Doctor finds the right remedy

A bitter eight year battle against West Yorkshire Police has ended in victory for a Bradford doctor and medico-legal practitioner, Abdul Rashid

In a judgment handed down by Mr Justice Lavender in Leeds High Court on Friday 25th September, 2020 it was held that the police had unlawfully arrested Dr Rashid at his home in March, 2012 in a dawn raid involving 16 officers.

He was suspected of involvement of what became known as ‘crash for cash’ insurance claims. No allegation of that nature, or indeed any other criminal allegation, was ever put to him in over 30 hours of police station interviews. The questioning by detectives was described as ‘immature and largely pointless’.

A civil claim followed, alleging wrongful arrest, trespass and false imprisonment and was eventually heard at Bradford Law Courts in September, 2019. Dr Rashid was represented by Ian Pennock of counsel and local solicitor, Simon Blakeley. Counsel for WYP, Olivia Checa-Dover and Daniel Penman were instructed by Alison Walker, Deputy Head of Legal Services within the police force (full day by day trial report can be read here).

After a bitterly fought, ten day liability hearing, the claim was peremptorily dismissed by Mr Recorder Nolan QC, who found that the police had both reasonable grounds to arrest Dr Rashid and there was a necessity to do so, rather than ask him to attend for voluntary interview. The judge awarded costs of around £130,000 against Dr Rashid following the hand down of the judgment.

At the time, both the doctor and his legal team were perplexed over the judge’s findings and felt strongly it did not reflect either the evidence or legal argument (read more here). It is also true to say that they were dismayed at what had been allowed to pass for disclosure, wherein it seemed that the materials had been weeded by the police to take out almost every document that would either assist the claimant or expose what was plainly a ‘cover-up’ over a ‘bad apple’ officer who effected the arrest (read here). 

The demeanour of Ben Nolan QC, throughout the trial, was also a cause for concern and may yet be the subject of a complaint to the Judicial Complaints Investigation Office.

An appeal for permission to appeal was lodged with the High Court the following month and was granted ‘on the papers’ in December, 2019 by the same judge who, ultimately, gave judgment.

Dr Rashid’s appeal focused on the adverse findings by the judge in the trial on these central issues:

 – Whether the arresting officer, Detective Constable Mark Lunn, and his fellow officers (a) honestly, and (b) reasonably believed:

(i) that there were reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence had been committed by the Claimant; and

(ii) that it was necessary to arrest the Claimant to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence

 – Whether the search warrants had been obtained lawfully and by due process.

 – Whether the Claimant would have been lawfully arrested by another officer, if he had not been arrested by DC Lunn. This was referred to as the “Lumba Parker issue” at trial, by reference to Parker v Chief Constable of Essex Police [2019] 1 W.L.R. 2238. Parker being better known as the former television celebrity, Michael Barrymore. The 2011 Supreme Court case of Walumba Lumba versus the Home Secretary  is now an oft-cited legal authority on the tort of false imprisonment (read more here).

 – Whether the ex turpi causa doctrine applied. Otherwise known as the defence of illegality, deployed by law enforcement agencies when an arrest has been otherwise deemed as unlawful.

The thrust of the appeal was, obviously, that the primary conclusion of the Recorder, of the arrest being lawful, was wrong. The adequacy of the Recorder’s reasoning was also challenged.

The full appeal hearing took place remotely, via Skype Business, in early May, 2020. In spite of one or two minor technical hitches it was comfortably completed within the estimated time of one day (read report here).

The delay in handing down the judgment is believed to be, at least in part, due to Mr Justice Lavender’s wider responsibilities as a Presiding Judge of the North Eastern Circuit and the heavy administrative burden that comes with such a role. Especially in the time of a national emergency, such as CoVID-19.

The key points from the the judgment, can be summarised thus:

Reasonable grounds for arrest: The judge upheld Recorder Nolan’s finding that the arresting officer, and others in the group of officers involved in the planning of the operation, did have reasonable suspicion of Dr Rashid’s involvement in the crash for cash conspiracy, although the judge noted that the bar is set low for such suspicion.

Necessity for arrest: The judge found that the police not exploring the option of voluntary interview was fatal to their case. The use of the power of arrest must be fully justified and officers exercising the power should consider if the necessary objectives can be met by other, less obtrusive means. Here the bar is set quite high. In Dr Rashid’s case the police did not even consider an alternative to arrest. The justification for that arrest, prior to it being effected, was to seize his mobile phone, even though the officers agreed that the suspect, being an otherwise respectable, professional man would co-operate. In the event, the mobile phone was picked up by officers from his bedside table. He was in his night attire at that time, a situation reasonable foreseeable by the police given the early hour.

It was also held that the arresting officer is required to record in his pocket book or by other methods used for recording information: (i) the nature and circumstances of the offence leading to the arrest (ii)  the reason or reasons why arrest was necessary (iii) the giving of the caution (iii) anything said by the person at the time of arrest.

The police never made DC Lunn’s pocket note book available, so were unable to make out their case for the arrest being lawful in this regard, either.

In his witness evidence, almost entirely unconvincing throughout, Detective Inspector Mark Taylor told the court (i) that the time constraints of voluntary attendance may not have been sufficient; (ii) there was a need to secure information contained, in particular, on Dr Rashid’s phone; (iii) there was a need to obtain evidence seized on arrest for purpose of later interviews. 

In her closing submissions, Miss Checa-Dover has posited that ‘there was an obvious risk of suspects tampering with evidence or tipping off co-conspirators’. Ignoring the fact that almost all of them had been arrested, interviewed and bailed over preceding five months, and that DI Taylor during three days in the witness box had not raised this point. A detail picked up by Mr Justice Lavender.

The judge dismissed all three of DI Taylor’s reasons: The first one because there is no 24 hour limit on voluntary interview ( as a former custody sergeant a point with which the detective should have been familiar). The other two reasons did not suffice because the police said they had search warrants (although never produced at court) and, therefore, the only evidence that would have made the arrest necessary would have to be concealed on Dr Rashid’s person.

Additionally, given that he had been expected to be cooperative, according to DI Taylor’s own evidence, an arrest could not reasonably be thought necessary unless he had refused to cooperate (or given that appearance).

Lumba Parker argument: The judge, having concluded that there were no reasonable grounds for believing that it was necessary to arrest Dr Rashid, found that it cannot be said by the police that, if DC Lunn had not arrested him, another officer would have arrested him lawfully.

Also, on the same basis, there is no scope for the application of the Ex Turpi Causa doctrine, since the conduct on the part of Dr Rashid referred to in final paragraph of the Recorder’s judgment merely provided the occasion for his arrest, but did not cause him to be arrested unlawfully.

Mr Justice Lavender, accordingly allowed the appeal. The judgment of  Recorder Nolan is quashed and replaced by judgment, in favour of Dr Rashid, for damages to be assessed for his unlawful arrest.

If the police and Dr Rashid are unable to agree upon damages, a trial to determine causation and quantum may follow. In the meantime, a hearing before Mr Justice Lavender has been listed for 16th October, 2020 to deal with matters consequential to the judgment, including costs and any prospective permission to appeal application by either side (read more here).

Dr Rashid said after the hearing:

“The past eight years have been incredibly stressful for both me and my family in putting right all the wrongs caused by the unlawful arrest, which the High Court has now ruled to have been completely unnecessary. Not least, succeeding at judicial review in 2012, following a suspension from practicing as a GP, instigated by these same police officers; then being exonerated by the General Medical Council in 2016 of all the numerous false complaints made by these officers; and now this latest court success, 4 years later, gives some measure of vindication, but very little satisfaction. The chief constable should now publicly, and sincerely, apologise for the appalling conduct of not only a significant number of his own officers, but also those that represent him”. 

He added; “There should be a full investigation by the police watchdog into the fact that the police officer who arrested me was also holding himself out, at the same time, as a private detective to insurance firms, through a bogus company, and the whereabouts of the £183,000 said by the police themselves to have been paid to this officer by an insurance company at the time he carried out this completely unnecessary and unlawful arrest. The police watchdog, and the CPS, should also be looking very carefully at the transcript of the evidence given in court by DC Lunn’s line manager, DI Mark Taylor, and ask why he complied with an order by a senior officer in a conspiracy to keep the improper activities of the former DC Lunn secret from the people he was prosecuting, and the trial jury, which may make their trial unfair and convictions unsafe”

Finally, he said: “I am very grateful to my barrister, Mr. Ian Pennock, who has remained steadfast throughout this ordeal and, along the way, has put those who believed they could deny me justice, firmly in their place”.

West Yorkshire Police press office was been contacted for comment. They did not respond.

Page last updated: Thursday 28th October, 2020 at 1255 hours

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.

© 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 Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Appeal hearing report: Leeds High Court Dr Abdul Rashid v West Yorkshire Police

The hearing was listed to commence at 10.30am on Thursday 14th May, 2020 before Mr Justice Nicholas Lavender in the Leeds District Registry of the High Court. It got under way shortly after 10.45am after dealing with some minor technical glitches.

Pemission to appeal was granted on the papers by the same judge on 17th December, 2019 sitting in Newcastle Cown Court.

The judgment under appeal was handed down by Mr Recorder Ben Nolan QC on 20th September, 2019 at the conclusion of a ten day trial (read full daily reports here). Dr Rashid is claiming damages against West Yorkshire Police (WYP) for unlawful arrest, unlawful detention and trespass over events that took place in March 2012 when 16 police officers attended his home in Bradford at 6.15am.

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The parties were represented, respectively, by Ian Pennock of counsel, instructed by Simon Blakeley and Olivia Checa-Dover of counsel, instructed by Alison Walker, Deputy Head of Legal Services at WYP.

The background to the appeal can be read here. There was palpable tension between the two legal teams, throughout the substantive hearing, most notably concerning disclosure.

The appeal hearing was held remotely via Skype Business. Quality of transmission was generally good and proceedings progressed smoothly. Particularly, as the judge’s dexterity in dealing with an elecronic bundle filed by the Claimant which, because of its size (232MB) was slow to load, and two lever arch files, supplied by the police, improved markedly during the morning session.

Mr Pennock, on behalf of Dr Rashid, took the court to the eight Grounds of Appeal upon which his client’s case is based. There are two further alternative Grounds that would only be triggered if the appeal succeeds.

But the first part of his submissions were taken up with what he characterised as ’22 bad points’ in the police’s skeleton argument, that had necessitated a supplementary skeleton argument from him, extending to 40 pages. He lamented that ‘the sideshow’ of correcting WYP’s version of facts and evidence, from the court below (the hearing at Bradford County Court), was not at all helpful to this court. It had, Mr Pennock said, required ‘a root and branch approach’, occupying a large amount of time, and the necessity of exhibiting a large number of passages from the court’s approved transcript.

The judge made clear that, whilst he would scan read the supplementary skeleton, it was not part of his judicial function to referee such class of disagreements between competing counsel unless, of course, they went to the heart of the matters under consideration in the instant appeal.

Mr Pennock focused to a significant extent on the police’s ‘shifting goalposts’ of the reasonable grounds for arrest of Dr Rashid, of which there are five different versions as things stand. The necessity of the arrest was also the subject of extensive discussion as another of the key appeal points.

There was a moment of levity after Mr Pennock explained that the ‘eccentric’ Dr Clive Tedd, upon whom the police relied for their ‘expert’ medical advice, claims to be able to induce whiplash injuries by clapping his hands. Something he had learned by buying second hand books on Amazon. Mr Justice Lavender enquired, deadpan, if Dr Tedd ‘had clapped his hands at trial’.

The final ten minutes of the morning session were taken up by Miss Checa-Dover, on behalf of West Yorkshire Police, and continued with her client’s response to the Grounds of Appeal after the lunch adjournment. She maintains, on behalf of her client, that the judgment from the substantive hearing was adequate, sufficiently well reasoned and that Detective Inspector Mark Taylor, the main police witness came through the examination and cross-examination of his evidence “with flying colours”.

As expected, Mr Justice Lavender indicated that judgment would be reserved and handed down at a future date, yet to be determined. There was a discussion with Mr Pennock as to whether, in the event that the appeal was upheld, he would be able to substitute his own findings for those of the court below and dispose of the matter substantively as opposed to ordering a re-hearing of the case before a different judge.

UPDATE: A more complete report of the hearing will appear in conjunction with the handing down of the judgment which is now expected to be handed down during the first two weeks of August, 2020.

 

Page last updated: Tuesday 28th July 2020 at 0715 hours

Photo Credits: Bradford T&A

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.

© 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.

A ‘car crash’ of a judgment

On 20th September 2019, Mr Recorder Ben Nolan QC handed down his judgment in a £5 million civil claim brought by Dr Abdul Rashid against West Yorkshire Police. It followed a Bradford County Court liability hearing lasting two weeks, during which evidence was heard from three police officers repesenting the defendant. The claimant, a well-known Bradford GP and medico-legal practitioner also gave witness box testimony.

The claim concerns wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and trespass over events that happened in March, 2012 during a police investigation codenamed Operation Thatcham. It, ultimately, resulted in the conviction of 45 men over what have become known as ‘cash for crash‘ fraud offences.

A terrifying pre-dawn raid, in a middle class suburb of Bradford, saw eighteen police officers turn up at the doctor’s home where he, his wife and three young children were asleep. Other squads of officers had been despatched to his two surgeries and other business premises. It was alleged he was part of a conspiracy to defraud, relating to the cash for crash claims, although no particulars were ever put to Dr Rashid in thirty-five hours of police interviews, across a seven month period. He was never charged with any offence.

Interview records show that the questioning of the doctor, by purportedly experienced detectives, was largely infantile and almost entirely pointless. The police simply had no evidence of criminal offences, but were down a rabbit hole without an escape route. Not least, because there is no incentive for any medico-legal practitioner to commit fraud: He (or she) is paid by an instructing lawyer, whether an injury insurance claim succeeds or not – and irrespective of the content of the doctor’s report. A point that seemed completely lost on the police.

Dr Rashid was eventually released from police bail in June, 2013. The justification for the arrest or, in legal terms, the reasonable grounds for suspicion of the offence for which he was arrested, lie at the very heart of the matter.

