables were, rather than an expensive, resource intensive policing operation, he said: ‘Possibly, yes’. The court heard that the information the police required regarding the stables was obtained by a Google search undertaken shortly after the initial surveillance activity, which was, the court heard, carried out at the wrong time of day and when Miss Perkins was on police duty.  Mr Bainbridge maintained that the surveillance operation against her was necessary and proportionate. He said that Inspector Rogerson, an experienced Professional Standards detective sergeant before he was promoted to neighbourhood inspector, had tried different ways to obtain the information and failed. He did not elaborate on that but it was heard that they did not include asking Miss Perkins, or an internet search. Mr Bainbridge told counsel that he didn’t ask his former PSD colleague where the riding stables information came from when the authority to carry out surveillance was cancelled by a superior officer. The court heard that Mr Bainbridge made no notes pertaining to this surveillance  in his pocket note book, as he is required to do under Police Regulations.

The next witness cannot be named for legal reasons. He is referred to here as Detective X. Part of his evidence was heard in camera. The report on his evidence will be necessarily brief to avoid the possibility of jigsaw identification. Detective X couldn’t explain to Ms Hemingway, when questioned, why mobile surveillance was carried out against specific written orders from Inspector Stead, or why he went at the opposite end of the day to that discussed between senior officers and recommended by Inspector Rogerson. He also couldn’t explain why his surveillance partner was deployed although not trained for what he was asked to do and no notes of the operation were made in his pocket book. He told the court that he did not know that he had been deployed on private land, in a location identified by Inspector Rogerson, for which he did not have authority. He did agree with counsel when asked about the requirement to assess the necessity and proportionality of what he was doing but could not answer when asked about the experience and training of his fellow operative, DC West.

The last witness of the day was retired chief superintendent, Simon Whitehead. The court heard that he was the senior officer who had authorised the Covert Activity Policy (CAP). His career had included a spell in PSD as a chief inspector. When asked by Ms Hemingway if he took CAP authorisations seriously he said, ‘Yes’, but then said he had made no notes of the process in his day book, as required and he had received only a verbal briefing from Inspector Rogerson, whom, the court heard, did not produce a single document in support of his request for authority and, similarly, had no written record of the meeting. Mr Whitehead’s understanding of the central issue was that Miss Perkins couldn’t perform operational policing duties but was horseriding as a hobby. Alleged dishonesty was never raised as an issue with him by Rogerson. However, he described the horseriding as ‘significant allegations (sic)’ that could ‘adversely affect the reputation of West Yorkshire Police’. He told the court that he had considered an authority under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) but it was not a criminal investigation, a point clarified by the judge. He also said that he had performed the balancing act over Article 8 rights and proportionate action and the scales came down on the side of intrusive surveillance. This was shortly after he told the court that he would have expected Sergeant Astill to have asked PC Perkins where her stables were. He had not checked that was the case before signing off the CAP authority. Mr Whitehead could not assist with the question of whether CAP was a policy that applied across the wider police service and he wasn’t familiar with the statutory framework. In answer to Ms Whitehead, he told the court that he didn’t recognise the West Yorkshire Police Data Protection policy to which he had been directed in the bundle. He agreed that unlawful processing of data would reflect badly on West Yorkshire Police and harm their reputation.

Tuesday 26th November, 2019

Proceedings under way at 11.20am. The judge allocated a later start than usual to allow counsel from both parties to continue discussions, carried over from yesterday afternoon, aimed at crystallising the status of the data and information still under consideration in this trial. It is worth repeating that this is a ‘liability only’ trial.

On a point of housekeeping, permission was granted by the court for Matthew Stringer, a witness on behalf of the Claimant, Miss Perkins, to rely on his second witness statement, filed at the beginning of November, 2019. His first witness statement was dated 14th December, 2018.

A retired South Yorkshire Police constable, and former Police Federation representative, Mr Stringer is the first witness to give live testimony in this case. Much of his evidence had fallen away as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) is no longer in issue in this claim. With regard to the alleged helicopter surveillance, denied by the police, that had troubled Miss Perkins so much, he advanced the view that ‘there was no smoke without fire’. Reference was made by Mr Stringer to known misuse of police aircraft by his SYP colleagues and the judge clarified that he was alluding to the infamous case of flying over people sunbathing in their back garden. Counsel for the Defendant characterised that part of his evidence as reckless and made without access to the full facts. Mr Stringer, in response said his evidence was given with an honest perspective. He also told the court that he had never come across covert surveillance of a fellow officer in all his years as a Fed rep.

That completed the case for the Claimant. The court having adopted her witness statement as her evidence in chief and there being no cross-examination required by the police.

The Defendant opened its case with evidence from a serving West Yorkshire Police inspector, Mike Astill, who was the first witness for the Defendant. He was a sergeant working in the Castleford neighbourhood policing team at the time Kerry Perkins suffered her back injury in February, 2013. He confirmed that she had an unblemished police career. Under questioning from her counsel, it emerged that Mr Astill was her line manager, and one of the driving forces behind disciplinary measures that were instituted whilst she was still under the care of both her own doctor and the police force’s occupational health unit. He agreed with counsel that reasonable adjustments for Miss Perkins’ injury, such as a lumbar support chair and a riser desk were not made for over a year. Asked about an email he had sent to colleagues that opened with ‘Kerry is a problem child and top of my hit list’, he denied that was a signal of his intention to make life difficult for Miss Perkins and remove her from his team. When questioned about why he chose to deliver a formal disciplinary notice at 9.30pm to Miss Perkins’ home, where she lived alone with two young children, he couldn’t explain why he chose that hour to complete the task. Mr Astill also said that ‘it was not his finest hour’ when he wrote derogatory comments about Miss Perkins in an email sent to Chief Inspector McNeill. It also emerged in cross-examination that the core allegation that led to those disciplinary proceedings was the fact that she could ride a horse, but not commute to the police station near Castleford, from her home in South Elmsall, on a daily basis. A secondary allegation was that she had been seen walking her dog. Mr Astill could not explain why that process commenced when it ran counter to the findings of two doctors, one of whom was employed by the police.

The second police witness was retired detective inspector, John Rogerson. He was the neighbourhood inspector at Castleford at the time the dispute arose with Miss Perkins and, it soon became evident, the other driving force behind the proceedings being taken against her and the covert, but seriously intrusive, surveillance that formed part of those actions. Under careful and forensic questioning from Sarah Hemingway, it emerged that Mr Rogerson, absent of the medical facts and none too careful about how he went about it, became obsessive about proving that there was serious wrongdoing attached to the horse riding hobby of one of his junior officers, given that, although on duty, her injury meant she was unable to commit to a significant daily journey to a station remote from her home. He variously claimed that it could amount to gross misconduct, potentially leading to dismissal from the force, or the criminal offence of misconduct in public office that carries a maximum prison sentence of life imprisonment. Conversely, it emerged that a Professional Standards Department reviewing officer questioned whether, in fact the horseriding was an issue at all, but Mr Rogerson ploughed on regardless. When seeking formal authorisation from a senior officer for covert surveillance he ticked the box marked ‘Major Investigation’, normally reserved for murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, infanticide, terrorist activities, kidnapping. Asked by counsel if he maintained that position in the case of Miss Perkins, her back injury and horse riding, Mr Rogerson confirmed that he did. The surveillance that was authorised at his request is now known, from the evidence, to include checks on the school of Miss Perkins’ children; undercover officers stationed at the rear of her house; contact with neighbours and riding school colleagues; aerial photographs of her home; monitoring of her social media accounts and ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) across three counties without time limit. He maintained all this was necessary to ‘build up a picture of her lifestyle’ and was necessary and proportionate to aid the disciplinary proceedings. Mr Rogerson flatly rejected the question by Ms Hemingway that there were much easier ways to obtain the information he was seeking, almost all of via open source.