Notable for his absence from the civil court proceedings was the arresting officer, DC Mark Lunn, described in court as ‘a bad apple’, and about whom much has been written elsewhere (read here, here and here). The police, via their barrister Olivia Checa Dover, had told the court at a pre-trial review, seven months earlier, that they were ‘unable to locate’ DC Lunn – a matter later denied at the substantive hearing. The detective (the term is used loosely) was, in fact, working for the police watchdog, the discredited and now dissolved Independent Police Complaints Commission (re-badged in January 2018 as the Independent Office for Police Conduct), just 300 yards from police HQ, in a job actually facilitated by those who said they couldn’t locate him.

Lunn pic 3
Mark Lunn, whom the police were ´unable to locate´

An account of that pre-trial hearing, before HHJ Neil Davey QC, can be read elsewhere on this website by clicking here and has stood unchallenged since that time, including by the police to whom right of reply was offered.

A comprehensive day-by-day account of the final hearing can also be read on this website by clicking here. West Yorkshire Police tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent the author of this piece reporting on those proceedings in an attempt, not only to frustrate open justice (routine for them), but, more crucially, to prevent public exposure of the rotting effect of the ‘bad apple’ officer, culminating in what appears to be a shocking conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, by six of their officers in the same barrel, that has left an unpleasant stench hanging over the large number of Operation Thatcham convictions.

At the conclusion of those proceedings in Bradford Law Courts, conducted in a palpably toxic atmosphere throughout, Recorder Nolan dismissed the claim in controversial circumstances. Not least, because of the bitter and long-running battle over disclosure, or, more to the point, the lack of it, by the police. The handling of those matters, viewed from the press seats at least, appeared to fall short of the standards one might reasonably expect of an alert, fair-minded judge. It also must be said, by way of balance, that it is a feature of many civil or tribunal claims (and in some notable criminal trials) involving West Yorkshire Police; the latitude the force is frequently given from the bench, and a tame local media, simply encourages their bad practices.

A permission appeal to the High Court by Dr Rashid was, unsurprisingly, filed by his lawyers soon afterwards. It was granted on the papers (without a hearing) on 17th December, 2019 by Mr Justice Lavender. Not a common occurrence in such matters.

A full appeal hearing is listed for 14th May, 2020 before the same judge, sitting in the Leeds District Registry. It is, however, more than likely, in the prevailing SAR-COV-2 crisis, that the hearing will take place via video conference.

The written judgment of Recorder Nolan, typed, unusually, in 16pt with generous margins top and bottom, runs to 14 pages. It is littered with schoolboy syntax errors; headed ‘judgement’ not ‘judgment’; pages are not numbered; it is undated; and carries no unique case reference or details of the parties’ representation. It even includes an exclamation mark at the end of one sentence, unprecedented in the author’s experience, encompassing many hundreds of court judgments. Likewise, the sight of a barrister being addressed only by his surname is, similarly, unheard of.

All of which gives it an amateurish look: Surprisingly so, for a part-time judge who has been at the Bar for 49 years and, plainly, has a very high opinion of himself – and one not at all slow in derogating others, both in his courtroom and on social media. A memorable example being that hard-won press cards, hologrammed and with photo ID embedded, authorised by the National Union of Journalists and the National Police Chiefs Council, are “handed out to anybody“.

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There was no perfected copy of the judgment provided to the press and it was not published electronically by the court. So, this piece is grounded in what was handed, by the court clerk, to the two members of the press present at the time.

By the tenth, and last, sitting day, the claimant’s legal team knew what to expect. A hearing where one party, and their counsel, appeared to be favoured throughout was not going to end well – and so it proved.

But, it was not just the judge’s decision to dismiss the claim that caused dismay; that was already built into the claimant’s expectations. It was the perplexing way the background narrative was rehearsed, and the equally puzzling finding of fact, that gave rise to very considerable concern. As did the judge’s consequent rulings on the applicable law.

It is well-established case law that parties to a civil claim should be able to understand why they succeeded or failed. Indeed, it can be a ground upon which an appeal can, in some circumstances, be upheld.

In interview after the trial, Dr Rashid, a highly intelligent and accomplished individual with an acquired, if reluctant, knowledge of civil law and procedure, was, it is fair to say, completely bewildered. As was his legal team, Ian Pennock of counsel (the barrister simply referred to as “Pennock” in one section of the judgment) and his instructing solicitor, Simon Blakeley.

Moreover, taking the daily court reports as a starting point, it seems as though the Nolan judgment concerned a different trial altogether. Those reports, amounting to almost 12,000 words, stand unchallenged by both the police, and the judge, despite dark, but unspecified, mutterings during the trial.

The handed down judgment, most regrettably, gives the appearance of a pre-formed decision with threadbare, and in places, inexplicable or, indeed, a complete absence of cogent analysis or reasoning. The background narrative, and consequent fact finding, also appears to leave too many crucial issues unresolved and bizarre, apparently unsupportable, conclusions on at least two of the central matters: The credibility of the principal police witness and the diligence (and record keeping) of the Operation Thatcham investigation.

More crucially, to those adjacent to the applicable statutory framework, the judge appears not to have turned his attention to the state of mind of the arresting officer and each of his alleged reasonable grounds for suspecting Dr Rashid of committing the offence, for which he was arrested, and attached to them his reasoning for finding in favour of the police. That, one might say, was his primary function as sole arbiter of this claim.

From the press seats at least, the claim largely turned on the evidence of one police officer: Detective Inspector (DI) Mark Taylor. A sergeant at the time of the arrest of Dr. Rashid and the supervisor of the errant former detective constable, Mark Lunn.

Having previously served as a custody sergeant, DI Taylor was part of the Kirklees-based Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) recovery team. Lunn was seconded to that team from his previous role as a beat officer in Huddersfield and, later, that town’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

As reported contemporaneously, DI Taylor’s evidence underwent a remarkable transformation between examination on his evidence-in-chief by Miss Checa Dover and cross-examination by Mr Pennock. From a witness giving ready answers, with quite remarkable recall of detail from events 7 or 8 years previously, to a hesitant police officer constantly having to think carefully about what he was saying, and who answered thirteen times in the mode of ‘don’t recall, don’t remember, don’t know, can’t answer that, got that wrong’. Despite having been very closely involved in the police’s defence of the civil claim for almost three years before he gave his testimony in court – and in other connected regulatory proceedings, in which the police were the prime movers, since 2012.

In answer to Mr Pennock’s probing, he frequently had no explanation as to why many of the key documents that would have assisted the claim of Dr Rashid had either gone missing, been destroyed or were concealed from the claimant. Particularly, those that were effectively under his control, if the judge’s version of his role in the case is to be taken at face value. These include his own pocket books, day books, email trails, weekly reports to his superior officers, meeting notes, seized materials, copies of warrants and their supporting documentation (At the pre-trial review it was heard in legal submissions that DC Lunn’s emails were no longer available on the police’s ‘Cloud’ data storage. The judge at that hearing did pointedly observe that someone must have taken pro-active steps to remove them).

During cross-examination, DI Taylor was unable to direct the court to any document in the trial bundle – running to twelve densely packed lever arch files – where the reasons for a decision to arrest Dr Rashid are set out, and properly recorded, in accordance with authorised police practice. He did, however, concede, in evidence, that for such a major decision affecting a high profile and well-established local doctor he would have expected them to be recorded in the investigation’s policy log at the very least, together with pocket books or day books of those involved in the decision, meeting notes and his own weekly reports. It is a specific requirement under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984 (PACE) that notebook records are kept of actions preceding, during and after arrest of a suspect. DI Taylor, the supervisor of the arresting officer in Dr Rashid’s case, is unable to explain where those specific records are – or why they were not retained. Or, indeed, if they were ever made.

The court also heard that DI Taylor was centrally involved in the presentation, by West Yorkshire Police, of no less than five different versions of the ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion’ that underpinned Dr Rashid’s arrest. The first, in May 2017, being in answer to the filing and serving of the claim form, by way of their formal Defence; the last one during the trial, at the request of the judge whom, presumably, like most others present in court, was bewildered at the constantly changing police landscape. The second version was in an Amended Defence filed in July 2018 when it became clear that the original Defence was unlikely to resist the claim; the third and fourth differing versions were, respectively, DI Taylor’s witness statement dated December 2018 and his oral evidence from the witness box at trial nine months later.

One of the three remaining grounds cited by DI Taylor as the support for the decision to arrest the doctor, in that witness box testimony, from a list that at one time comprised twenty-one purported reasons, concerned a matter that only became known to the police over five months after the arrest. The other two were (i) an appointments list found in the vehicle of a person arrested in the first phase of the crash for cash investigation, but not subsequently prosecuted, and (ii) the alleged inadequacy of Dr. Rashid’s medico-legal reports. Those two grounds alone, says the detective, are sufficient to resist the claim of wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.

Examination of the trial bundle now reveals a different ground advanced by DI Taylor that is not in either of his witness statements or his court testimony. In an email to the Ministry of Justice he states baldly: ‘The main thrust of our fraud case: Was the doctor [Rashid] doing anything different to other professionals’.

The fact that all five (or now six) police versions of the reasonable grounds for suspicion are different is an important point; one that an independent reviewer might consider strikes at the heart of both the police force’s probity, and DI Taylor’s own credibility as a witness in these proceedings, yet is completely absent from the judgment. There is no reference to them at all, including the fact that the twenty-one shot West Yorkshire Police machine-gun had been reduced to just two weak blows on a pea-shooter.

Furthermore, on at least three occasions in the witness box, DI Taylor gave oral evidence that directly contradicted written evidence of his own that was to be found in the trial bundle. They were not minor points either, they were central to the police’s defence of the claim. It is more difficult to conclude that this class of historical revisionism was the product of innocent mistakes, or memory aberrations, given his remarkable powers of recall on his first day giving evidence.

Fortunately, for Dr Rashid, when taken to a compromised Third Party Disclosure Order (in successful proceedings wherein the decision of the General Medical Council to suspend the doctor from medical practice, at the instigation of DC Lunn, was quashed) which confirmed, many months after his arrest, that West Yorkshire Police confirm that [Dr Rashid] was not arrested on the basis of a specific allegation made by an individual outside, or within, West Yorkshire Police, DI Taylor, as Lunn’s supervisor, agreed that was how he understood the position to be. He was the disclosure officer in those GMC proceedings and, as such, attached to the persistent smearing of the doctor, by the police, then and ever since.

He could not, however, explain to the court why the note of a meeting, recorded on the policy log as taking place on 19th January, 2012, at which he claimed he was present, did not feature his name amongst the list of attendees posted by DC Lunn. That ‘team’ meeting was to assume high importance in the judgment, by way of deflecting Lunn’s central role in the arrest. DI Taylor claims that the grounds for Dr Rashid’s arrest were discussed there, even though the log only records that the decision to proceed was maintained. That strongly infers there was at least one other meeting, about which there appears to be no entry on the policy log, or entries in day books, or post-meeting email notes, or follow-ups. There was also conflicting testimony from DI Taylor as to whether the meeting was held in Batley or Bradford.

This January 2012 meeting appeared to be the only area of his cross-examination where DI Taylor’s powers of recall were revived. Distinctly remembering detail of a meeting with a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, Julian Briggs, whom, on his own admission, he either met, or spoke to on the telephone, almost every single working day during that era. Quite remarkably for a meeting of such purported gravity, no-one at that meeting, it seems, made any record of the grounds of arrest of Dr Rashid. Including the CPS lawyer. Or, if they did, the police chose not to disclose them. Another, one might say crucial, point absent from the judgment.

Under questioning, it emerged from DI Taylor that the policy log itself was a key part of the general shambles that threaded through the running and supervision of Operation Thatcham. DC Lunn, on the evidence and with his shocking disciplinary record, was an unwelcome cuckoo in the POCA nest at Batley Police Station. Curiously, as a lowly, inexperienced, self-aggrandising detective constable, with a history of unlawful arrest complaints against him, albeit unsubstantiated, and a stranger to the department, DI Taylor allocated Lunn an office of his own. In the face of him still being on a written warning over a previous internal police finding of misuse of the force’s computer systems.

The policy log created by DC Lunn did not, incredibly, form part of those same police systems and was not linked to either their force-wide servers or the more local Infoshare network. He could add, amend, delete any entry on the Word document and no-one would be any wiser. Operation Thatcham was, to all appearances, a one man maverick operation that breached any number of authorised police practices, management of police information protocols, codes of conduct and, very arguably, was operated outside data protection laws.

DI Taylor told the court Lunn had been ‘recommended’ to his POCA team, but he did not say by whom. It was not explained, either, why this major investigation did not fall under the remit of one of the specialist criminal divisions in West Yorkshire Police under the supervision of a qualified Senior Investigating Officer (SIO). [In response to a post-trial freedom of information request, West Yorkshire Police made a number of palpably false responses concerning these matters in order to further conceal Thatcham’s procedural shortcomings].

Although presented by the police as the officer in charge of Operation Thatcham, in an attempt to downplay the role of the discredited DC Lunn, DI Taylor gave conflicting evidence over the number of suspects arrested in the first phase of the investigation. He told Miss Checa-Dover it was ten, when it was put to him by Mr Pennock that the actual number was thirty-eight, it was conceded, reluctantly, that he ‘got it wrong’.

Thatcham was the biggest fraud investigation in the history of West Yorkshire Police with ninety one suspects arrested in total. DI Taylor, as noted elsewhere, had been involved in regulatory and civil proceedings against Dr Rashid for seven years, in matters arising from it. Yet couldn’t answer correctly a simple, basic question concerning the operation.

Mark Taylor’s dual role of supervisor of the discredited arresting officer in the criminal matter, then sole disclosure officer, conflicted but apparently unsupervised, in the civil claim, should have given rise to concern amongst those anxious to maintain public confidence in the civil justice system. But the seriously alarming catalogue of disclosure failings, with implausible explanations, or simply no explanation, attached to most of them, did not appear to cause any anxiety to the judge at all. Indeed, his verbal attack on Mr Pennock, on the last day of the trial, when the issue of disclosure failings was raised, yet again, was as unnecessary as it was unpleasant.

These were, in essence, the disputed disclosure points which should be read with these two comments from the judge very much in mind; (i) ‘I don’t want to deprive Mr Pennock of material which he quite rightly wishes to use’, (ii) ‘I don’t want this case to go wrong by dint of  disclosure error’ and also the admission from DI Taylor that he was ‘exhibits officer trained’:

– The reasons for arresting Dr Rashid do not, or no longer, appear in the operational policy log. No audit trail relating to that document has been filed and served by the police.

– The Word document setting out reasons for suspecting Dr Rashid of criminal offences, given to Dewsbury Magistrates’ Court by way of a formal application for search warrants of Dr Rashid’s premises, is not retained on the police server.

– DI Taylor’s workbook, covering, according to his own evidence, twelve significant police investigations during that period, and, more crucially, recording the reasons for arresting Dr Rashid, was missing. As is that of every other officer involved, including the arresting officer, DC Lunn.

– The police have not produced the weekly e-mail reports, from DI Taylor to his superiors, setting out the reasons why they wanted to arrest Dr Rashid. He told the court that they still exist and could be accessed via the force’s Enterprise Vault.

– During the phase one arrests in Operation Thatcham copies of scripts that were to be used by personal injury claimants, during their consultations with doctors, were seized. When both Mr Pennock, and then the judge, asked DI Taylor where they were, and why they had not been retained, there was an interjection from Miss Checa-Dover who asserted that ‘it has been years since the criminal prosecutions had ended [in fact, April 2014] and the civil claim issued [in fact, letter before claim issued December 2015].

– Appointment diaries seized by the police from other medico-legal practitioners involved in ‘crash for cash’ claims are missing. DI Taylor told the court, ‘they are no longer in the police’s possession because it’s [the criminal trials in Operation Thatcham] gone through the statutory appeals process’. He could not explain to the court, when asked by the judge, why, when the requirement is to retain such materials for 6 years, they were no longer available. He did confirm that a CD disc for each of the doctors’ diaries had been exhibited at the trial.

– Not one contemporaneous record of the reasons given for the decision to arrest Dr Rashid can be located anywhere in the many police records where one should find them or, indeed, where it is a serious breach of Police Regulations not to find them.

– The police seized Dr Rashid’s phone and laptop. From those devices they extracted text messages (SMS). They disclosed only part of those text messages (oddly enough those that might fit the police narrative). The PC and phone had been ‘wiped’ when eventually returned to him. DI Taylor, or the police lawyers when asked, have provided no plausible explanation beyond a haughty ‘we can’t disclose what we don’t have’.

– DI Taylor’s evidence in the witness box concerning both his own philosophy as an experienced detective and, more crucially, wider police force policy: ´If it is not recorded, it didn’t happen’.

Mr Pennock submits that these provide a more than a sufficient evidential base to advance the proposition that the police records had been ‘sanitised’ to remove (or conceal, or an admission that they never existed) all the contemporaneous reasons for deciding to arrest Dr Rashid. A plausible, indeed likely, reason is that the police subsequently believe such reason(s) to be insufficient to justify that arrest and, as such, resist the civil claim.

However, none of his highly questionable evidence, or witness box testimony that was not in either of his witness statements (very often fatal to the credibility of a live witness), or the list of disclosure failures, either of, or involving, DI Taylor, appeared to trouble Mr Recorder Nolan even slightly. Indeed, his judgment, incredibly, records him as ‘a truthful, reliable and extremely professional police officer of the highest calibre’. He embellishes that claim by asserting that ‘his evidence was wholly corroborated by contemporaneous evidence’ and, to top off, gives his ‘firm view’ that ‘this [Operation Thatcham] was a well-run, closely-monitored, highly competent criminal investigation’.

Mr Recorder Ben Nolan QC

It is, set against the evidence heard first hand in court, contemporaneous reporting and, for certainty, a review of the section of the transcript covering DI Taylor’s testimony, a passage in a judgment that is as astonishing as it is shocking. Even without taking into account the number of times he had to be ‘rescued’ or led by either the judge himself, or Miss Checa-Dover, when stuck for answers to questions put to him by Mr Pennock. Indeed, Dr Rashid’s lawyers submit that on at least three different occasions the judge appeared to stray into giving evidence himself.

The only conceivable explanation being, that if an objective conclusion had been drawn from DI Taylor’s variable and selective memory, and his contradictory, frequently unimpressive evidence; his troubling supervisory failings in the criminal investigation; and his highly questionable role as disclosure officer in the civil proceedings, then he would have been found as a witness whose reliability was open to serious question and the defence of the claim dangerously, and probably fatally, undermined.

Recorder Nolan, in the face of an invitation from Mr Pennock, also drew no adverse inference from the absence of the arresting officer from the proceedings, saying ‘although he is in name the arresting officer his importance to the case has been overblown’. An inexplicable finding given that it was drawn out in evidence that DC Lunn was the only officer working full time on Operation Thatcham during its first year, and, more particularly, the period leading up to the arrest of Dr Rashid, and, of over 200 entries on the investigation’s policy log in that timespan, the definitive record of decisions, rationales, actions and outcomes, every entry except one was made by that same officer. A policy log, under authorised police practice, is required to be the domain of the SIO, usually at detective chief inspector or superintending rank.

More crucially, the records of the trial clearly reveal that DI Taylor had conceded, very early in his cross-examination, by Mr Pennock, that Lunn was ‘the main man’.

DC Lunn was also, unusually, the author of the operational orders that were drawn up in connection with two different planned arrests of the doctor. DI Taylor said in evidence these orders would have been approved by a senior officer at chief inspector rank, or above. But couldn’t point the court to any written document evidencing such approval, although he asserted that the approval would not have been by telephone.

On any view, this was a one man band operating well outside conventional police constraints, with minimal and ineffective supervision. Indeed, the court heard that, in an email to a superior, Lunn described himself as ‘Team Thatcham’ in answer to a complaint about his conduct – and in a way that appeared to suggest that his pivotal role gave him a shield against any disciplinary action over any complaint from a member of the public.

The judgment is also absent of discussion, analysis, reasoning and reasons in relation to whether, or not, DC Lunn’s unauthorised, pirate activities as a private detective to the insurance industry; or an inadequately explained payment of £183,000 by a motor insurance company to that same serving police officer, via a bogus company, around the time of his arrest of Dr Rashid; the associated leverage to obtain the ‘scalp’ of a high profile medico-legal professional to promote both DC Lunn’s and motor insurance company interests; and, the startlingly deliberate decision by senior officers involved in Operation Thatcham, and three Professional Standards Department (PSD) officers to engage in what appears to be a prima facie conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, by keeping DC Lunn’s ‘extra-curricular’ activities secret from the criminal defence teams in the ‘cash for crash’ fraud prosecutions.

There is also no evidence that a thorough, proportionate investigation was ever carried out by the police, or the IPCC to whom the matter should have been mandatorily referred, into the whereabouts of that £183,000, or whether Lunn was acting alone, or in concert with other police officers, over monies that give off the strong whiff of an inducement to extend his powers beyond what was, necessarily, lawful. The judge again strays into error with his finding that, by leaving West Yorkshire Police in August, 2013, Lunn “jumped before he was punched (sic)”. It is clear from the trial bundle that disciplinary proceedings had concluded with ‘words of advice’ and DI Taylor’s testimony, during the hearing, is that he left because he had been sent to work back on the beat and was unhappy about no longer having detective status.

Even though in almost every other civil claim of this class he would be the very first port of call, DC Lunn never even provided a witness statement in the these proceedings, and West Yorkshire Police have gone to the most extraordinary lengths to conceal both his true role in the Thatcham investigation and the full extent of his own misdemeanours – and those, it appears, of many others involved in this case. In Lunn’s case that included lying in a post-arrest report about ‘patient records being strewed about the doctor’s home and car’. A matter that both the judge and DI Taylor found very uncomfortable to deal with when when taken to the evidence by Mr Pennock that there was no such occurrence.

The police were, and still are, condoning that alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in order to do so. At least one person, convicted via the tainted Operation Thatcham, has complained to their PSD about the conspiracy, since the conclusion of this civil claim, and the police have sought to disapply the requirement under the Police Reform Act to investigate this very serious matter.

The IOPC (formerly the IPCC), the notoriously toothless ‘police watchdog’, with so much to lose themselves, have also chosen to further break the law by not ‘calling in’ the investigation as a Recordable Conduct matter arising out of civil proceedings. They stonewall any questions about their shielding of the corrupted ex-DC Mark Lunn for over three years in their Wakefield office. The Home Office similarly block any press enquiries on the topic.

Returning to the Nolan judgment, Dr Rashid and his lawyers point to some of the matters that the judge sought to highlight in the background narrative that did not appear to have the necessary relevance to the matters to be determined in this trial or carried disproportionate weight. For example:

– Reference to a company named NK Business Consultants Ltd, and a payment of a £825 administration fee by Dr Rashid to that company, when the police had no knowledge of either the company, or the payment, until alerted by Stuart Davies of the Ministry of Justice on 17th August, 2012, over five months after the arrest. The fact that NK never appeared on the policy log supports that fact. [The judgment goes so far as to say that the payment to NK raised ‘intense suspicion’ pre-arrest based on DI Taylor’s witness box evidence].

– The appointment of his 19 year old nephew as a director of a company Dr Rashid has formed.

– A tenant of Dr Rashid who runs a claims management company, completely unrelated to the organised crime group featuring in Operation Thatcham, or any fraudulent claim, from the downstairs shop premises of the doctor’s private medico-legal offices above (thus keeping his private practice completely separate from his NHS surgeries), is suspected to be his brother. DI Taylor had confirmed in his testimony that ‘there was nothing unusual in this’.

– The police claim that Dr Rashid’s reports are of a poor standard [relying on an ‘eccentric’ doctor who admits to the police he ‘is no expert’ and just happens to be a friend of DC Lunn’s mother] and the scale of fees charged for the reports [which DI Taylor conceded in evidence were consistent with the market rate in the personal injury arena].

– Whilst being questioned about Dr Tedd, DI Taylor conceded that despite the entry on the policy log that the doctor was a family friend of DC Lunn, he knew nothing at all about the relationship until asked about it by Mr Pennock during the trial. ‘It´s actually news to me, even at this late stage’ said the officer purorted by West Yorkshire Police to have been running Operation Thatcham.

– How quality of medical reporting became a police matter rather than a regulatory issue [The GMC in a protracted four year investigation found nothing untoward with the reports].

Conversely and perversely, Dr Rashid and his legal team might well contend, taking the contemporaneous reporting, and their own legal note-taking during the trial, as guides, that much more relevant points were either omitted from the judge’s discussion of the case, or understated as to their relevance within the factual matrix:

– The police were told pre-arrest, by a number of personal injury specialists, that the way in which Dr Rashid runs his private medico-legal practice was not uncommon and the impact that would have on any of the alleged reasonable grounds for arrest or, indeed, its necessity. This was also confirmed by DI Taylor in oral testimony as was the fact that the police had omitted to disclose this in trial documents.

– The refusal of the police to call the arresting officer to give evidence of what he considered the reasonable grounds to be. Or for him to provide a witness statement when at the material time he was working, as a public servant, and for the police watchdog no less, in very close proximity to WYP HQ.

– The failure to preserve, or disclose, one single document where the reasonable grounds for arresting Dr Rashid could be expected to be contemporaneously, and expressly, recorded.

– The alleged failure to apply for an arrest warrant for Dr Rashid at the same time that they applied for a search warrant [In earlier preliminary hearings the police had told the court that there was no arrest warrant, a position they appeared to resile from at the final hearing].

– The failure of the police to produce evidence they seized, showing block appointments, appointment duration, fee charged, standard of reports, payments made and to whom, by other doctors. Especially, those in claims that were ultimately proved to be fraudulent.

– The fact that it is common ground that Dr Rashid never reported on any of the numerous proven fraudulent claims, or the fact that the police cannot prove and refused to disclose, any evidence that could even form a basis to say Dr Rashid had actually reported on a claim even suspected of being fraudulent.

– All the transcripts of Dr Rashid’s audio tapes, taken during patient consultations, are entirely consistent with his subsequent reports. The judge might have anxiously considered whether tape recording these interactions was consistent with alleged wrongdoing. If he did, it was omitted from his verdict.

– The fact that West Yorkshire Police knew pre-arrest that a number of other doctors actually reported on numerous proven fraudulent claims, and at least one of those doctors reported on all 14 fraudulent claimants in a completely fabricated ‘accident’ wherein all were said to have been in the same mini-bus, yet did not suspect that doctor of complicity with those fraudulent claims.

– There is no reference to the use of scripts by personal injury claimants or the fact that the police offered a ludicrous explanation for their absence from the trial bundle.

– The lawfulness of alleged reasonable grounds for arrest to be determined on a communal basis between a team of officers against the alleged reasonable grounds having to be held and believed by the actual arresting officer alone.

– Assuming there were reasonable grounds to suspect Dr Rashid of the stipulated offence, the law requires the police to also prove it was ‘necessary’ to effect an arrest. They already had search warrants for all Dr Rashid’s premises (obviating the need to arrest him to invoke powers of search). DI Taylor’s evidence in court was  that he had no reason to suspect Dr. Rashid would not co-operate with them and would have voluntarily attended for questioning. The priority, he said, was obtaining access to his mobile phone.

– The failure by the police to put even one specific allegation to Dr Rashid during 35 hours of interview over a five month period subsequent to the arrest.

– The immediate revelation, within six hours in fact, to the GMC and local Primary Care Trust of the fact that Dr Rashid had been arrested, the grotesque exaggeration of the alleged offences for which he was arrested and the avoidance of required protocol by DC Lunn, and his supervisor DI Taylor, and the circumventing of the WYP Force Disclosure Unit, who would normally undertake such sensitive matters involving regulated professionals. [The extraordinary and unauthorised missives from DC Lunn asserted to the PCT the commission of very serious offences as fact, even before one question had been put to Dr Rashid in interview. They were never, subsequently, corrected].

– The police repeatedly failed to identify any actual fraudulent claim or even suspected fraudulent claim, that Dr Rashid was even involved in.

– None of the medico-legal practitioners who were proved to have reported on fraudulent claims within Operation Thatcham, or indeed on a wider view, were arrested. This included Dr Ayoub whom had reported on the ‘headline’ case in that investigation, a bogus mini-bus crash that resulted in 14 fraudulent claims.

Other mistakes, ambiguities, under- or over-statements in the judgment include:

– No mention of the number of officers attending at Dr Rashid’s arrest (16) or its timing (6.15am).