The court adjourned at 4.50pm with Mr Rogerson’s evidence part heard.

Monday 25th November, 2019

The trial opened today in Bradford Combined Court Centre to decide a civil claim brought by a retired police officer against her former employers, West Yorkshire Police. It is expected to take up seven court sitting days with judgment scheduled to be handed down on Tuesday 3rd December, 2019.

The Claimant, Kerry Perkins, who lives in the Pontefract area and served 16 years with her local force as a police constable, before retiring on medical grounds, claims that the Defendants seriously breached her data protection and privacy rights. The police are resisting the claim.

Miss Perkins is represented in court by Sarah Hemingway of counsel, instructed by John Hagan of DPP Law. WYP are represented by Olivia Checa-Dover of counsel, instructed by Prue Crossland of the force’s Legal Services Department.

The claim will be heard by HHJ Neil Davey QC, who has returned to judicial duty having retired in June, 2019 from full time service on the bench.

In the first instance, this is a trial of breach only. The Claimant seeks damages from the Defendant for personal injury, but matters of causation and quantum will be dealt with seperately, if the judge finds in favour of Miss Perkins on liability.

The claim arises out of an investigation conducted by the police into the private life of Miss Perkins after it came to light that she had resumed horse riding, despite the fact that she was on restricted duties at work as a result of a back injury.

As part of that investigation, West Yorkshire Police collected information about Miss Perkins from various sources, including DVLA and Motor Insurance Database, from the Police National Computer (PNC), social media and by directly contacting her friends and associates at various riding stables and clubs.

The police also authorised Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) analysis and a Covert Activity Policy (CAP), in order to assess whether she was falsely claiming that she was injured, or unfit for routine policing duties as an operational officer. It was considered by senior officers in the Professional Standards Department that proof of such alleged deceit may amount to discreditable conduct.

In the light of some of the information obtained by the police, misconduct proceedings were initiated and Miss Perkins was eventually issued with a written warning. A minor sanction that decays after 18 months, if there are no other misconduct findings during that period.

Miss Perkins has always maintained that horse riding was not inconsistent with her inability to return to regular duties. This belief was supported by both the Force Medical Advisor and her own doctor.

Miss Perkins disputes the purpose, proportionality and lawfulness, of the methods used by her colleagues to investigate her private life and, thereafter, retain and process her personal data. She initially believed that, as part of the internal investigation, she had been surveilled by police helicopter, and by undercover officers in cars that she had noticed, in suspicious circumstances, near the stables and in other locations close to her home.

The police vehemently deny the use of covert surveillance, admitting only a single episode, on 10th June 2014, and they have produced a number of officer statements to support this position. In light of that, and following the completion of the pre-trial disclosure process, Miss Perkins has withdrawn those elements of her claim, whilst maintaining that she did genuinely believe that such covert activities had taken place and for which she kept detailed event logs with a large number of entries on each.

Eight witnesses, including some very senior serving and retired officers, are due to give live evidence on behalf of the force. The total legal costs of both sides are expected to be in the order of £150,000.

In the course of a brief court day, the court heard submissions from counsel on three preliminary issues:

Permission to amend particulars by the Claimant’s, concerning sensitive personal information pertaining to Miss Perkins, openly accessible on police computer systems, was refused on the ground that the proposed amendment came too late for the police to properly address the issues raised.

Counsel for the police submits that there are concerns over the two witness statements of Matthew Stringer, a former Police Federation representative, who will give evidence on behalf of Miss Perkins: It is now agreed that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act does not apply to this claim and, as such, there are ‘unhelpful, irrelevant, inadmissible paragraphs’ in Mr Stringer’s evidence. HHJ Davey took the view that the statements should remain in the bundle and the matters raised by Miss Checa-Dover could be dealt with by way of cross-examination or in closing submissions.

During discussions prior to the commencement of the hearing, counsel for both parties were able to narrow the factual disputes in the claim. It is now agreed that Facebook data obtained from the social media account of Miss Perkins, during the internal investigation, did not constitute a privacy breach.

Counsel for the police told the court that, as such, Miss Perkins may no longer have to give live evidence in these proceedings.

Page last updated: Tuesday 3rd December, 2019 at 1900 hours

Photo Credits: Kerry Perkins

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Chickens come home to roost

On 3rd February, 2019, during a pre-trial hearing held in Bradford Combined Court Centre, a barrister, Olivia Checa-Dover, made several quite remarkable submissions to the judge, His Honour Neil Davey QC.

One of those was to the effect that West Yorkshire Police had, incredibly, instructed her to say they did not know where to locate one of their former officers.

More experienced, right-minded counsel might have told the instructing solicitor, Alison Walker, Deputy Head of Legal Services at WYP, not to place her in such a compromising position.

At the final hearing of a controversial, high profile civil claim, seven months later, Miss Checa-Dover denied making such a submission. The transcript of those earlier proceedings will tell a different story, as does the contemporaneous reporting of them, that has stood unchallenged by WYP, and their legal team, since its publication (read in full here).

The man in question, Mark Lunn (pictured above), was the lead investigator, and the only officer working full time, on a police operation codenamed Thatcham: The largest fraud investigation in WYP history, and one that ultimately led to the arrests of 91 men, and convictions for 45 of them, over ‘crash for cash’ insurance claims.

He was the arresting officer of a number of those men. One of which was a Bradford doctor, Abdul Rashid, who ran two general practice surgeries and a private medico-legal practice in the city.

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Dr Abdul Rashid, arrested by Mark Lunn in March 2012

On 7th March, 2012, Lunn turned up at the doctor’s home with fifteen other officers at 6.15am. His wife and three children were asleep when the knock was made.

Dr Rashid was not, subsequently, charged with any offence and he had issued a civil claim against WYP on the grounds that his arrest and detention by the police was unlawful. As such, Lunn was at the very centre of those legal proceedings and the police were doing all they could to justify not producing him as a witness.

The reason the police say they ‘couldn’t locate’ Lunn is because he had, by a catalogue of dishonest actions, tainted Operation Thatcham and placed the entire investigation in jeopardy. If this was revealed by way of cross-examination of Mark Lunn, in open court, the public and the press would come to know that the 45 ‘crash for cash’ convictions are, very arguably, unsafe.

Appropriate disclosure of Lunn’s misdemeanours would have also greatly aided Dr Rashid’s claim for unlawful arrest.

It has only very recently been discovered, by a painstaking journalistic investigation (read more here), that by November, 2012, the police knew about the extent, and effect, of Lunn’s wrongdoing and its devastating impact on Thatcham. They chose to conceal that disclosure from the Crown Prosecution Service, and the suspects’ criminal defence lawyers, and thus began a sustained and far reaching WYP ‘cover-up’ that is now well into its seventh year.

The first stage of that audacious cover-up was to conceal Lunn’s wrongdoing from all except a small group of officers who had been involved in the internal misconduct investigations.

The second stage was not to prosecute him for what appears, arguably, to be at least one criminal matter (a second offence of computer misuse and associated data, licence breaches) and to apply no disciplinary sanctions at the end of that process, so that the misconduct investigation would attract no undue attention amongst the rest of the police force (at that time, misconduct findings against officers were published on police notice boards every Monday). A prosecution of Lunn would have also blown the cover-up.

The third stage was to keep Lunn under the WYP cloak, and out of harm’s way, until Operation Thatcham suspects were charged and the prosecutions of the ‘crash for cash’ perpetrators and beneficiaries were in chain. He is regarded as a loose cannon and his record both in the police and, subsequently, bears that out.

The fourth stage was to allow him, in August 2013, to resign from West Yorkshire Police with little, or no, adverse disciplinary record that would be a barrier to future employment. A reasonable hypothesis is that a deal had been cut with Lunn on this basis: Salary paid, and pension preserved, for at least another year; no adverse notes on his Human Resources (HR) file (the court heard during the civil trial that Lunn’s HR file had been ‘weeded’ and that disciplinary records had gone missing).