– Dr Rashid’s release from bail in June 2013 came after a review of their original decision not to charge by a more senior lawyer, requested by the police, not after ‘a review of the evidence’.

– The false, improper and malicious notification to the GMC by DC Lunn is simply noted by the judge as ‘in the course of the investigation WYP notified the GMC’

– The judgment is silent on the point that Dr Rashid’s suspension was quashed by the High Court in September, 2012 after a senior judge presiding in that review, HHJ Mark Gosnell, had observed that ‘the police evidence against him was sparse’. Evidence gathered and put to the court by DI Taylor.

– Judgment records that the Insurance Fraud Bureau ‘assisted with’ Operation Thatcham which is a position from which their press office resiled when asked.

– The judgment asserts that one of the ‘crash for cash’ organisers, Nadeem Khaled, was a Director of Advanced Claims (UK) Ltd. That was not heard in evidence and, in any event, has no grounding in fact – as a simple check at Companies House reveals.

– The judgment repeatedly refers to Concept Accident Management Ltd as ‘Concept Claims’. It also asserts that Khaled was ‘replaced as a director’. It is a matter of public record that he never was an officer of any description in that company.

– A Lamborghini car leased from a finance company in Portsmouth was described as being ‘of dubious provenance’. It was the driver about which there were police and Ministry of Justice concerns, not the vehicle.

– The driver of that vehicle, Fouad El Habbal, was said in the judgment to be 19 or 20 years old. It is a matter of public record that he was 21 years old at the time of his arrest (born May 1990).

– The judge describes the prestigious 4 star Cedar Court Hotel as ‘a budget hotel’.

– The judgment states that CPS lawyer, Julian Briggs, ‘was present on earlier occasions when the team had met’. That, put shortly, was not the evidence of DI Taylor.

– The judgment makes no mention of DI Taylor’s unequivocal evidence that ‘the policy log was compromised‘ by the lack of time, date, entry identification (usually by author’s initials) and its remoteness from police systems.

– A passage in the judgment concerning how the nefarious activities of DC Lunn first came to the attention of senior officers also falls into error. The judge’s acceptance of DI Taylor’s account of events, against the factual matrix and another of the detective’s losses of memory is concerning to say the least.

– The judgment refers to pre-arrest interview notes (that were, strangely, undated and with no author identified): Because they refer to events that only came into the knowledge of the police many months later, they were plainly post-arrest notes.

– During the proceedings the judge referred to a payment by Dr Rashid to a solicitor as a “backhander” (in Yorkshire, and probably elsewhere, a term for a bribe). That is not how the GMC characterised it during their lengthy investigation into Dr Rashid, nor was any such suggestion, oblique or otherwise, heard in evidence from the police officers. The solicitor has never been subject of complaint, application or arrest over that payment.

– The judgment refers twice to the number of Operation Thatcham convictions as 48. That was not heard in evidence and no source is quoted. West Yorkshire Police, by way of a freedom of information request, say the number was 45.

That is a long and troubling list and readers are invited to form their own view as to what might, in the interests of fairness and balance, have been an appropriate level of care, attention and impartiality from the bench and, more crucially, might reasonably be included in the judgment of Mr Recorder Nolan, or excluded, and the impact on his decision to dismiss the claim. His almost complete absence of note-taking, throughout the trial, may have contributed to this catalogue of errors.

There are also similar misgivings from Dr Rashid and his legal team as to how the law was applied to the judge’s finding of fact. They will be dealt with more fully, in a separate article, after Mr Justice Lavender has unpicked the competing arguments and made his decision.

Mr Justice Lavender

Whatever the outcome of the this appeal by Dr Rashid, neither the police, for the manner in which they routinely conduct civil or tribunal litigation, or the judge who was, arguably, prepared to overlook too many of their shortcomings and sharp practices, emerge with credit. The latter, in the twilight of what appears to have been a distinguished legal career, might well, in future, take a leaf out of the book of the Recorder of Bradford, HHJ Jonathan Hall QC, when presiding over court proceedings. An exemplar in how to conduct any hearing.

UPDATE: Ben Nolan QC is presently the subject of an ongoing complaint concerning an offensive post he made on the social media platform, Twitter. Read more here.

Page last updated: Wednesday 13th May, 2020 at 0900 hours

Photo Credits: Twitter (@F10BENQC); Serle Court Chambers

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

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© 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.

 

 

Dr Abdul Rashid -v- West Yorkshire Police

Bradford Combined Court Centre is the scene for the opening of a civil claim between Dr Abdul Rashid and West Yorkshire Police. It concerns the arrest and imprisonment of Dr Rashid in 2012 and alleged trespass on his home. The pre-action letter claiming damages, exemplary damages and special damages was sent to the police in October, 2015.

The arrest of Dr Rashid was, purportedly, in connection with Operation Thatcham, an investigation into fraudulent ‘cash for crash’ motor insurance claims. 48 offenders were eventually convicted in two separate trials in 2014.

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Dr Rashid, at the time of the arrest, operated a successful medico-legal practice examining and reporting on those injured in such incidents. He was, in all cases, instructed by either lawyers, or claims management companies, and his reports were for the use of the courts, as independent expert evidence, rather than for the benefit of personal injury claimants.

He was also a general practitioner, operating from two different surgeries, under the auspices of the Bradford Patient Care Trust.

The hearing, expected to last nine court sitting days, starting on Monday 9th September, 2019, will be presided over by Mr Recorder Nolan QC.

The claimaint is represented by Ian Pennock of counsel, instructed by solicitor, Simon Blakeley; the police are represented by Olivia Checa-Dover and Daniel Penman of counsel, instructed by solicitor, Alison Walker, Deputy Head of Legal Services at WYP.

A report on earlier case management and pre-trial hearings can be viewed here.

Monday 9th September, 2019

Proceedings opened at 10.45am.

A panel of eight jurors has been selected (the prescribed number in civil claims) with two reserves. They have been sent home until 10am on Tuesday. Mr Pennock is expected to begin his opening speech shortly after that time.

The court will hear evidence from five witnesses for the claimant and the police will be calling two officers to give evidence on their behalf.

The trial bundle presently extends to 12 densely packed lever arch files.

There are a number of ‘housekeeping’ matters for the judge and counsel to deal with after the lunch adjournment. These cannot be reported until the conclusion of the trial, unless permission is given by the judge.

Court rose at 3.30pm.

Tuesday 10th September, 2019

The judge is now in court and the jury filed in a little late at 10.15am

Following an oral application made by the police yesterday afternoon, the judge has discharged the jury and he will now hear the case alone. The application was grounded in Civil Procedure Rules (CPR 3.1(1)(m) and 3.3) which cover case management powers and section 66(3) of the County Court Act, 1994. The judge ruled that it would be ‘utterly inconvenient’ for a jury to sit and sift through what he described as ‘a shedload’ of documents, including a policy (investigation) log that extended to 200 pages.

There is no automatic right to a jury trial in a civil claim (in legal terms it is a ‘qualified right’) and the applicable legal test is whether it is ‘convenient’ for a jury to do so. Given the sheer volume of paper (4512 pages in total), and complexity of some of the issues to be tried, the judge found that it, plainly, was not convenient and made his Order accordingly.

With no jury in a fact-finding role, the shape of the trial alters and there will now be a reduced number of witnesses on the claimant’s side.

There is a short break whilst legal discussions take place. Detective Sergeant Mark Taylor, as he was at the time of the arrest, will give evidence first, followed by DC Andrew Christie (no relation to retired WYP inspector, Cedric Christie, who features elsewhere on this website). Mr Taylor is now a detective inspector based in Bradford. He will be mostly referred to in these reports as DI Taylor.

The judge returned to court at 11am with a warning against use of mobile phones as cameras or recording devices. He had received a report that there was such use in court yesterday afternoon. He reminded all present that this is regarded as a serious contempt of court.

DI Taylor is now being examined on his witness statement in the case by Miss Checa-Dover. The court has heard a chronology of events, and details of the nominals involved, in the prior investigation that led to the launch of Operation Thatcham, the ‘crash for cash’ investigation. Dr Rashid, the police say, was arrested as part of this wide ranging probe.

The focus of the prior investigation was mortgage fraud and led to the conviction of two brothers, Nadeem Khalid and Thazeem Khalid.

The court heard that the Huddersfield (or Kirklees) district, where DI Taylor was based with the Proceeds of Crime (POCA) team, was an insurance motor claim ‘hotspot’, according to data produced by both the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB). The MoJ is the statutory regulator for those involved in the running of claims management companies; the IFB is a not-for-profit organisation specifically focused on the detection and prevention of organised insurance fraud. Earlier, pre-trial hearings of this claim have heard that the MoJ and IFB were partners in the Thatcham investigation.

Two claims management companies were of particular interest to the police: Advanced Claims Ltd and Concept Accident Management Ltd. There was also an associated car hire company with shared directors, Advanced Car Hire Ltd. Nadeem Khalid and another local man, Sahir Mohammed were the principals involved in those companies, the police say. DI Taylor told the court that Op Thatcham was, initially, focusing on those associated with Nadeem. The police also say that the latter’s business activities also included a company registered as NK Business Consultants Ltd.

Court adjourns at 13.05 with DI Taylor part-heard. He has been taken through a chronology of events, based on policy log entries, that presently stands at the end of November, 2011. DI Taylor has invited the court to view the policy log as more of an investigation log than a record of decisions, rationales and records of actions taken. Detective Constable Mark Lunn was responsible for many of the entries to which the court has been taken. DC Lunn was the Officer in the Case in the prior investigation and had taken credit for it in press reports following its conclusion (read more here). He was ‘recommended’ to the Op Thatcham team, according to DI Taylor.

He told the court that DC Lunn was tasked with scoping Concept Accident Management, looking at lifestyle, houses, cars, and the ‘intel picture’. As a result, it was concluded by the police that Sahir Mohammed had a lifestyle well beyond the means that his association with Concept (and Advanced Claims) might confer that ‘he was involved in wholesale fraud’.

It has been heard in evidence that Dr Rashid first became a person of interest to Op Thatcham detectives, and recorded as such on the police log, in October, 2011, following the discovery of an appointments diary, relating to lists of Dr Rashid’s patients, in the car of another person under investigation, Fouad El-Habbal.

A young man of only 21 years of age (according to Companies House records he was born in May 1990), Mr El-Habbal had come to the attention of police, and the MoJ, by driving around in a Lamborghini motor car, worth £140,000, without any visible means to support the purchase, or lease, of such a vehicle. The court heard that it was registered to an address in Portsmouth.

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A scoping exercise into the business activities of Dr Rashid was launched by DC Lunn on 8th November, 2011. DI Taylor told the court that this followed a conversation with him. The judge sought clarification over other evidence concerning Dr Rashid, apart from the appointments diary. DI Taylor said that it was the only link at that stage. A civilian fraud investigator, Anthony Thornton, was tasked with background checks on Dr Rashid.

The court heard that, in the same month, evidence related to the claims management companies (CMC’s) was seized at a location in Huddersfield known as Stadium Storage. It ultimately formed part of the evidence in the criminal trials that were concluded in 2014. DI Taylor asserted that this material contained the ‘smoking gun’: Details of how car crash claimants were coached to make personal injury claims by the CMC’s.

The judge asked why the documents related to the search, and subsequent prosecution, were not disclosed in the trial bundle. Ms Checa-Dover replied that they had not been located after extensive searches by both the police and the CPS.

The examination of DI Taylor has now reached the point in the chronology where Dr Rashid was arrested on 7th March, 2012. By this time, the court has heard, four decision makers were involved: DS Taylor (as he was then), DI Andy White, DCI Paul Jeffrey and Crown Prosecution Service complex crime specialist, Julian Briggs. The decision to arrest was made the previous month, says DI Taylor. The first operational order for the arrest was drawn up by DC Lunn and was dated 28th February, 2012, there was a subsequent, amended version dated 7th March, the day of the arrest.

The court heard that DC Lunn was, shortly afterwards, found to be in breach of professional standards over activities unconnected to his police role that were, it is said, carried out on police premises using police computers. He was removed from Operation Thatcham by DCI Jeffrey and moved to a non-investigative role with Huddersfield Neighbourhood Police Team [in June 2012]. The court heard that he was placed on a monitoring scheme called an Unsatisfactory Performance Plan (UPP). At an earlier hearing of this claim, before HHJ Davey QC, counsel for the police had submitted that DC Lunn had received ‘management advice’ as the only recorded disciplinary sanction. It was not disclosed whether this related to use of police computers for a non-policing purpose, or as a result of a different complaint. Miss Checa-Dover said the documents relating to the sanction had not been found.

The judge in the present trial noted that Lunn left West Yorkshire Police a short time later. DI Taylor advanced the view that Lunn was unhappy in his new position and that was the reason for his departure from the police service. The court has heard previously that the claimant’s legal team was of the belief that he, later, went to work for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), situated a short distance from police HQ in Wakefield. For their part, the police said they had been unable to trace him.

The examination of DI Taylor concluded at 3.40pm. Court rose shortly afterwards. A remarkable feature of the evidence heard today was the detective’s recollection of events that took place seven or eight years ago. For the most part he was clear, concise and consistent.

The cross-examination of the same witness will commence on Wednesday morning at 10am. Mr Pennock, counsel for the claimant, told the judge he anticipated being on his feet for most of the day.

Wednesday 11th September, 2019

Proceedings under way shortly after 10am, beginning with cross examination of Detective Inspector Mark Taylor. He was a sergeant based with the POCA team in Kirklees at the time of Dr Rashid’s arrest, as part of an investigation codenamed Operation Thatcham. He was the line manager of the Officer in the Case, DC Mark Lunn, presented by the claimant’s lawyers at pre-trial hearings as a ‘bad apple’. Both worked at Batley police station. [For clarity, DI Taylor’s position is that he was unaware of any activities of DC Lunn, prior to the end of May/beginning of June, 2012 that might support the claimant’s assertions of misconduct].

Ian Pennock is cross examining DI Taylor on behalf of the claimant. The thrust of his early questions is the extent of the role of DC Lunn in the both the initiation of Op Thatcham and its day-to-day running. DI Taylor has been presented by the police, in their written pleadings, and in oral submissions at pre-trial hearings, as the officer in charge of the investigation and the one best placed to present their witness evidence of the lawfulness of the arrest. DC Lunn was also the arresting officer in the actions central to this claim.

At the outset of his questioning, it was put to DI Taylor that DC Lunn was the ‘main man’ in Op Thatcham. He had led the investigation that resulted in the conviction of the Khalid brothers (read more here); he initiated Thatcham; was selected as officer in the case; and the only officer, from a team of six, who was working full time on the investigation; was allocated, as a detective constable, an office of his own. Reluctantly, DI Taylor agreed.

An email dated 26th March, 2012 from DC Lunn to Andrew Lockwood, a sergeant in Professional Standards, was shown to DI Taylor. In it, DC Lunn, when answering a public complaint of failing to return property, described himself as ‘Team Thatcham’. DI Taylor asserted that Lunn was not entitled to make such a claim. He was part of a team of six, that included DI Taylor (then sergeant) as his supervisor.

DI Taylor was taken to the policy log by Mr Pennock. It emerged during questioning that this document contravened a variety of policing protocols and practices (read Authorised Professional Practice here). For example: It was a free standing Word document with no police crest on it; it formed no part of any of the police’s recognised databases or systems; there was no records of decisions taken by the Senior Investigating Officer or rationales for such decisions; there was no restrictive marking on the document; no time or date stamp; it was not even marked ‘confidential’; there was no audit trail of entries or any amendments; no evidence of independent review or sign-off by a senior officer.

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Despite being put forward by the police as the man who could answer all questions pertaining to Operation Thatcham, and the civil claim filed by Dr Rashid, when asked by Mr Pennock, DI Taylor could not take the court to one single entry in that log that was authored by him. Almost all the entries on the policy log were made by DC Lunn.

DI Taylor could not explain, either, why there was a ‘big blank space’, in Mr Pennock’s words, in the policy log, where it appeared that at least one log entry had been erased. He could not say when the gap became apparent.

Eventually, DI Taylor was forced to concede, under questioning from Mr Pennock, that DC Lunn did, in fact, have day to day control of the Thatcham investigation. This is a sea change from the position advanced by the police at the pre-trial review in February, 2019.

DI Taylor also conceded that, as part of his wider policing duties and responsibilities, he had 12 other ‘live’ investigations, apart from Thatcham, and ‘one or two’ that were in the criminal court process.

Mr Pennock put to DI Taylor, in further questions, that his knowledge of Op Thatcham was not what the police purported it to be: The officer conceded that Thatcham was the biggest mass arrest fraud operation in West Yorkshire Police history: 38 arrests were made in Phase 1. In his evidence to the court yesterday, DI Taylor said there were around 10 arrests. Today, he told the court: ‘I got it wrong’.

As part of his supervisory role, the court heard that DI Taylor held regular weekly meetings with his team in order to review actions and progress. This included DC Lunn. A record was kept of these meetings, DI Taylor told the court, and a report sent ‘up the chain of command’, as Mr Pennock put it, as a form of briefing. When asked by Mr Pennock, as the officer presented to the court in charge of disclosure to the WYP Legal Services Department, in this claim, DI Taylor could not explain why those reports were not in any of the twelve volumes of the trial bundle. He did say, however, that, given the opportunity ‘he could find them’.

It was then put to DI Taylor that the decision to arrest Dr Rashid would be contained in at least one of those reports. He agreed that was the case. His recollection was that the decision would have been discussed with his line managers, DI Andy White and DCI Griffiths (the latter was DCI Jeffrey’s predecessor), and was not DC Lunn’s decision.

DI Taylor could not explain to the court why, even though it was what Mr Pennock termed ‘best practice’, the reasons for the arrest were not recorded in the policy log, or why there was no entry between 28th February, 2012 and 7th March. 2012. The first date mooted for the arrest and the actual date it occured. The reasons for the arrest, said Mr Pennock, appeared to be the appointments diary; the 10 minute interval between patient appointments and the charge of £470 plus VAT for the medico-legal consultations. These were set out in a post-arrest report prepared by DI Taylor, he continued. The detective agreed that it was his subordinate, DC Lunn, who had provided the investigation with the reasons.

Mr Pennock also put it to DI Taylor that when DC Lunn put together his reasons to ‘scope’ Dr Rashid’s business activities there was no mention of the appointments diary. He agreed that was also the case.

‘They did not raise suspicion did they?’ said Mr Pennock. ‘Difficult to assess’ was DI Taylor’s response.

Mr Pennock then questioned DI Taylor on the extent of the investigation into the far-reaching activities of the organised crime group, seemingly led by the Khalid brothers. DI Taylor agreed that, to the best of his recollection, during the investigations, no other doctor [apart from Dr Rashid] had been spoken to.

He was also asked if, even now, he fully understood motor claims and the legal proximity, or otherwise, of medical examiners to patients; the widespread use of questionnaires; the admin work done by claims management companies; block bookings. Following a discussion centering on questionnaires, and the examination of a sample included in the trial bundle, involving the judge and counsel for both parties, he answered ‘no’ to the rest of the question. Despite the questionnaire saying ‘Personal Injury Claims Questionnaire’ at the top, DI Taylor’s evidence was that it was not a medical questionnaire.

The court heard that the audio recordings of the patient examinations were seized, examined and investigated by the police. DI Taylor was asked if any analysis was done. The answer was, ‘yes’ to that, but ‘can’t recall’ if any discrepancies were identified. He also told the court that suspicions arising from the apparent high frequency of appointments, quality of reports and ten minute ‘slots’ were those of experts, not his own.

Mr Pennock then turned to those ‘experts’. The court heard that, pre-arrest, these appeared to be Doctors Tedd and Moffatt; mainly looking at Dr Rashid’s examination reports. Asked if these were experts that could be relied upon, DI Taylor told the court that he was ‘content that Dr Tedd was an expert’ and that Dr Tedd was ‘independent’.

Mr Pennock then took DI Taylor to the evidence in the form of an email from DC Lunn to DI Taylor in which it emerged that Dr Tedd was ‘a family friend’ of the Lunns.

The court rose at 11.35 for a 15 minute break.

Dr Tedd remained the focus of attention after the adjournment. DI Taylor could not explain why a reply to an email sent by him, seeking details of the doctor’s qualifications had not been disclosed in the trial bundle.

Mr Pennock asked if DI Taylor had made any enquiries regarding the doctor’s credibility, rationality, thought processes. ‘Not to my recollection’, was the answer. He also answered in the negative when asked about his [Dr Tedd’s] knowledge of medico-legal reports.

The court then heard that Dr Tedd had written to DI Taylor on 10th July, 2012 and offered the view that ‘10% of neck pain is caused by clapping of hands‘. He wrote again to the police in August in what DI Taylor said were ‘eccentric’ terms and in a manner, tone and content described by Mr Pennock ‘not commensurate with that of an expert’. A further exchange betwen Tedd and Taylor contained the doctor’s view that ‘whiplash doesn’t exist‘.

Mr Pennock put it to DI Taylor that Dr Tedd was dropped from the investigation ‘like a hot brick’ after that email exchange. DI Taylor responded: ‘I would not use those exact words’.

The subject of ‘missing’ police evidence was raised with DI Taylor, yet again, by Mr Pennock. This time it concerned materials seized in a raid on one of the rented units at Stadium Self Storage Ltd in Huddersfield and, eventually, used in the Operation Thatcham trials, at which over 40 fraud offenders were convicted in 2014. This comprised, said DI Taylor, of one box containing a large number of wallet files. Mr Pennock was under the impression there were more boxes. By this time, Mr Pennock said, a number of firms of solicitors were co-operating with the police in the Thatcham investigation. DI Taylor agreed that was the case.

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The judge observed that under ‘the six year rule’ the files should have been retained until 2020.

Mr Pennock said that Dr Rashid had been told during the pre-trial process that the files were ‘destroyed at the end of the statutory period’. DI Taylor told the court that the term ‘destroyed’ had come from him. His answer when questioned over non-production of that evidence to this court was ‘they were taken back to Batley police station’. He denied that any other WYP, or external, storage facility had been used. He could not tell the court when the files were destroyed, or by whom.

DI Taylor was then asked, once more, about missing disclosure. This time, Mr Pennock challenged him over the non-production of evidence that would ensure a fair trial and support the proposition that what Dr Rashid was doing, within his medico-legal practices, is not uncommon in the motor claims industry. DI Taylor had made this assertion to the CPS in a report he had sent to them in January, 2019. He said he had ‘no answer to that’. DI Taylor added: “Just because something is commonplace doesn’t mean it isn’t illegal.”

In that same report, the court heard that the police wanted to prosecute Dr Rashid to send ‘shockwaves’ throughout the insurance claims industry and get ‘other doctors to clean up their act’.

Court rose at 12.55pm for the lunch adjournment with DI Taylor’s evidence part-heard. At 2pm, Superintendent Richard Crinnion, acting Head of Professional Standards at West Yorkshire Police gave evidence.

The entirety of Mr Crinnion’s evidence was heard in camera and, as such, cannot be reported. It was submitted in open court that at least part of his evidence would cover Operation Waffleedge, an anti-corruption unit (ACU) investigation in which WYP has, at two pre-trial hearings, firstly submitted that this investigation was into DC Lunn then later said that he was not the target. Miss Checa-Dover told the court, at the pre-trial review, in February, 2019, that Waffleedge ‘was not an undercover operation’. Irrespective of that submission, it would be very surprising indeed if an ACU investigation carried out by any police force was not a covert operation.

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Supt Crinnion was in court for less than 10 minutes. After he had left the courtroom the cross-examination of DI Taylor resumed. Dr Clive Tedd was again the subject of Mr Pennock’s questions. The court heard that in a report dated 7.11.12, authored by the doctor, he stated: ‘I would not consider myself an expert in any medical field’.

Dr Tedd was one of two ‘expert doctors’ consulted by the police prior to the arrest of Dr Rashid. Mr Pennock asked DI Taylor, ‘where are the reports within the disclosure made by the police in this claim’. There was no answer. Miss Checa-Dover rose to inform the court that ‘the police don’t have these’. DI Taylor said ‘I would speculate that they (the reports) would have come via email to DC Lunn’.

Mr Pennock now returned to the activities of the police prior to the arrest of Dr Rashid. He put to DI Taylor that at 8.11.11 the police could not link the doctor to Advanced Claims UK Limited. ‘You had the appointments diary, but still no link’. DI Taylor agreed.

Attention then turned to the meeting, previously referred to in these proceedings, that took place on 19.1.12. It was between DI Taylor, Julian Briggs of the CPS (whom, the court heard, both met on an almost daily basis), DI White and DCI Griffiths. DI Taylor said he remembers this specific meeting. Mr Pennock asked: ‘Did anything stand out? Your memory is vague on other matters’. DI Taylor offered no explanation.

The issue of allegedly underdeclared earnings by Dr Rashid was touched upon by Mr Pennock. He asked DI Taylor if he knew how many reports the doctor had done in that financial year (2008/2009) and if that gave rise to suspicion. The detective did not know the answer.

DI Taylor was then asked if the investigation into his financial affairs revealed any criminal offences committed by Dr Rashid. He said, ‘to my knowledge, no’.

Mr Pennock advanced the view that the police focused on Dr Rashid because he was a high-profile doctor [in the motor claims industry] producing a high number of medico-legal documents: ‘They thought he looked ‘a bit dodgy’ because of the high volume of reports and what he charged [between £90 and £470]’.

At the conclusion of the day’s questioning, Mr Pennock put to DI Taylor the matter of payments by other doctors, solicitors, consultants to claims management companies. One of the companies mentioned was NK Business Consultants Ltd, whose name was raised briefly in evidence yesterday. His reply was: ‘During Thatcham I did not see any payment from any doctor, or agency, to a CMC’.

He was then taken to a document in the trial bundle, by Mr Pennock, who read out a significant list of payments made by such agencies.

The court has heard that the history of NK, according to the police, is that it is a successor company to Concept Claims, and before that, Advanced Claims (as far as is known, the original company).. Both, seemingly, controlled by at least one of the Khalid brothers. The police believed it had been set up to circumvent restraining orders on other bank accounts controlled by the directors.

Court rose at 3.40pm. The cross-examination of DI Taylor will resume at 10am on Thursday morning.

Thursday 12th September, 2019

The trial resumed at 10.15am in Court 7. Counsel for the parties went into closed session in the judge’s chambers and returned to court at 10.45am. Unfortunately, due to illness of one of the members of the legal teams, court has been adjourned for the day.

The judge asked the parties to be in court for 9.30am on Friday.

Friday 13th September, 2019

Cross-examination of Detective Inspector Mark Taylor resumed at 9.40 am. Counsel for Dr Rashid, Ian Pennock, opened by asking DI Taylor questions relating to ‘Frank’ which was the nickname of Fouad El-Habbal, previously identified in these proceedings as a young businessman living beyond his means, according to the police, and driving an expensive Lamborghini motor car.

It was established that the account ‘Frank’ was using to pursue his business as a claims manager, NK Business Consultants Ltd, had been ‘missed’ in the round of restraining orders applied to other bank accounts in the suspected frauds being investigated by the Operation Thatcham detectives.

DI Taylor told the court that the effect of these restraining orders was to monitor [as opposed to freezing] the bank accounts. The court heard that ‘Frank’ was ultimately convicted of perverting the course of justice by way of movement of funds from restrained accounts to the NK account.

It was also heard that no other person was prosecuted in relation to offences connected to that same bank account. ‘Frank”s actions occured after the arrest of Dr Rashid and were not, in any way, connected to him. It has emerged that ‘Frank’ was not convicted of any other offence connected to Operation Thatcham

Mr Pennock then returned to the Op Thatcham policy log that has featured centrally in the trial. The policy log ‘stops at 11.2.12, where’s the rest’ he asked. DI Taylor said he didn’t know. The judge, Mr Recorder Nolan QC then directed the police to check on this point. Olivia Checa-Dover, counsel for West Yorkshire Police, said there was a seperate policy log for Dr Rashid but that she would refer the matter back to her instructing solicitors for further enquiries to be made.

The court heard that there appears to be a gap between the two policy logs. At the pre-trial hearing HHJ Davey QC had ruled that all materials relating to policy logs should be disclosed by the police to the claimant.