There is no other reason that WYP could justify overlooking a catalogue of serious misconduct issues, compounded by the fact that there is incontrovertible evidence that he repeatedly lied to two senior officers when confronted by some of them.

Mark Lunn’s lying did not stop when he left West Yorkshire Police. Before he had even left the force his name had already appeared, according to Companies House, on the list of Directors of a firm called Quo Vadis Investigation Services Ltd (QV). His biography on the company website was a fiction and he was forced to resign from QV after less than 3 months service. Lunn’s ‘success’ on Operation Thatcham was, apparently, the leverage for the appointment and the main feature of the bio, which included the claim he had been a detective for 20 years. The truth was he had been a CID officer for less than 5 years before forcibly removed from Thatcham, almost 2 years before the trial at which the men were convicted.

By 2014, Lunn was again attempting again to trade on Thatcham in a private venture. This time the vehicle was to be ‘Pennine Investigations‘. But a company of that name has never been registered and a Google search draws a blank.

In January, 2015 Mark Lunn started work at the Wakefield office of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). But, true to form, that is not what it says on his LinkedIn biography. Enigmatically, he is recorded as working for the Home Office as ‘an investigator’ and is still listed as working there.

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Justice campaigners protest outside Pioneer House, Woolpacks Yard, Wakefield. The IPCC’s regional base in the North East.

This, on any view, was an extraordinary turn of events: An ex-police officer who has a string of misconduct investigations against his name turns up at the policing body charged with maintaining public confidence in the police complaints system. The IPCC purported to do that by oversight of the investigation of complaints made by members of the public against police officers. It is hard to imagine someone less suited to such a role as Mark Lunn.

These are just some of his misdemeanours that have been uncovered so far: He was subject to a large number of misconduct investigations whilst a serving police officer, including what appears to be a major covert operation codenamed Waffleedge; another covert operation codenamed Wademere; seriously compromised WYP’s largest ever fraud investigation; has twice been found to have misused police computers and software (many police officers are sacked after a first offence); tried to obtain £183,000 from a major motor insurance company using a bogus company as an investment vehicle whilst a serving police officer; discussed details of a sensitive police operation with unconnected third parties; is an obsessive and persistent liar; a fantasist who invents competencies and past vocational experience on his CV’s and biographies: and has confessed, in police interview, to having a very bad memory.

Lunn’s complaints record includes allegations of unlawful arrest (four); assault (four); neglect of duty (three); incivility (two); oppressive conduct and harassment of a female; and false imprisonment.

It is also more likely than not he was part of the conspiracy, along with a number of other police and civilian officers, to conceal his wrongdoing from the Operation Thatcham suspects. The driving force for that conspiracy appears to be the present Head of WYP’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team (HMET), Chief Superintendent Nick Wallen. He was a detective inspector in the force’s notorious Professional Standards Department at the time.

It is anticipated that, when the full story eventually emerges, the list of Lunn’s misdemeanours may well be longer. Two former high ranking WYP colleagues describe him as “thick as a brick” and, not uncontroversially, lacking in the necessary integrity and intelligence to have ever been selected as a detective. Their actual words were much more direct and colourful.

Examination of documents authored by Lunn, and some of his emails, appear to bear that out. He is also given to inaccuracies, wild exaggeration and disparaging remarks about members of the public, and in one case a criminal defence solicitor, where and whenever it suited.

So the BIG questions are, how did Mark Lunn wangle a job with the IPCC in the first place, and why did he want to conceal that appointment from his LinkedIn connections, first and foremost, and anyone else amongst the wider public, curious enough to know what the miscreant officer was up to?

A subsidiary question is why did he leave the IPCC (now IOPC) fairly recently with, apparently, no other permanent employment to go to? Lunn is currently self-employed as a jobbing builder and free range egg vendor in rural Huddersfield, where he lives. Connexions Property Maintenance, ‘a family run business owned by Mark Lunn’, trades on the fact that he is a former police officer.

In what appears to be a regular ploy, Lunn sought external funding for Golcar Free Range Eggs. He raised £50 out of a crowdfunding target of £3,000. Rather less than the £183,000 he was sought from 1st Central Motor Insurance to fund his private investigation business in 2012.

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A further question is why did the police tell a circuit judge that they couldn’t locate him when he was working at the IPCC, amongst other former police officers, less than 300 yards from WYP headquarters in Wakefield?

Press enquiries have been made of the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the successor organisation to the IPCC. Contact has also been made with Derrick Campbell, the IPCC Commissioner who controlled the Wakefield office at the material time.

The Home Office and West Yorkshire Police have also been approached for comment. The latter has been asked why a circuit judge was also told by Miss Checa-Dover that Mark Lunn was not the man leading the Operation Thatcham, before he was forcibly removed. Evidence heard, and documents exhibited at the final hearing of the civil claim last month plainly showed that he was (read more here).

The Police Federation press office has also been contacted. The present Chairman of their West Yorkshire branch, Brian Booth, is a friend of Mark Lunn. Mr Booth has been contacted previously but has not replied.

Enquiries have also been made of West Yorkshire Trading Standards regarding Connexions Property Maintenance. The Trading Standards mission is to aim to ensure that the people of West Yorkshire are well informed and empowered consumers who have the confidence to interact with businesses safely and securely. Mark Lunn’s history of misrepresentation and his naked attempt to solicit business by purporting to be an honest, ethical, professional police office is concerning to say the least.

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A series of questions has been put to Mark Lunn. He has also been offered right of reply.

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Page last updated at 1620hrs on Thursday 3rd October, 2019

Corrections: Please let me know if there is a mistake in this article. I will endeavour to correct it as soon as possible.

Right of reply: If you are mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let me have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory it will be added to the article.

Photo credit: Telegraph & Argus

© Neil Wilby 2015-2019. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Smoking Gun

Earlier this week, an exclusive article revealed to an unsuspecting public the known misdemeanours of a ‘bad apple’ West Yorkshire Police detective (read in full here).

It is an important story because the reckless and, at times, dishonest actions of former Huddersfield based detective constable, Mark Lunn, may have placed the convictions of 45 men at risk.

Lengthy and forensic, the piece was almost entirely grounded in police emails and reports, together with notes from nine days of court reporting from the hearing of a high profile, high value civil claim in Bradford (read more here).

But, within the most explosive and damning piece of evidence, it has emerged that Lunn is only a bit part player: On 28th November, 2012, at the conclusion of an internal inquiry into his wrongdoing, Detective Inspector Nick Wallen, as he was then, wrote to a number of WYP colleagues in these terms:

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Chief Superintendent Nick Wallen (centre) receiving an award recently at the Police Superintendents’ Association

“Subject: DC 3602 Mark Lunn

“Ladies/Gents. Our investigation. is now concluded, there is no need for me to re-iterate what is in this report.

“My own view is that Kirklees SMT and PSD were right to remove DC Lunn from the investigation [Operation Thatcham] and to investigate respectively (sic). There is no doubt that had this issue been raised, in the first instance, at Crown Court, that the case would have been seriously compromised and may have lead (sic) to the prosecution being withdrawn.

“Mark will have undoubtedly learnt lessons from this, and his removal from CID duties to his current post [Huddersfield South Neighbourhood Police Team] may be the most suitable sanction for him.

“So, I thank everyone for their efforts regarding this matter, PSD will contact DCI Jeffrey regarding any other sanction for Mark that might be considered appropriate.

“Regards, Nick W”

The internal inquiry was one of a number of investigations carried out into Lunn’s misconduct. Another followed a complaint raised by Opus Law, a leading firm of Bradford solicitors, on 14thMay, 2012. Opus were not made aware of the internal investigation, or its outcome. It is understood, from a lawyer formerly employed by Opus, that their complaint was not concluded before Lunn left the force in August, 2013.