In answer to the point, an ancient police adage, made by Mr Pennock, ‘if it’s not recorded, it didn’t happen’, it emerged that DI Taylor’s decisions were recorded in his Work Book (sometimes referred to, at the time, as a Blue Book) not on the policy log. His book that covers the period relevant to the issues in this case cannot be located. A further search is to be undertaken at the direction of the judge.

Miss Checa-Dover told the court that the police had found ‘a huge amount of materials’ in this case. The fact the Work Book appears not to be there could be attributed to a number of possible reasons: incompetence, policy, human error. ‘We are where we are’.

The judge asked that an officer be designated to look into the circumstances of how the Work Book came to be missing and what procedures were followed. ‘We need to know what has happened’, he said.

The evidence of DI Taylor is that he believes his Work Book may have been part of the unused materials in the Op Tahtcham trials which concluded in 2014. [If that is so, one might reasonably ask why the MG6(c) Unused Schedule for those trials has not been disclosed to the Claimant’s legal team].

He also told the court that force policy is that tWork Books are retained for 5 years.

Questioning then moved on to the warrants obtained for the search of Dr Rashid’s home and two offices: One annexed to the surgery and another at the medico-legal practice he ran separately. The notes that would have been attached to the warrant applications, at the time they were submitted to Dewsbury Magistrates’ Court, have not been disclosed to Dr Rashid’s legal team. Under questioning, DI Taylor conceded that these should still be retained on WYP servers. Asked by Mr Pennock if he had looked there for them, DI Taylor said he hadn’t.

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A search is also to be conducted for these items by the police at the request of the judge. As Mr Pennock put it to DI Taylor, these would give ‘reasonable grounds for the suspicion of offences’ that led to Dr Rashid’s arrest and good contemporaneous evidence of those grounds. DI Taylor agreed.

The judge asked DI Taylor how much detail would be attached to the warrant application. ‘Quite lengthy, which is usual for complex fraud’.

DI Taylor also said there were ‘numerous’ officers that attended Dr Rashid’s home at approx 6.15am on Wednesday 7th March, 2012 to execute the warrant. Mr Pennock had put it to him that there were 16 police officers present.

The court has heard evidence, in the form of read emails, that, within a few hours of arresting Dr Rashid, DC Lunn had made contact with the General Medical Council (GMC) with what he described as ‘our [the police’s] findings’. Before any questions had been put to the doctor in interview. Lunn said he was taken into custody over ‘large scale fraud, money laundering, connections with organised crime group’.

Asked if Dr Rashid was ever suspected of money laundering, DI Taylor answered: ‘Not by me’.

Mr Pennock then asked DI Taylor if he was aware that doctors are paid, whether or not personal injury (PI) claimants are found to be injured in a road traffic accident (RTA); DI Taylor said he knew that. Doctors are paid whether or not the claim succeeds: DI Taylor didn’t know that.

He also told Mr Pennock that he didn’t satisfy himself as to how the RTA/PI system worked, prior to the arrest of Dr Rashid. It emerged that the doctors DI Taylor relied on as experts, pre-arrest, hadn’t explained this system to him, either.

‘Did you ever investigate any solicitors, they must have been part of the same [alleged] fraud’ asked Mr Pennock. DI Taylor said ‘no’.

Mr Pennock: ‘No solicitors suspected [of conspiracy to defraud]’ DI Taylor: ‘No’.

When asked by Mr Pennock if the fact solicitors agreed fees with doctors, for between £90 and £470 [per examination], should not cause concern, DI Taylor said ‘no’.

Questions then turned to the custody record and the question of the necessity of the arrest of Dr Rashid. The judge interjected and reminded counsel that the applicable test in law is ‘Wednesbury reasonable‘.

The question of why the arresting officer, DC Lunn, was not giving evidence in this trial was put to DI Taylor. He replied that ‘he was not party to that [decision]’. When asked if he could find him, DI Taylor said: ‘I’m a police officer, I can find anybody‘.

Miss Checa-Dover had told the court at the pre-trial review in February, 2019 that ‘Mark Lunn couldn’t be traced’ by West Yorkshire Police.

The court then heard evidence, in the form of extracts read from police internal emails, that whilst working as a police officer, mainly investigating Dr Rashid, DC Lunn was holding himself out as a private investigator. He was using the name ‘Insurance Fraud Consultants Ltd‘. DI Taylor agreed, to the best of his recollection, that this company was not registered at Companies House.

Mr Pennock said that Lunn had been offered £183,000 funding to set up his company. He was corrected by the judge who said that ‘Lunn had asked for £183,000, and was not offered it by the insurance company‘.

Taken to an email from Sergeant Andrew Lockwood of the Professional Standards Department, to DCI Jeffrey, that said ‘he (Lunn) had got the funding’, DI Taylor said he didn’t know of this. He told the judge that the first he knew of Lunn’s private enterprise was when a POCA team colleague, DC John Barratt, told him about some of Lunn’s telephone conversations that he had overheard. He was very upset, the court heard. This happened towards the end of May, or the beginning of June, 2012.

Opus Law, a firm of Bradford solicitors, had made a formal complaint against DC Lunn on 14th May, 2012 regarding the private investigator concerns. This eventually found its way to DI Taylor on 7th June, 2012 when he was copied into an email sent by Sgt Lockwood to DC Lunn seeking an explanation of the matters raised against Lunn by Opus.

Court rose at 12.35pm and resumed at 1.30pm

The court heard that DC Andrew Christie, from whom more will be heard next week, was tasked with producing a disclosure report to GMC. DI Taylor signed off this report. When asked why the force’s specialist disclosure unit was not deployed, DI Taylor said that he had consulted with them, and with Andrew Keeling, his main point of contact at the GMC.

Mr Pennock then took DI Taylor to the dynamics of the investigation, and the shifting ground as it progressed. He asked when it became apparent that Dr Rashid was to be separated from Operation Thatcham; payments to Dr Rashid were no longer a cause for concern; and there was no issue with Dr Rashid’s tax affairs. The detective answered to the effect, on all three issues, that he couldn’t assist with a date.

DI Taylor was asked again about the Advanced Claims UK Ltd evidence seized from Stadium Storage. Mr Pennock put to him that, if his evidence was that there was only one box, why had Advanced rented a storage unit for just that? DI Taylor had no explanation.

Court rose at 2.45pm shortly after the conclusion of the cross examination of DI Taylor.

Monday 16th September, 2019

Proceedings resumed at 10.05am this morning with the examination and cross examination of Detective Constable Andrew Christie. His evidence concerned an investigation he had carried out which led to a large amount of disclosures, and 40 pages of submissions, to the General Medical Council (GMC) concerning Dr Rashid and the allegations being put to him at that time by the police. DC Christie had joined the POCA unit as part of D/Sgt (as he was then) Mark Taylor’s team in March 2012 and started working, more or less straight away, on this probe. The court heard two days of evidence from Mr Taylor (now an inspector) last week.

DC Christie was asked to clarify 4 points, by counsel for West Yorkshire Police, Miss Olivia-Checa Dover: The restraining orders obtained on the bank accounts of Concept Claims UK Ltd operated by ‘Frank’, the nickname of Fouad El-Habbal; the personal injury claimants (referred to also as ‘patients’) examined by Dr Rashid, with the focus being on ‘genuine’ accidents; How this informed what was disclosed to GMC; lastly, an analysis produced by DC Christie that looked at formulaic reporting of the patient examinations.

He told the court that the restraining orders against Frank’s accounts were obtained in October, 2011; ‘genuine patients’ were identified as: not being known to police; the accident was recorded on police systems; and there were no links between the patients and Concept. He was instructed to prepare the report to GMC by senior officers, who relied on medical experts, Dr Colin Holburn and Dr Watson, to assist their decision-making. They principally advised on level of physical contact between doctor and patient when assessing injuries, and ‘good medical practice’; the analysis referred to had formed part of a MG3 document submitted by the police to the CPS [an MG3 is a short overview of the reasons why the police consider there is sufficient evidence to charge a suspect] and it considered the use of identical phrases, and other standardisation, across a number of reports made by Dr Rashid.

The court also heard that as a result of analysis of CCTV, at locations where block bookings of patients were made, the average time for examination by Dr Rashid was calculated by DC Christie to have been between 7 and 8 minutes. Only two went over 10 minutes, and the longest was 16 minutes.

Mr Pennock then began his cross examination by asking if production orders were obtained for solicitors’ files where they were involved in instructing Dr Rashid to carry out examinations.  DC Christie agreed that was the case.

The court heard that none of the contents of these files, including the letters of instruction and personal injury claim questionnaires, were disclosed to the ‘expert’ doctors involved in advising the police. Instead, they were asked to rely on witness statements taken from patients identified from CCTV and the dictaphone recordings that Dr Rashid made of every examination, together with the report of those examinations compiled by him. All except one of the 12 witness statements was taken, face to face, by DC Christie.

DC Christie said he had read the solicitors’ files but couldn’t recall seeing any letters of authority in which patients confirmed they had read Dr Rashid’s report and signed the letter to confirm its accuracy. Those letters were not disclosed to the police experts. DC Christie said he couldn’t see their relevance.

The detective also said some patients said in their witness statements, they didn’t recall seeing their medical reports, or signing them.

The matter of personal injury questionnaires sent to patients, in advance of examination by a doctor, was then ventilated. Mr Pennock put it to DC Christie that these were important in terms of reducing the time needed to examine a patient, DC Christie’s evidence was they gave some information, were more of a general claim form than a medical questionnaire, and that at least one patient who gave evidence for the police investigation recalled seeing one.

Mr Pennock made the point that examinations that only took 4 minutes may have been of a patient with relatively minor injuries who had already made a full recovery. He also said in questioning that the police relied almost entirely on statements taken from witnesses, years later, but didn’t send any contemporaneous documents to the GMC. DC Christie agreed with the latter but said he couldn’t recall whether the patient who was seen for 4 minutes had recovered, or not.

DC Christie said he couldn’t recall seeing a letter, sent by the GMC to West Yorkshire Police, informing them that they had refused to put these matters raised by him, and the patients in their witness statements, to their Fitness to Practice Panel.

DC Christie’s witness box evidence concluded at 11.25am

Dr Rashid entered the witness box at 11.50am and was still part-heard at 1.15pm when court adjourned. His counsel, Ian Pennock asked just the one question and sought to adopt the rest of the doctor’s evidence from his witness statement: Dr Rashid was asked to confirm in what way, and by whom, he would be asked to conduct examinations of personal injury claimants. He explained that instructions would come from solicitors or medical reporting companies.

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The judge asked him to confirm if separate staff were deployed in his medico-legal practice. The doctor told him that, when he started out, he used his general practice staff, who worked overtime. Once established, he had a separate office and separate staff.

Miss Checa-Dover’s questioning this morning focused on text messages received in 2010 and 2011 by Dr Rashid from persons with whom he had a professional, or more familiar, connection.  She explored the duty of the doctor [or any other doctor in the same position], to the court and as an expert medical witness, upon receiving such messages and the actions he took as a result.

A number of those messages were from Jamil Dad, with whom Dr Rashid had a burgeoning professional relationship. Mr Dad was also involved in promoting Dr Rashid’s medico-legal credentials and was paid for that work. They would meet to exchange cheques for the various services each carried out for the other.

The court heard several times that the text messages sent to Dr Rashid had been included, by the police, in the trial bundle, but the replies from him were not.

After a discussion involving both counsel, the judge asked that the police provide a final explanation as to why they were not seized from the doctor’s computer. The incoming messages had been downloaded from a backup of the doctor’s mobile phone which rested on the hard drive of his computer.

The court was also told that the police did not seek to prove that any examinations carried out by Dr Rashid were part of fraudulent claims.

The afternoon’s questioning of Dr Rashid, by Miss Checa-Dover, focused on those text messages. The point she advanced repeatedly was that same one made earlier in the day, Dr Rashid had breached his duty to the court, as an expert witness, by not reporting potential conflicts of interest. Those conflicts arose mainly through contact with members of the families of claims managers, Nadeem Khalid, ‘Frank’, and instructing solicitor Jamil Dad.

Dr Rashid explained that he maintained his professional independence at all times, his prognoses and reports were always open to external scrutiny, and, to the best of his recollection, would have discussed any conflicts with solicitors.

He also said he couldn’t be sure that he knew that those patients were connected to Khalid, Frank and Dad at the time of the examination. The court was of told of ‘a traumatic ten years’ suffered by Dr Rashid which had affected his recall of events

Miss Checa-Dover referred Dr Rashid to practice rules which state: ‘…only continue as expert if there is no conflict of interest’. The doctor conceded that he had not discussed these matters with the courts concerned, or the other parties in the injury claim.

She also put it to the doctor that some solicitors involved in discussions regarding potential conflict of interest would, themselves, have been part of that conflict. It was a ‘red flag’ issue, she said. The judge also pointed out that Mr Dad and Mr McIllaney were ‘not independent of the conflict’.

The court also heard that Khalid and ‘Frank’ had presented themselves to Dr Rashid as personal injury claimants. This was a few months after a meeting had taken place at Akbars restaurant in Bradford, between the three of them; Jamil Dad; and a solicitor from Wakefield, Damian McAlinney, in order to explore how they could further their respective businesses in the personal injury claims field.

A commercial agreement was reached whereby Dr Rashid was to be the doctor of choice of Advanced Claims UK Ltd (ACL) and, in return, he would pay ACL £50 per patient referral. Dr Rashid said that other doctors made payments to claim management companies in the same way. [DI Taylor said in his evidence that it was ‘common practice’ in the motor claims business].

Miss Checa-Dover put to Dr Rashid that he was asked to pay off the debt of a previous doctor to ACL. He said he didn’t recall being asked by Mr Dad to do so and no such payment was made. His recollection of that matter came from police interviews.

Dr Rashid was questioned about an examination where the injury claim patient claimed the accident was a side-on impact, but the injuries claimed were consistent with front to back displacement. He said he couldn’t recall the specifics of that examination but would rely largely on the account of the person being assessed.

The court had heard earlier from DC Christie on this topic. The mechanism of the accident was set out in the personal injury questionnaire, filled in by the claimant before the appointment with the doctor.

The judge asked Dr Rashid if he recalled any adverse reports he had made after examining an injury claims patient. The doctor said he recalled one in particular because it had caused a ‘falling-out’.

Miss Checa-Dover then questioned Dr Rashid on the layout of his report form. She was told that it was developed from a Ministry of Justice template issued in 2010. The doctor also confirmed that his administrative staff typed out the reports from his audio recordings and inserted an electronic signature. He then checked them before they were sent out. The court heard that his proof reading of reports had come under scrutiny by the General Medical Council and found to be satisfactory.

Dr Rashid was asked about his reaction to finding out that Nadeem Khalid, with whom he was conducting a significant amount of injury claims business, had been convicted of fraud in March 2011. He said he was told that Khalid had been prosecuted over mortgage fraud and would have been alarmed at discovering that Khalid was a convicted fraudster.

He tole the court that he had subsequently discussed the matter with Jamil Dad ‘to make sure our work was above reproach’.

The court heard that Dr Rashid had provided Khalid with a reference before the trial and that payments were made to ACL and Concept [the claims management companies] after the conviction of Khalid.

Court rose at 3.50pm

Tuesday 17th September, 2019

The cross examination of Dr Rashid continues. Miss Checa-Dover, counsel for West Yorkshire Police, is asking questions. She carries over the theme from yesterday relating to the conviction of ‘Noddy’ (Nadeem Khalid) in March 2011 and now his arrest, in prison, in October, 2011 as part of Operation Thatcham. He was arrested along with ‘Juggy’ (Sahir Mohammed) and ‘Frank’.

‘Was this another big red flag?’, she asked. Dr Rashid told the court that, although it was a big concern for him, the claims management companies remained regulated by the MoJ post arrest. The court heard that he had been informed of the arrests by Mr McIllaney, but he did not know the reason why.

Counsel then asked the doctor if he considered the option of terminating his working with Concept Claims following arrest. His reply was that his instructions for expert reports came from solicitors, not the claims management company.

The court heard that Dr Rashid had a conversation with Mr McIllaney in which they discussed ensuring that the arrest of the three suspects did not impact adversely on their respective practices.

Asked about contact with Frank the day after his arrest, the doctor said that he had called to find out more details. He went on to tell the court that ‘police have been through my medico legal practice, and all my reports, with a fine toothcomb. At the end of that, my integrity remained intact and there was no finding of my involvement with any fraudulent activities’.

Miss Checa-Dover turned her attention to payments being made to Concept/ACL (the CMC’s) after the arrest of the principals: ‘You were still sending money after their bank accounts were frozen’.

Dr Rashid said that it was industry practice to pay CMC’s promptly and ‘everything I sent is noted and accounted for’. The judge observed that Dr Rashid had been provided with another bank account, at Barclays, into which to make payment. This was the bank account of NK Business Consultants Ltd referred to earlier in the proceedings.

He was then asked by Miss Checa-Dover if he could recall Gill, a solicitor with a firm by the name of JCA Solicitors, telling him they had decided not to work with Concept from 11th November, 2011, one month after the arrest. Dr Rashid told the court that he believed Gill was a marketing manager with JCA, not a solictor, but he couldn’t remember that exchange with her.

It was then put to Dr Rashid, by counsel, that ‘he was in on it with Concept and needed another solicitor’. He said that at any one time he was working with between 30 and 60 solicitors.

Miss Checa-Dover then turned to the matter of the medico-legal reports. By asking a number of sequential questions she sought to establish that Dr Rashid didn’t have time to carry out all that was required for his expert report within a 10 minute time slot:

Patient’s details; Mechanism of accident; Seatbelt; Movement within vehicle at impact; Oral account of symptoms from patient; Time off work; Impact on social life; Medication; Psychological symptoms; Physical examination.

She also put to the doctor that as many as 53 patients had been block-booked on one occasion, when the appointments window was open from 12 noon until 8.10pm, and she took him to statements of two patients who said they had been ‘rushed’. 40 in a day was a more usual number, she said.

Dr Rashid told the court that all these matters had been reviewed, by experts, within a two year investigation at the General Medical Council and no issues found. He also said that he couldn’t understand why these matters were being ventilated again.

An very short audio file was played to the court of a dictaphone recording made by Dr Rashid. Miss Checa-Dover questioned him over speaking into the dictaphone whilst the patient was also talking about his injury. The doctor said that the patient had checked the post-examination report and signed it off.

The issue of whether the proof reading of his draft reports, typed up by his administration team, either took place at all or was rushed was put to Dr Rashid by counsel. One former employee had told the police, post arrest, that the doctor ‘had got sloppy’. As heard earlier, Dr Rashid told the court that the reports were proof read and that the GMC had found in their investigation that this aspect of his work was satisfactory.

Another former employee and personal friend, had made a statement saying that Dr Rashid had told her that “he would be a millionaire in 5 years”. The doctor said she had a good memory but he didn’t remember saying that.

Miss Checa-Dover then pursued the matter of a mistaken entry on Dr Rashid’s CV. She put it to him that ‘he had lied’. Again, in his answer, he said that this was a matter already considered by the GMC. He admitted that he had got it wrong. The Court heard later, in re-examination of the doctor by his counsel, Ian Pennock, that he had included membership of Expert Witness Institute (EWI) on his CV. He was, actually, a member of Expert Witness online. That entry did not appear on his CV. An application form had been filled out for EWI in 2006 but, Dr Rashid said, it, apparently, had not been posted.

Miss Checa-Dover’s cross-examination ended at 12.40. She did not appear to ask Dr Rashid one question pertaining to the events leading up to his arrest; any warrants produced by the police; whether he was cautioned; the events on the day of the arrest; his subsequent detention at at least three different police stations; or the deployment of an estimated 16 police officers at 6.15am on the morning of the arrest at his home, where he was with his wife and young children.

Mr Pennock then re-examined Dr Rashid. It emerged in evidence that after the search at the medico-legal offices ‘the police left thousands of files open and scattered all over the floor’; the phone and laptop that was seized from Dr Rashid was returned in 2014 and, when he tried to access his phone backup on the hard drive of his computer, he found the police had deleted it. This meant that all records of his text messages had been purged. The court has heard a number of times that the police have only exhibited, and questioned Dr Rashid, on text messages sent to him. His replies were not in the bundle.

Dr Rashid was then asked about appointments slots at his GP surgery (as opposed to the medico-legal examinations). He told the court that they were arranged at 10 minute intervals for face to face visits and 5 minute intervals for telephone consultations. He agreed with Mr Pennock that he would see 40 patients a day.

The judge then read witness statements, filed and served as apart of the Claimant’s case, from: Zakiyah Begum; Waseem Ahmed: Dr James McBride and Lawrence Horan.

Mr Pennock told the court that these statements are unchallenged by the Defendant, as is the witness statement of Dr Rashid which the judge said he had already read. The cross-examination of the doctor appeared to concern only matters raised in the police investigation, post-arrest.

The court will hear Final Submissions from both Claimant and Defendant on Wednesday. Thursday is a reading day for the judge. He expects to hand down judgment on Friday morning.

Key tests for determining whether the arrest of Dr Rashid was lawful are: (i) Did the arresting officer, Detective Constable Mark Lunn, reasonably suspect the doctor was guilty of the offence for which he was arrested (conspiracy to defraud); and (ii) Did DC Lunn have reasonable grounds to believe that the arrest was necessary.

Wednesday 16th September, 2019

Judge in court at 10am but, after a short discussion with counsel, he rose for 45 minutes to allow each to read a copy of the other’s submissions they are putting orally to the court today. Mr Recorder Nolan QC said that ‘the days of trial by ambush are long gone’.

Miss Ceca Dover has made her final submissions to the court on behalf of West Yorkshire Police. In summary, they set out to:

(i) Justify the arrest of Dr Rashid based on reasonable suspicion.

(ii) Justify the necessity of an arrest (as opposed to, for example, a voluntary interview).

Points (i) and (ii) are referred to as the Primary Liability issues

(iii) Provide an alternative scenario whereby if DC Lunn did not have the required suspicion of guilt, or belief in the necessity of the arrest, whether Dr Rashid would have been lawfully arrested anywayIf so, no harm was caused by the unlawful arrest meaning substantial damages will not be awarded. This was described in court as the Lumba/Parker test. [The Parker case is better known in the stage name of the former television celebrity, Michael Barrymore, who was unlawfully arrested by Essex Police in 2001. By an odd dint of circumstance, the solicitor representing Mr Parker all the way to the Court of Appeal, was Damian McIllaney, referred to a number of times elsewhere in the present proceedings]. For the legally curious, the Parker judgment can be read in full here. The Lumba case, which went all the way to the Supreme Court, and concerns the various legal tests for damages awards, can be read in full here.

Miss Checa-Dover submits that DI Taylor was present when the Claimant was arrested. He shared the reasonable suspicion in Dr Rashid’s guilt and is entitled to rely on what he has been told, including by his fellow officers, in order to form his own suspicion.

(iv) Provide a further alternative, in the event the arrest was found to be unlawful, by way of the ex turpi causa principle. That would require a finding by the judge that Dr Rashid’s conduct in preparation of medico-legal reports and/or his involvement with others, facilitating motor accident injury claims, was so culpable, negligent or reckless as to extinguish his claim. [In legal terms it engages ‘moral turpitude’.

Miss Checa-Dover submits that the duty owed by doctors conducting medico-legal work is onerous and of significant public importance. Where the motive becomes to get more reports out and make as much money as possible, to the expense of proper adherence to the duties owed, a serious risk to the proper administration of justice arises.

In reply, Mr Pennock, for Dr Rashid, said that to make such a finding the judge would have to ‘go behind’ the findings of the General Medical Council who cleared the doctor of the matters raised in Miss Checa-Dover’s submissions. He suggested that the judge ‘exercises caution’.

Mr Pennock, on behalf of Dr Rashid, completed his submissions shortly before 4pm. In some tense and, at times, intemperate exchanges between the bench and counsel the principal points advanced were:

(i) The burden of proof is on the Defendant to prove they had objectively assessed, reasonable grounds to suspect Dr Rashid of conspiring with Advanced Claims to defraud insurance companies with fraudulent claims for personal injury.

(ii) Dr Rashid had never reported in his medico-legal role on any fraudulent claim or even a suspected fraudulent claim. Requests for the police to produce any evidence of such claims had been ignored.

(iii) Detective Constable Mark Lunn was the designated Officer in the Case and, also, the arresting officer. At the time of the arrest, DC Lunn was holding himself out as a private detective to the insurance industry and he had received some, or all, of a payment of £183,000 from an insurance company, according to an email in the trial bundle from Andrew Lockwoood, a detective sergeant in Professional Standards, to DCI Paul Jeffrey.

(iv) There is no evidence of any credible investigation being carried out, by the police, into the payment of that money to DC Lunn and where it went (as opposed to a lesser investigation into DC Lunn holding himself out as a private detective). Similarly, there is no credible explanation of why an insurance company would want to give a serving police officer such [a large sum of] money when the insurance industry have set up the Insurance Fraud Bureau (frequently referred to earlier in these proceedings) working alongside the police as an open and transparent co-operation between them.

(v) In the circumstances, Mr Pennock submits that the bogus company run by DC Lunn, a company which did not actually exist in Companies House records, was, arguably, invented as a vehicle for an inducement for Lunn to arrest Dr Rashid. If the payment ‘to set up his business’ was discovered he could attempt to claim it was an ‘investment’ in his company by the insurers. [Lunn had attempted to set up the business from offices in Marsden, close to his home, but the insurance company said they wanted it to be based in Leeds, the regional economic centre].

(vi) The court, and the wider public, would expect DC Lunn to give evidence on oath to justify the arrest of Dr Rashid and explain the alleged receipt of a substantial sum of money from an insurance company, and running a substantial private investigation business, whilst a serving police officer. He could readily have been summoned to court, by the police, as their main witness. But, on the police version of events, that should not be needed, in any event, because he left the police service of his own accord without any duress being placed upon him.

(vii) Surprisingly, and very unusually, submits Mr Pennock, the Defendant is not calling DC Lunn to give evidence the court would normally expect to hear in such circumstances. There has been no explanation for his remarkable absence, other than ‘the police cannot trace him’.

(viii) In the circumstances, Mr Pennock invited the court to draw an adverse inference [against the police] from DC Lunn’s very notable absence.

(ix) The ‘reasonable grounds’ upon which the police suspected Dr Rashid of committing an offence have changed at least five times. First version is their original defence; second version their amended defence; third version within DI Taylor’s witness statement; fourth version given in his oral evidence (appointments lists kept by Advanced Claims of the appointments they made on behalf of Dr Rashid, the payment of £825 into the account of NK Consultants and the adequacy of his reports); fifth version found in the document now produced by the police, at the request of this court, to identify the reasonable grounds they rely upon, with reference to matters known pre-arrest.

(x) The court heard that it should expect the reasonable grounds for suspecting Dr Rashid in the alleged fraud conspiracy, for which he was arrested, to be recorded by the police (as was accepted by DI Taylor in his oral evidence). That would be the best evidence. The court should expect the decision to arrest Dr Rashid and the reasons for it to be recorded in;

DI Taylors day book; the Operation Thatcham policy log; the Application to the magistrates’ court for the search warrant; in the policy log set-up for Dr Rashid [as opposed to the Thatcham policy log].

The police have not disclosed any of those records.

(xi) The police obtained a Production Order for Dr Rashid’s mobile phone airtime provider to produce all call and text data from his phone, yet only disclose the police’s version of text messages, without any replies to those texts made by the doctor. After the police had Dr Rashid’s laptop and phone he can no longer access any of his mobile phone data.

(xii) Mr Pennock submits that it is hard to avoid a very strong suspicion that the police documentation has been ‘sanitised’ to remove anything harmful to them and helpful to Dr Rashid. A culture of failing to disclose evidence helpful to any opponent is corroborated by the alleged failure of officers to inform the criminal defence teams in the Operation Thatcham fraud case. The police should have known that DC Lunn’s activities would seriously compromise such a prosecution, if not lead to a stay [as an abuse of process]. A decision was taken by those same officers to keep DC Lunn’s activities secret until after the Operation Thatcham prosecutions were finalised two years later. In order words, convict the fraudsters and stay silent about Lunn.

(xiii) He further submits that the whole presentation of the police case smacks of hiding contemporaneous reasons given by DC Lunn for the arrest of Dr Rashid and the scrabbling around ex post facto for whatever justification they could find for the arrest.