The most senior of the recipients of the Wallen email, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Jeffrey (as he was then), retired in July 2017 at the rank of superintendent and was central to the previous article about Lunn.

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Paul Jeffrey – who retired from West Yorkshire Police in 2017

Jeffrey hails from a family of police officers (read more here) and had first been made aware of the concerns over Lunn’s conduct, and the Opus Law letter, at a meeting on 8thJune, 2012. He instructed the local Professional Standards Department officers to carry out a scoping exercise. He was not aware that a covert police operation, codenamed Waffleedge, was already investigating Mark Lunn.

Nick Wallen is now a chief superintendent and Head of WYP’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team: A remarkable rise for an officer whose career is littered with controversial investigations and faux pas. Not least the murder of Leeds schoolteacher, Ann Maguire, about which her widowed husband, Don, has repeatedly and justifiably complained and the ‘Bradford 4’ acid attack murder in which clear, and unchallenged, findings of evidence tampering forms part of the miscarriage of justice case of Andrew Feather Jnr, who was found on that evidence to be the secondary getaway driver. Mr Feather’s case presently rests with the Criminal Case Review Commission. He and his family has received widespread and positive publicity from a large number of regional and national newspaper articles, plus broadcast packages from the BBC and Sky.

The author of this piece has spent many hundreds of hours, collectively, on both cases. In the Maguire case there is a bizarre restriction on access to documents that were used in the inquest touching on Ann’s death, that Don has scrupulously observed, much to the frustration of both of us. Those include such as the investigation policy book (or log).

In the Feather case, unrestricted access was given to all the materials disclosed to the family, and the fruits of the remarkable post-conviction sleuthing of Andrew Feather Senior, which drew warm praise from no less than the bench at the Court of Appeal.

To be clear, there is no direct evidence that links Nick Wallen to any wrongdoing, but he was the senior investigating officer (SIO) in both cases and, as such should have signed off every action and decision in the policy book. If, indeed, actions that led to grotesque incompetence, or wrongdoing, were ever recorded there, about which there has to be considerable doubt, given the force’s very long and troubled history where policy logs and similar procedural or evidential requirements are concerned.

It can, however, safely be said that, in both cases, the timings relating to the murders, and the movements of those at or near the scene, now meticulously plotted and at variance to the police version, give rise to suspicion about the integrity of the rest of the investigation. Only a robust, thorough, independent enquiry, by another police force or policing body, can begin to allay those doubts.

The internal investigation into Mark Lunn, and the Wallen email at its conclusion, is concerning, to say the least. Taken at its face, it appears that a conscious decision was made not to disclose material, either to the Crown Prosecution Service or the criminal defence teams of the defendants, in a trial in which Lunn was centrally involved. As he was ‘officer in the case’ in only two investigations, Operation Thatcham and the one that preceded it, the field is very narrow.

The Criminal Procedures and Investigation Act, 1996 is explicit about what should be disclosed in criminal trials and failure to meet those statutory obligations could amount to an offence of perverting the course of justice. Or a conspiracy of the same, as this decision to deliberately conceal disclosure appears to involve at least five officers, including Paul Jeffrey.

West Yorkshire Police has said, in writing, that it is not investigating the matters exposed in the first Lunn article and, in those circumstances, a copy of the Wallen email was sent to Gerry Wareham, Chief Prosecutor for the Yorkshire and Humber Region, with a request that the matter be further examined by him and then referred to an appropriate policing body for a more complete investigation.

Mr Wareham, who features elsewhere on this website in a seriously troubling case (read more here), responded promptly and to the effect that he had no locus to investigate any offences that may be disclosed within the Wallen email. He has written to West Yorkshire Police, effectively passing the buck back to them, knowing they have no intention of progressing a matter that would cause the force huge reputational damage.

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CPS lawyer Gerry Wareham pictured outside Bradford Combined Court Centre

Mr Wareham expressed no alarm, or even mild concern over what had been disclosed to him which, put shortly, was that the police had duped the CPS in high profile trials, leading to the conviction of 45 men, that now appear, on their face, to be unsafe.

He also appears to be unaware of the Attorney General’s robust, zero-tolerance stance on this very issue (read more here).

As expected, following the publication of the first Lunn article other material has emerged: A former Kent, Essex and Metropolitan Police officer, Darren Jones, says that the account of their interaction, given by Lunn in police interview, is false. They did meet in London on one occasion, but ‘Operation Thatcham was never discussed’ says Jones.

It has also been revealed that, in 2014, Lunn renewed contact with Mr Jones.  He told him that he was still looking to start up his own fraud investigation company. This time the trading style was set to be Pennine Investigations. There is no such company registered at Companies House.

Materials relating to the now defunct Quo Vadis Investigation Services Ltd (QV) have also been disclosed. They show that Mark Lunn was listed as ‘Operations Director’ and made several outlandish claims in his biography on the company website. Not least that he had ‘over 20 years of experience as a CID officer with West Yorkshire Police’. In truth, he only served as a police officer for 19 years, and less than 5 of those were as a detective.

Companies House records show that Lunn became registered was a Director of QV on 31st July, 2013. He didn’t leave West Yorkshire Police until the following month. By October of that same year he had resigned, following a letter sent to QV, by Opus Law, pointing out why he had been removed from Operation Thatcham and the falsehoods on his biography.

A fraud investigator who made fraudulent claims about his own credentials was more than the other directors could countenance.

A consultant to QV, Peter Taylor joined and left on the same days as Mark Lunn, so there appears to have been a link between the two and Lunn was, very likely, leveraging the ‘success’ of Operation Thatcham to make these connections and secure positions that appeared well above his station. Taylor, rather immodestly, describes himself as ‘a highly regarded Counter Fraud professional with over 25 years experience’. He currently runs a company called Peter Taylor Consultants Ltd. Mr Taylor has been invited to prove further insight into his apparent association with the disgraced Mark Lunn.

In 2015, according to Lunn’s LinkedIn page, he joined the Home Office as an investigator. At the civil trial in Bradford the court heard that the belief of the claimant’s legal team was that he was working for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) at their Wakefield office. On that same CV, Lunn lists ‘well versed in police misconduct procedures’ as one of his self-stated competencies. That appears to support that hypothesis.

There is an unexplained gap 16 month gap in his LinkedIn CV, from when Lunn left WYP until he joined the Home Office. There is no mention of the ill-starred association with QV Fraud Investigation Services or Pennine Investigations. He is still listed as working at the Home Office up to the present time, but also now runs a jobbing builder business and sells free range eggs in the village where he lives. A man of many parts.

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The press office of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) was approached on 20th September, 2019 to confirm, or otherwise, whether Mark Lunn had worked for their predecessor organisation, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and, if so, how would public concerns over such an appointment be addressed. No response has been received from the ‘police watchdog’. Adverse inference can, of course, be drawn from that silence from an organisation that lists openness and transparency as two of its core values.

John James, a Leeds solicitor, has not responded to the email sent to him seeking an account of his interaction with Lunn. It was claimed, in police interview, by Lunn, that James was a ‘prospective co-director’ of a bogus company ‘Insurance Fraud Consultants Ltd’. It was also claimed in that interview that the two had met during police investigations upon which Lunn was engaged.

The Chairman of the perpetually noisy West Yorkshire Police Federation, Brian Booth, also failed to respond to the enquiries made of him and his association with Mark Lunn.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) promised answers to these questions put to them concerning their involvement in Operation Thatcham: 1. A short statement from Insurance Fraud Bureau, covering the police decision to, effectively, conceal the serious misdemeanours of the lead investigator in Operation Thatcham from the CPS, and the defendants’ legal teams, would be helpful. 2. It would also assist, also, to know if WYP received any funding from IFB for Operation Thatcham.

After an inexplicable delay, they provided this statement which ducked both issues: ‘IFB’s role is to provide evidence of insurance fraud to UK police forces and to assist forces with their investigations into this criminal activity. In these circumstances, the relevant police force takes the lead with IFB providing information in an administrative role’.

A series of questions was put to the press office of 1st Century Motor Insurance in connection with the business plans for ‘Insurance Fraud Consultants Ltd’ that Lunn had compiled on police computers. After a series of meetings with two of their Directors at their Sussex HQ, he was asking the insurance company to make an investment of £183,000 in the bogus company. Police documents appear to show that at least some of that money was paid to Lunn. Clarification over the questions put to 1st Century was sought by their press officer and, following receipt, answers to at least some of the questions are promised in the near future.

In response to a freedom of information request that asked if West Yorkshire Police had undertaken a risk assessment, or a process whereby the they would have confirmed the authenticity and legal standing of the IFB, WYP said: ‘We hold no information. The Insurance Fraud Bureau has been contacted for basic information about the car insurance industry. They are not funding any aspect of the enquiry, it was a police-initiated operation. No risk assessment has been undertaken’. 

Of greater concern is that the police gave what appear to be false answers to other questions in that same request. Firstly, about the transfer of officers from other duties to run Operation Thatcham: They say there were none, Mark Lunn was certainly one as he was transferred from Huddersfield CID to the Proceeds of Crime Team at Batley Police Station to run Thatcham. Secondly, when asked whether any complaints had been received as a result of this investigation, they said there were none. In reality, there appears to be, from documentary evidence, at least three against Lunn, one of which it is known was from Opus Law.

The West Yorkshire Police press office has not repsonded to questions put to them about Mark Lunn and Operation Thatcham. Or provided a statement, as requested.

Nevertheless, and in spite of the obfuscation and false trail left by the police and the stonewalling by their perenially disgraced ‘watchdog’ and the ultra-defensive CPS, enquiries from this quarter are continuing, The next ports of call are the Police Superintendents’ Association, the Home Office, the Attorney General and the Justice Parliamentary Select Committee to test whether any amongst them has the resolve to tackle this disgraceful situation.

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Page last updated at 1130hrs on Saturday 28th September, 2019

Corrections: Please let me know if there is a mistake in this article. I will endeavour to correct it as soon as possible.

Right of reply: If you are mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let me have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory it will be added to the article.

Photo credit: Telegraph & Argus

© Neil Wilby 2015-2019. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did ‘bad apple’ taint the Thatcham barrel?

In March 2008, an investigation began into two Huddersfield brothers. Concerns about their extravagant lifestyle, following an anonymous tip-off, appeared to be the trigger for the police probe.

At the subsequent trial in Bradford Crown Court in March, 2011, it emerged in evidence that Nadeem and Thazeem Khalid had exaggerated their earnings to obtain £968,000 from three financial institutions; Lombard, Birmingham Midshires and Kensington Finance.

They had used loans, fraudulently obtained, to buy a £75,000 Ferrari car, and two houses in Salendine Nook; a £650,000 detached house and another, valued at £160,000, that was subsequently used as a rental property.

After the trial, the detective constable based with the Kirklees CID response team, Mark Lunn, told a local newspaper:

“They were living a fast and loose lifestyle well beyond their means.

“Throughout our investigation they both showed an air of arrogance and were always of the opinion the case would never be proved. They were wrong.”

DC Lunn added: “They may believe they are untouchable and they may be enjoying a lavish lifestyle when the honest, hard working members of the public are struggling in times of austerity. But they can rest assured the police will catch up with them”.

At the time of their arrest, and conviction, the brothers were said to be running a company called Advanced Claims UK Ltd although their names have never appeared amonst the directors listed at Companies House. In both the evidence used for the fraud trial, and in the unused materials (for the legally minded, the MG6(c)), there were documents relating to the running of that company that aroused suspicion of bogus motor insurance claims.

Mark Lunn, who lives in the Golcar area of Huddersfield, joined West Yorkshire Police as a special constable in 1988. He served in that role for 6 years. He became a warranted officer in 1994 and remained, in relative obscurity, at the rank of police constable until around 2007 when he passed his basic exams and became a detective constable with the CID Response team in Huddersfield. He was a ‘rookie’ when he was given the task of investigating the Khalid brothers. It is said by the police that he was the ‘officer in the case’ for that investigation.

Following the conviction of the Khalid brothers, Lunn was ‘recommended’ to join the specialist Kirklees Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) Unit at their base in Batley Police Station. The sergeant leading the team, Mark Taylor (now an inspector in Bradford CID), says ‘it was a close knit unit’. Unusually for a detective constable, Lunn was allocated an office of his own. He was also tasked with leading an investigation, codenamed Operation Thatcham, to look further into the activities of not only the Khalid brothers but, more particularly, one of their associates, Sahir Mohammed.

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Batley Police Station

But Lunn was harbouring a dark secret of his own, and the fine words he gave to the Huddersfield Examiner would come back to haunt both him and West Yorkshire Police.

Revelling in his new found ‘celebrity’, he was, soon afterwards, planning a very large loan (or investment) of his own whose provenance was questionable. The leverage for that payment was the success of the Khalid investigation and his position as lead investigator on Operation Thatcham, a joint operation that included the private, not-for-profit Insurance Fraud Bureau (read more here) and the Ministry of Justice as partners.

At around the same time, the IFB had been involved in a controversial prosecution at Southwark Crown Court of doctors and solicitors. It concluded in December, 2011, after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dropped all charges, with the judge, HHJ David Higgins, describing the conduct of the case as “scandalous”.

That police investigation, codenamed Operation Triassic, had been funded and driven by the insurance industry and Ian Lewis, at the time the fraud partner at Manchester law firm Lewis Hymanson Small, representing BCR Legal Group, a London-based insurance intermediary, said: “Despite repeated requests to be provided with details of the complaints, the CPS and the police failed to do so, raising speculation that this was an investigation led by the insurance industry with a suspicion of an agenda to continue the civil cost wars in the criminal courts”.

IFB, for their part, maintain that they “….provided good evidence to the City of London Police to investigate the matter further and bring charges against the professionals concerned”. An article published by Legal Futures, covering the case, can be read here.

Questions concerning IFB’s role and whether they contributed funding to Operation Thatcham have been put to both them and West Yorkshire Police.

Police documents show that Mark Lunn added to his publicly available LinkedIn profile, sometime in 2011 he says, the fact that he was a director of private investigation business using a bogus company, ‘Insurance Fraud Consultants Ltd’, as its trading style. It was not registered at Companies House at that time. He was, it seems, looking to ride the tidal wave of money being thrown at tackling insurance fraud by the big players in that industry. ‘Crash for cash’ motor insurance frauds were one of the biggest concerns for underwriters and brokers.

He subsequently approached two senior managers of a large, well established insurance company based in Haywards Heath, Sussex. They were Glenn Marr (Fraud Director) and Clare Burrell (Claims Director) who both worked for 1st Central Insurance. They are part of the much larger, Guernsey based, First Central Insurance and Technology Group.

Lunn says he had been introduced to 1st Central by an, as yet, unidentified contact made through the ‘crash for cash’ investigations. He made three visits to the insurer’s head office, whilst not on West Yorkshire Police business, during the time he spent running Operation Thatcham.

A business plan for the bogus company was produced by Lunn, on police computers, although he told Detective Chief Inspector Paul Jeffrey, in interview, that he had worked on it ‘only in lunch breaks’. He also admitted sending out emails connected to ‘Insurance Fraud Consultants Ltd’ using his police email account.

The plan was for 1st Central to pay him £183,000, based on that spreadsheet. Apparently, whilst Lunn was leading one of the highest profile fraud investigations in West Yorkshire Police history. A series of questions has been put to the press office of First Central Group concerning the provenance of this arrangement, given they must have known that Mark Lunn was a serving police officer and it directly conflicted with his leader role on Operation Thatcham.

Lunn had already sourced an office and agreed a rental with a well-known local businessman, Ian Pogson, who passed away suddenly in July, 2014. The premises were situated at Brougham Road, Marsden a short drive from the police officer’s home. Police documents reveal that 1st Central rejected that location as they wanted Lunn’s business premises to be situated in Leeds, the recognised regional economic centre.

Mr Pogson is named, by the police, as someone who could give advice on the drawing up of Lunn’s business plan. The link to Mr Pogson was via a former Metropolitan Police detective, Darren Jones.

Lunn says he met Mr Jones through enquiries as part of the Thatcham investigation. The latter is the principal shareholder in Fraud Consultants UK Ltd (read more here). Mr Jones was asked to verify if Mark Lunn’s account of his intermediary role is true. He states that it isn’t: Mr Jones was not a serving officer at the time and he says that Lunn approached him for advice, out of the blue, as someone who had started his own fraud investigation business. He knew Ian Pogson, as he was a client for whom he was doing professional work. Beyond that, he says he has little or no recollection of Lunn. Operation Thatcham was never discussed between them.

 

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Andel Ltd was the business controlled by the late Ian Pogson

According to DCI Jeffrey, based on the account Lunn gave to him, a Leeds solicitor, John James, was also involved in the plans involving the bogus company, ‘Insurance Fraud Consultants Ltd’. He is a personal injury specialist presently working for a firm called Legal Studio (read more here). He was described by Lunn ‘as a prospective co-director’.

At the time of the alleged association with Lunn he was working for one of the largest law firms in Leeds, Ford and Warren. His CV on the LinkedIn website describes his role there as ‘Specialising in Insurance Fraud litigation, investigating and defending fraudulent motor claims on behalf of insurer clients’. Both Mr Walker, and Weightmans Solicitors, who took over the business of Ford and Warren, have been invited to give an account of any interaction with this ‘company’, a serving police officer and what appears to be a very large sum of money.

This private enterprise, apparently involving variously, and not necessarily limited to, a serving West Yorkshire Police officer, a former Metropolitan Police officer, a solicitor, and one of Huddersfield’s most successful businessmen, was, plainly, a very serious undertaking. The fact it was being organised from Batley Police Station, using police resources (office space, computers, phones at the very least), a police email address, software licenced to the police, and relying almost entirely on a number of professional connections made whilst on one of West Yorkshire Police’s largest ever fraud operations, is concerning.

On Lunn’s own account, he had been working on the satellite project for up to a year.

A series of questions has been put to West Yorkshire Police press office in order to shed more light on how this could have possibly happened and why Detective Constable Mark Lunn was not dismissed from the force. There is also the latent question of whether any of his conduct met the criminal threshold, particularly the deception over the bogus company.

The police’s position, regarding the sanctions Lunn faced over a lengthy list of serious demeanours, is that he was placed on an Unsatisfactory Performance Plan (UPP). A three-stage process that is more aligned to Human Resources than Professional Standards. Routinely used to tackle issues such as lateness or poor attendance record.

The UPP proposition, advanced by West Yorkshire Police, intended to divert attention from the investigation that it is known did take place into Mark Lunn, is, quite simply, preposterous. Those making it, and those maintaining it, should, themselves, face disciplinary or regulatory investigation.

There are also the residual and more serious issues of (i) what happened to the money that the police say was paid to Lunn and (ii) was it legitimately obtained? Public confidence in the police will suffer a serious detriment if answers are not provided to these questions.

On 14th May, 2012 a Bradford firm of criminal defence solicitors, Opus Law, wrote to the Professional Standards Department of West Yorkshire Police and drew the force’s attention to at least some of Lunn’s nefarious activities. Opus, a ‘Legal 500 Leading Firm’, represented one of the persons arrested, two months earlier, as part of Operation Thatcham: Dr Abdul Rashid, a Bradford GP and medico-legal expert.

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It appears as though PSD was either slow to act, as the third of Mark Lunn’s three visits to 1st Insurance took place eight days later, on 22nd May, 2012, or, by then, they had him under covert surveillance. He had taken that day off as unplanned leave, telling his supervisor, Detective Sergeant Taylor that he had ‘child care difficulties’.  He later told DCI Jeffrey he couldn’t remember saying that and, according to DCI Jeffrey’s notes, Lunn ‘made great play of how bad his memory was these days’.

On Monday 4th June, 2012, Mark Lunn started a planned two week period of leave. At a County Court hearing that concluded recently in Bradford Combined Court Centre, DI Mark Taylor (as he is now) gave evidence about how he came to know of Lunn’s burgeoning private enterprise. It can be paraphrased in this way: ‘On or about the first day of Lunn’s leave, DC Andrew Barrett came to his office and blew the whistle on Lunn, whom had been heard in telephone conversations obviously not to do with his police work’.

In police documents it emerges that, on DI Taylor’s account, DC Barrett was not the only team member to have heard, or seen, Lunn conducting such activities. Others were aware that he had compiled a business plan and had travelled ‘down south’ to make a ‘pitch’ for investment in his business. There was a huge concern as to how this would impact on the integrity of Operation Thatcham’.

DI Taylor’s further evidence in court was that he telephoned DI Andrew Leonard on that day, which he said was ‘at the end of May or beginning of June’ to share the knowledge of DC Barrett’s whistle blowing. There is no contemporaneous document available to support this account by DI Taylor. No emails, entry in pocket note books (PNB’s), or day books, and nothing on the investigation policy log relating to this. A ‘big red flag’ to borrow a phrase the police’s barrister, Olivia Checa-Dover, is fond of using, was not raised anywhere, it seems. Just an internal phone call, of which there is no audit trail.

A remarkable feature of those proceedings was the extent to which DI Taylor’s recollection of events varied from question to question, put to him in his examination-in-chief and, later, his cross-examination.

Another feature was that a significant number of other documents that would have supported DI Taylor’s oral evidence had either gone missing, been inexplicably destroyed or not searched for.

A third feature was how little DI Taylor appeared to know about the day to day running of the Thatcham investigation. For example, on a policy log with a very large number of entries he could not point to a single entry he had made. Almost every single one was made by DC Lunn. He told the court he was involved in thirteen other investigations or prosecutions at the time.

A fourth feature, very obviously of course, was the massive private enterprise, with a dangerous conflict of interest, being organised by the officer leading the investigation, right under DI Taylor’s nose. For up to a year, Lunn must have regarded his supervisor, working in an adjacent office, with scarcely concealed contempt.

Without the letter from Opus Law, it is possible that Lunn would have got away with his plans and scammed both West Yorkshire Police and, possibly, 1st Central Insurance, who were being asked to invest very heavily in a bogus company whilst the principal was a serving police officer.

On 7thJune, 2012, DI Taylor was copied into an email sent by D/Sgt Lockwood. Attached to the email was the letter from Opus Law.

When asked in cross-examination, at the County Court trial, if he had ever seen the Opus letter, before being shown the email in the trial bundle, he answered firmly in the negative.

He didn’t repeat the regular mantra of ‘I don’t recall’ or ‘I can’t remember’. He said: ‘No’

When shown the Lockwood email, he conceded that he must have opened it and seen the letter. The judge, Ben Nolan QC, sitting in this case as a Recorder, characterised this type of evidence as being tendered by a ‘truthful, reliable and extremely professional officer’. The judgment also gratuitously praises DI Taylor’s ‘very good recollection of his role as supervisor of DC Lunn’.

There is, very evidently, a tension between the daily reports of the hearings posted from the press seats and those judicial findings (read here). Not to mention the dangerous enterprise Lunn was perpetrating right under DI Taylor’s nose.

It now transpires, after further investigation, that the Opus letter featured in a meeting with DCI Jeffrey that took place on the day following receipt of the Lockwood email. DI Taylor had actually taken the letter to the meeting for the purpose of bringing it to the attention of ‘the boss’. The letter was not an item on the agenda, this was a routine operational review meeting of POCA team activity, and it seems, from DCI Jeffrey’s own account that this occasion was the first he knew of the Lunn complaint. It was only raised by DI Taylor when the review turned to Operation Thatcham, not as a matter of very considerable importance at the outset. Yet DI Taylor’s best evidence to the court was that he had never seen the Opus letter before being shown it in the witness box.

In DCI Jeffrey’s detailed notes of that meeting there is no mention of the Taylor phone call to DI Leonard. Or, indeed, any contact between Leonard and Jeffrey. It appears that, on all the available evidence, it was the first DCI Jeffrey, the Head of Crime in Kirklees, had heard of the complaints made against Lunn by Opus Law. 25 days after their letter had been sent to West Yorkshire Police.

The apparent delay by the POCA team, and the seeming lack of urgency in managing the complaint up the command chain, over what were, on any independent view, serious allegations, is troubling. Particularly, in the light of knowledge held, by both PSD and those senior officers, over a ‘written warning’ sanction Lunn had received, previously, at the end of a misconduct investigation into misuse of police computers. Given what was alleged, and the fact that the latest complaint came from a leading firm of solicitors well acquainted with policing matters, with documentary evidence supporting it, gives rise to suspicion that other dynamics were in play.

Frequently, police officers are dismissed from the service for computer and data misuse. It is, quite rightly, viewed very seriously and, as such, a curiosity as to why Lunn escaped with such a relatively minor sanction over his previous breach. Nevertheless, in the light of that disciplinary finding, the decision to allocate Detective Constable Lunn an office of his own in Batley Police Station, away from the gaze of the rest of his colleagues, appears highly questionable and smacks of poor supervision and decision making.

There was also one other live PSD complaint running at the time, from a member of the public, over the failure of Lunn to return seized property. The outcome of that complaint is not known. In his written response to PSD, Lunn had declared that he was ‘Team Thatcham‘ and that status, apparently, gave him immunity from any criticism, either internally or from members of the public.

In the same County Court proceedings, featuring the unlawful arrest of Dr Rashid, the court heard at the pre-trial review that there had been three previous complaints made against Lunn, by members of the public, alleging unlawful arrest. None were upheld by PSD. Under force policy at that time, West Yorkshire Police should, however, have placed a ‘red flag’ against Lunn’s name for having three complaints of the same classification made against him, irrespective of whether they were upheld or not.

Dr Rashid’s unlawful arrest claim was also dismissed, after a ten day court hearing, but is presently subject to an appeal to the High Court. He was never charged with any offence, but kept on police bail until June, 2013.

DC Mark Lunn, the officer in charge of the Thatcham investigation was, on the documentary evidence provided by the police to the court, clearly a detective who was prepared to persistently lie; misuse police assets; misrepresent himself using a police email account to further a private enterprise; repeatedly deceive fellow police officers working in the same team; engage in conduct that placed a huge fraud investigation at risk; gratuitously embellish his CV (which he still does to this day); repeatedly breach Police Conduct Regulations and place self-interest well above public service. Added to all that ‘he made great play of how bad his memory was’.

Unsurprisingly, that is not the view Mark Lunn projects about himself.

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Incredibly, this was the officer who planned and executed the arrest of Dr Rashid and wrote the operational order that included a massive, pre-dawn police raid at a residential property in an upmarket suburb of Bradford, the home of a well known professional man deeply embedded in the local community, and in which children as young as seven years old were asleep.

The findings of the judge, at the conclusion of the Rashid trial, seek to strongly downplay the impact of Lunn on the lawfulness of the doctor’s arrest and his role in it. Not only in the face of what was known in court about an officer whose very presence, let alone his position as its leader, appears to taint the entire investigation, or at the very least, up to the point he was removed from it, but the fact that almost all the documents, upon which Lunn might reasonably have noted the reasons he relied upon for the arrest, appear to have been ‘sanitised’. This formed part of the closing submissions of Dr Rashid’s barrister at the end of the trial. A point seemingly not addressed in the judgment.

The officer in charge of disclosure, on behalf of the police legal team, was DI Taylor. Warmly praised by the judge as ‘extremely professional’. From the press seats, at least, across three hearings, beginning in December, 2018 and ending in September, 2019 the drip-feed disclosure process had the appearance of an exercise whose principal aim was not to reveal anything that would undermine the principal plank of the police case.

The police’s various and changing explanations for the absence of key documents, including some of those provided by DI Taylor on oath, pose some difficulty when reconciling what is known as Authorised Professional Practice (formerly issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers, more latterly by the College of Policing), and the internal management of police information (MoPI) policies of a well-run police force. Not to mention their lawful obligations, Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and duty of care.

One reasonable hypothesis, given what is now known about his general character and integrity, is that DC Lunn had exaggerated the reasons for the arrest in the contemporaneous documents pertaining to the arrest, for the purpose of enhancing his ‘pitch’ for investment in his private business by 1st Century – and giving the motor claims industry a ‘prized scalp’, as Dr Rashid was described in pre-trial court proceedings.

Significant support for this line of reasoning is that within hours of Dr Rashid’s arrest, Lunn had written to the General Medical Council to tell them that the doctor had been arrested over ‘serious fraud, money laundering and was part of an organised crime gang’. The words ‘on suspicion of’ or ‘alleged’ were notably absent. Lunn had also told the GMC that Dr Rashid was using drugs, but did not specify their nature, or application.

Lunn went on to say that patient records were found scattered in his home and the boot of his car. That was a baseless allegation, unsupported by evidence, photographic or otherwise. The ‘money laundering’ was an invention, as was the allegation that there was a misuse of drugs. None of these matters were ever put to Dr Rashid in interview.

Apart from this grotesque, and arguably libellous, smearing of Dr Rashid, it was a serious breach of West Yorkshire Police’s policy for disclosure to regulated professions. A task, for very obvious reasons, almost always undertaken by a specialist, qualified officer in the Force Disclosure Unit.

The General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practice Panel rejected West Yorkshire Police’s submissions and cleared Dr Rashid of any wrongdoing.

On 18th June, 2012, on the first day back on duty after his holiday leave, Lunn was summoned to Divisional HQ in Huddersfield for a meeting with DCI Jeffrey and DI Leonard, who was Mark Taylor’s line manager at that time.

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DCI Paul Jeffrey pictured after the conclusion of the Opertion Thatcham trials

Perversely, given what was alleged, and Lunn’s past history of police computer misuse, this was arranged as an informal meeting. The public might reasonably have expected that, given the suspicion of at least one criminal offence, Lunn would have been arrested and interviewed under caution.

A countervailing argument might be that admissions could be coaxed from Lunn by informal questioning, rather than when represented by his lawyer and a Police Federation representative at a formal interview under caution, where he might be advised to give a ‘no comment’ interview and provide a statement prepared by the Fed’s own lawyers at its conclusion.

Dr Rashid, for one, might well point out that he was never given such opportunity. Instead, sixteen police officers turned up at his home at 6.15am banging on the door.

It is clear from Paul Jeffrey’s detailed account of the meeting that an internal investigation had been launched against Lunn on 8th June, and a significant amount of information and material seized prior to the interview on the 18th. It is now apparent that the investigation was codenamed Operation Wademere.

At the outset of that meeting with two of his superiors, Lunn was dismissive of the complaint against him and maintained that the Opus Law letter was ‘a bit of a joke’. The bogus company was ‘only an idea’ he said. He was unaware that an investigation into the complaint by PSD, or, more likely, the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) that falls under the PSD umbrella, had started ten days ago, at DCI Jeffrey’s instigation.

Lunn’s approach to the interview was described by fellow police officers as ‘closed’ and ‘evasive’. He was prepared to lie to two senior officers in an attempt to bluff his way out of the Opus complaint. He only made admissions, they said, when he belatedly realised that his superiors already had the answers to the questions they were putting to him.

Eventually, and reluctantly, it was admitted by Lunn that he had misused police computers again; he was running the private investigation business from his home, rather than the office he had agreed to pay £50 per month to rent; he was using contacts gained specifically through the Operation Thatcham investigation to set up his business; he had breached force policy in not disclosing his business interests; most crucially, there was a clear conflict of interest with his duties as the Officer in the Case and the acknowledged lead investigator in Operation Thatcham.

To the extent he had, potentially, placed the entire investigation in jeopardy. Not least, it seems, by procuring the services of a chartered physiotherapist, Lee Robinson, as a director of the bogus company. Robinson was already a retained expert witness on Operation Thatcham.

That conflict, the police admit, would have led to the collapse of the Thatcham trials if the information was disclosed to the Crown Prosecution Service. The decision was made by a group of officers to deliberately conceal that crucial information from the CPS and the legal teams of those on trial.

Lunn denied any other police officers were involved in the plans.

He was removed from Operation Thatcham on the same day, but neither suspended nor placed on restricted duties (normally a non-public facing role and not adjacent to any evidence chains). Instead, Lunn was posted to the Huddersfield South neighbourhood team. Policing the area both where he lived and planned to set up his private investigation office, with the locals unaware that, in their midst, was a ‘bad apple’ police officer. One with a history of complaints of unlawful arrests (at the time, four), one who had twice misused police computers, and one who had repeatedly lied to, and deliberately deceived, other police officers. With a bad memory, to boot.

DCI Jeffrey also noted after the meeting with Lunn on 18th June, 2012 that there was a clear risk of ‘reputational damage’ to West Yorkshire Police if details of Lunn’s activities emerged into the public domain. The risk to the public of rural Huddersfield appeared not to have even been considered, let alone assessed, by DCI Jeffrey or the Professional Standards officers. That, despite the conclusion being drawn by Paul Jeffrey: ‘There are misconduct issues apparent in the information gathering exercise conducted today and I have no doubt that there is significantly more information [about Lunn] that will come out over time’.

Some of that information may have concerned a registration that was made at Companies House, in the name of ‘Insurance Fraud Consultants Ltd’., very shortly after Mark Lunn was removed from Operation Thatcham. It is unclear whether Lunn has any connection with any of the officers named as having control of the company. West Yorkshire Police have been asked to clarify.

Following the report of the Jeffrey/Leonard/Lunn meeting, in correspondence circulated to seven officers, up to the rank of superintendent, and who were, in one form or another, stakeholders in the investigation into Lunn’s activities, it was clear that there were serious concerns about what had been extracted from the police systems, by Lunn, to further his own commercial enterprise. Sgt Jonathan Dunkerley (as he was then) said: ‘It worrys (sic) me what he may have ‘taken’ with him from WYP systems that is clearly for personal gain. It’s obvious the monies and stakes are high’.

It also appears that Lunn was involved in another covert ACU investigation, codenamed Operation Waffleedge. ACU investigations are normally given operational codenames, Professional Standards investigations are given unique reference numbers (URN’s). For example, the Opus complaint had the URN ‘CO/797/11’.

The covert investigation was confirmed in an email between the Intelligence Unit in PSD and Stephen Bywater, following additional concerns raised with PSD on 8th June, 2012 by D/Sgt Lockwood, regarding Lunn. It was obvious that DS Lockwood was not in the ACU loop. The Waffleedge investigation was already under way:

‘We have received this request from Andy Lockwood about Mark Lunn. We are working on Mark LUNN for Op Waffleedge. What do you want to happen. Does someone contact DS Lockwood and let him know of our concerns? Or does the Intelligence Unit just do the work as requested?’

The police, in defending the unlawful arrest claim made by Dr Rashid, have given a variety of explanations for the Waffleedge investigation at pre-trial hearings, at the final hearing and in documents disclosed to the court. Including the proposition, submitted in court, that ‘Waffleedge was not a covert operation’. Taken together, they arouse the reasonable suspicion that the true findings of that investigation are being concealed, to the significant detriment of both Dr Rashid, the integrity of the Operation Thatcham investigation and, most crucially, public confidence in the police force.

There is also a freedom of information request in which West Yorkshire Police have refused to provide any information at all. They will not even confirm or deny Operation Waffleedge exists (read more here).

An appeal against the refusal by the police to disclose uncontroversial details about the investigation is, presently, being considered by the Information Commissioner. It is likely to be, ultimately, determined before an information rights tribunal. That is the only conceivable chance of prising at least part of the truth about Waffleedge from West Yorkshire Police.

Mark Lunn was, remarkably, not called to give evidence at the hearing into the unlawful arrest claimed by Dr Rashid. One of the reasons heard in court was an incredible submission by Miss Checa-Dover, at the pre-trial hearing before HHJ Neil Davey QC, that ‘the police couldn’t locate him’.

Amongst Lunn’s Facebook friends are Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) investigator, Mohammed Ejaz, and the present Chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation, Brian Booth. Which, apart from laying to waste the proposition that Lunn couldn’t be found, presents an interesting challenge to those organisations, and damages public confidence in both by exhibiting a close association with a ‘bad apple’ police officer. Questions have been put to them both, individually, and to their respective press offices.

Quite apart from which, it took less than 20 minutes, using open source material, for the author of this article to locate Mark Lunn. His home address, the names of the two businesses he now runs (jobbing builder and free range eggs vendor), his mobile telephone number, his Facebook account, and his LinkedIn account.

The trail of destruction he left behind as a police officer has lasted rather longer than 20 minutes – and it may not have ended yet. It appears from the various police correspondence, and reports, forming the rump of this article, that senior officers may have taken the decision to hide Lunn away, in what they believed was a noble cause and until the Thatcham investigation was completed, and not disclose his misdemeanours to those charged with offences arising from it. That may have influenced the defendant’s decision whether to plead guilty, or not, at court.

There has to be considerable doubt as to whether the trials would have proceeded if the fruits of the ACU and PSD investigations into Mark Lunn had been properly served on the CPS and the defendant’s legal team, as part of the police’s strict duty under the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act, 1996.

Dr Rashid’s barrister, Ian Pennock of Park Lane Plowden Chambers in Leeds, raised this issue in court during his final submissions. He said that if the Lunn disclosures were not made, and it is more likely than not they weren’t, this could amount to a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and required further investigation.

The judge observed that it didn’t matter as the defendants had pleaded guilty and the time for any appeal against conviction had lapsed. He did not address the core point of alleged police wrongdoing, or explore with the police legal team whether the criminal defence teams (or the CPS) of those convicted were, in fact, notified of Mark Lunn’s role in the investigation and his taint upon it. The CPS has been approached for comment.

A complaint is being made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, by Dr Rashid’s legal team, with a request that another police force is appointed to investigate those allegations of perverting the course of justice.

That, regrettably, is founded more on hope than reality.

Recent history shows that the disgraced police watchdog and their local ‘masters’, West Yorkshire Police, will not want to lift the lid on this stinking Thatcham barrel. Both have steadfastly resisted calls to instigate a proportionate and independent investigation into the alleged serious failings of senior police officers over the industrial scale child sexual abuse, drug dealing, human trafficking in Huddersfield by Asian gangs – described recently by one outspoken media commentator as ‘Grooming Gang Central’.

A common link is that the Divisional Commander of Kirklees from 2009 to 2012 was Chief Superintendent John Robins, now, no less, the chief constable of that same West Yorkshire Police (read WYP biography here).

The child sex scandal and the Operation Thatcham debacle both happened on Robins’ Kirklees watch. As were the seeds of the outrageous lawlessless sown that has now seen  ‘Horrible’ Huddersfield grow into the worst place to live in the UK (read more here).

 

Page last updated at 1100hrs on Wednesday 9th October, 2019

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Photo credit: Huddersfield Examiner

© Neil Wilby 2015-2019. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.