At the end of Mr Pennock’s submissions there was an animated discussion between the bench and both counsel regarding undisclosed materials. The upshot is that the judge, who described it as ‘a grumble’ by Dr Rashid’d legal team, directed that such issues be dealt with overnight, by the two parties to this civil claim, and to report back to him if there was any outstanding issues following completion of that process.

Those present at the two previous hearings of this claim, heard before a different judge in December, 2018 (a case management hearing) and February, 2019 (pre-trial review), would place the repeated complaints over disclosure by Dr Rashid’s lawyers, and the numerous troubling explanations by the police, as rather higher than ‘a grumble’. A contemporaneous report of the second of those two hearings – sent to the police press office at the time – can be read here.

There is also an obvious tension in the police’s choice of disclosure officer, Detective Inspector Mark Taylor, who gave evidence as their main witness.

Similar tensions appear in the submissions of Miss Checa-Dover, presumably on instructions from the police, across the pre-trial hearings referred to above. Most notably, she claimed yesterday that it was never said, by her, to HHJ Davey QC that ‘the police could not locate Mark Lunn’. Regrettably, the transcript of that hearing will tell a different story. As does the contemporaneous report of those proceedings, to which the weblink is provided above, that has stood unchallenged by West Yorkshire Police, and Miss Checa-Dover, for over 6 months.

She also told the court, on that day, that the actions of DC Lunn ‘were at all times lawful and proportionate’ (see excerpt from that article below).

The various versions, again, presumably, on instructions from the police, of the disciplinary action taken, or, indeed, not taken against Lunn can, most charitably, be characterised as a muddle. As are the various explanations of what Operation Waffleedge is, or is not, about. A matter presently exercising the Information Commissioner. The police position, before her, is that they can neither confirm nor deny it exists.

Although Thursday 19th September, 2019 is a designated reading day, the judge said that the court would be open and he would make himself available to attempt to resolve, with counsel, any unfinalised issues over disclosure.

Disclosure failings by the police has been a very high profile news topic over the past year. From the press seats, at least, it is utterly extraordinary that disclosure is still being sought, on the ninth day of a trial, in a civil claim first intimated to the police in October, 2015.

Public confidence in both the police, and the civil justice system, is ill-served by such a debacle.

Friday 20th September, 2019

The police and Dr Rashid were told yesterday afternoon that judgment would not be handed down first thing this morning. Instead, there will be a hearing of the unresolved disclosure matters first.

This morning’s hearing was listed by the court for three hours.

Handing down of judgment commenced at 11am.

The court was told earlier this week that Olivia Checa-Dover is not in Court 7 this morning.  She is elsewhere in the building on another matter. The judge excused her, and Daniel Penman (Miss Checa-Dover’s junior throughout this final hearing) will represent the police at today’s hearing.

Detective Inspector Mark Taylor and Detective Constable Andrew Christie are in court this morning. They gave evidence earlier in the trial.

Mr Recorder Nolan QC completed the oral delivery of his judgment at 11.50. He dismissed the claim of Dr Rashid, finding that the arrest of the doctor, by Detective Constable Mark Lunn (as he was then), was based on reasonable suspicion, and as part of ‘an emerging picture’ of evidence that may have linked him to others who were running fraudulent claims management companies. He found that it was ‘a team decision’ to arrest Dr Rashid, not that of DC Lunn.

Dr Rashid was never charged with any offence. He was on bail for 15 months.

It was also found, by the judge, that if the arrest by DC Lunn had been ruled unlawful then, on the Parker principle referred to in Wednesday’s report, Dr Rashid would have been arrested anyway.

Dr Rashid is contemplating an appeal against the judgment. It appears to contains a significant number of factual errors. A full analysis will be posted over the weekend.

There are also grave concerns about the manner in which this trial has been conducted. A matter also exercising the author of this piece. At one point, when a National Union of Journalists press card was produced to the judge for inspection he said: “They give those out to anybody“.

 

Reporting restriction

The judge ruled, orally, that none of the patients examined by Dr Rashid, and named in court proceedings, can be identified in the reporting of this case. The exceptions being ‘Noddy’ (Nadeem Khalid), convicted of fraud and money laundering in 2011 and, again, for conspiracy to defraud in 2014, and ‘Frank’ (Fouad El-Habbal), convicted of perverting the course of justice in 2014.

Note

Fouad El-Habbab is also reported elsewhere by the name of ‘El Habbab Fouad’.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Page last updated at 2200hrs on Monday 7th October, 2019

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Court set to hear £5 million civil claim against police

A county court claim filed in October, 2015 by a Bradford doctor, Abdul Rashid, is, finally, set to be heard later this year. The defendant is the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police.

A second trial, to determine quantum, will follow if the claim succeeds in establishing liability against the police. The first trial is listed for hearing in Bradford County Court between 9th and 19th September, 2019.

Since July, 2018, two case management hearings and a pre-trial review have focused mainly on unresolved disclosure issues.

The court has already heard that the claim, for aggravated, exemplary and special damages, including loss of earnings, concerns events that took place over seven years ago.

Shortly after 6.15am on Wednesday 7th March, 2012, eighteen police officers attended at Dr Rashid’s home in a pre-planned operation, threatened to break down the front door, arrested him in front of his wife and three children, then searched the house before taking him to Trafalgar House police station in Bradford, a short time later.

The arresting officer was Detective Constable Mark Lunn, who features centrally in a claim that turns upon the lawfulness of this officer’s actions before, during and after the arrest of Dr Rashid. Expressed succinctly by HHJ Neil Davey QC at the second case management hearing: ‘There is only one issue: Did the arresting officer have reasonable grounds‘.

The court has also heard that the large group of WYP officers, led by DC Lunn, not only searched Dr Rashid’s home, in full view of his neighbours, but also seized computers, other electronic devices, as well as life-saving medication for the use of one of Dr Rashid’s three children, putting that child’s health and safety at risk. The police deny the latter allegation.

DC Lunn was, at the time, involved in an investigation codenamed Operation Thatcham, seeking to disrupt a large scale ‘cash for crash‘ fraud in Huddersfield, where he was based. Lunn was working under the supervision of Sergeant Mark Taylor (now an inspector in Bradford CID) and the operation was led by DCI Griffiths and later, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Jeffrey. Counsel for WYP, Olivia Checa-Dover, has told the court that Sergeant Taylor (as he was then) will give evidence in these proceedings and the police will rely on his account for the necessity of the arrest.

The Ministry of Justice and the Insurance Fraud Bureau were partners assisting the police in the investigation. It followed a similar, three year investigation that had led to conviction of two Huddersfield men at Bradford Crown Court in March, 2011 (read more here). DC Lunn had been ‘officer in the case’ and police spokesperson (unusual for a detective constable) in that investigation. Operation Thatcham began the following month.

The court has heard that a Huddersfield-based insurance claims management company, trading as Advanced Claims UK Ltd, was at the heart of the second investigation. A large number of men were convicted of fraud at Leeds Crown Court in April, 2014. Counsel for Dr Rashid, Ian Pennock, has told the court that disclosures within the course of this civil claim have revealed that the police knew before they arrested Dr Rashid that it was unrealistic to connect him to that company. That assertion is disputed by WYP.

Dr Rashid’s surgery and other premises were also raided on that same March morning in 2012. At the time, he also ran a very successful medico-legal practice, employing four people, in addition to his two general practices at Thornton and Denholme. This involved travelling the country at the request of many different firms of solicitors, providing expert medical reports upon predominantly soft tissue injuries such as ‘whiplash’. The loss of his private medico-legal practice alone is said to have cost Dr Rashid at least several hundred thousands of pounds per year.

Very shortly afterwards DC Lunn told others, including the Bradford Primary Care Trust (PCT) and the General Medical Council (GMC), that Dr Rashid was involved in a conspiracy to defraud insurance companies by assisting fraudulent ‘cash for crash’ claims. Mr Pennock asserts that such an allegation was ‘without foundation, baseless and ludicrous’.

He also told the court that ‘there was no evidence at the time, and there is still no evidence, whatsoever, to even reasonably suggest he has acted dishonestly within such an alleged conspiracy, or otherwise’.

Following his arrest, a large squad of WYP detectives carried out a protracted investigation of Dr Rashid’s private and personal life. Ranging from his early educational life at school, university and, thereafter, his early career as a doctor.

The court has heard that the investigation into the minutiae of Dr. Rashid’s life failed to reveal any criminal offences, or any other wrongdoing, by Dr. Rashid, in relation to any of the medical reports which he compiled, and submitted, on behalf of solicitors acting for insurance claimants. Mr Pennock says that this was an unsurprising conclusion given that it is widely known within the insurance, medical and legal arenas that such ‘expert’ reports are prepared, independently, by doctors, for the benefit of the courts. Not for either the underwriters or injured parties and their legal representatives.

This detailed and seriously intrusive investigation, says Mr Pennock, was motivated by the police’s increasingly urgent need to justify the wrongful arrest and detention of Dr. Rashid. The police deny such a motive and say that there were a number of identified defects in the medical reports, and Dr Rashid appeared to charge solicitors above the ‘going rate’ for the work. Both gave rise to suspicion of other wrongdoing.

At the forthcoming trial, says Mr Pennock, Dr Rashid will rely upon that same police investigation to prove that he is a man of integrity, who fully deserved the respect and standing he had in the Bradford community at large, together with his well deserved reputation amongst other doctors, solicitors, barristers and other fellow professionals, prior to the arrest. The police have told the court that Dr Rashid will be put to proof on those points.

The court has heard that the mere fact that Dr Rashid, along with other doctors, accepted instructions from solicitors of good standing to examine a claimant, and report upon the same, makes him no more involved with any alleged fraudulent claim than any other professional such as a barrister, psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor, occupational therapist,  or other such expert also instructed by those same solicitors. As such it was an insufficient basis for any reasonable grounds, or belief, to justify the arrest and detention of Dr. Rashid says Mr Pennock.

The court also heard that it has not been alleged, or even suggested, during the numerous and prolonged interviews by the police, that he was knowingly involved in any claim that was said to be fraudulent, and upon which he is said to have reported. He played no part in the Thatcham prosecutions, either as defendant or witness

In those interviews, lasting many hours, and cumulatively days, in various police stations in the Bradford, Huddersfield and Wakefield areas, the detectives only concerned themselves with matters such as Dr. Rashid’s qualifications, income, properties and background. Not one specific allegation was put to the doctor by the police. The interview transcripts, says Mr Pennock, summarise the police’s position at that time: “You are guilty of committing crimes and should own up to them, this is your last chance to tell us”. The court has heard that Dr Rashid was released from police bail in June, 2013. A file had been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, later reviewed at the police’s request, but no charges were authorised as a result.

The court has heard, on at least two occasions, that the arresting officer, Mark Lunn, appeared to claim he was also the officer in charge of the investigation against Dr Rashid and others. Ms Checa-Dover says that Lunn was not in charge and he, in fact, reported to Sergeant Taylor (as he was at the time). She went on to say that the basis for the arrest of Dr Rashid is set out in some detail in the witness statement of Inspector Taylor (as he is now).

At the time of Dr. Rashid’s arrest, and subsequently, DC Lunn purported to be a director of a company called “Insurance Fraud Consultants Ltd”, an operation which sought work from insurance companies, including a well known name in Sussex, to investigate suspected insurance fraud claims. But no such company existed in official records at Companies House.

Ms Checa-Dover told the court that WYP has not admitted that such an enterprise was in place, or that such records existed on police systems, or that they did exist and were, subsequently, deleted.

Enquiries with Companies House revealed that the purported company did not exist before the arrest of Dr Rashid. But, on the same day that DC Lunn was removed from the Operation Thatcham investigation, a company of that name was incorporated at Companies House.

The company was dissolved in 2014, and this was, Mr Pennock says, shortly before Mark Lunn started work for the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) in January, 2015. Ms Checa-Dover has told the court that WYP will not be calling Mr Lunn as a witness at the trial and that her client does not know where to locate him, in any event.

She has asserted, on instructions from WYP’s Deputy Force Solicitor, Alison Walker, that his actions were at all times lawful and proportionate. The police also deny that DC Lunn was acting as ‘a malicious, lone decision maker’.

DC Lunn did not have the authority of the chief constable to undertake this additional employment and/or have any involvement with the so-called “Insurance Fraud Consultants Ltd.” The claimant’s lawyers have sought an explanation from the police, or Mark Lunn, to refute the fact that he held himself out as being a director of IFCL, who sought work from insurance companies to investigate suspected insurance fraud claims. The court has heard the claimant’s allegation that Lunn, for his own financial gain, was allegedly acting wrongfully, in purporting to represent a company that did not exist.

The court has heard details of a specific allegation that Lunn prepared a detailed business plan, using police computers, and may have received a payment of £183,000 from an insurance company as a result. Ms Checa-Dover has told the court that searches of WYP files, systems and archives, conducted by Sergeant (now Inspector) Taylor, have not, so far, revealed the information sought by the claimants.

It has also been asserted by Mr Pennock that this unauthorised business association created a serious conflict of interest with DC Lunn’s Oath of Constable, and his obligations as an independent and impartial police officer. Particularly, when coming to assess the involvement of Dr Rashid in examining personal injury claimants, and the decision to arrest him. Mr Pennock told the court that Dr Rashid was a ‘prized scalp’ for Lunn in his attempt to establish credibility for his ‘burgeoning private enterprise’.

After complaints by Dr Rashid’s criminal defence solicitors, DC Lunn was removed, by his superiors, from the investigation into Dr. Rashid. That was in July 2012. Mr Pennock asserts that Lunn was, following those complaints, subject to a professional standards investigation, Operation Waffleedge, and no longer works for the police. He left the force in August, 2013. Ms Ceca-Dover told the court that Lunn resigned of his own volition. He was not forced to, or asked to, resign by the police, or dismissed. Any wrongdoing by the officer is denied. She added that the police admitted he was the subject of a UPP (Unsatisfactory Performance Plan), more of a human resources sanction than a disciplinary process, she explained. The police also say that Operation Waffleedge was not a covert investigation into Lunn.

The court also heard that reference had been made, in earlier disclosures by the police to Dr Rashid, to a written warning given to DC Lunn by WYP regarding misuse of police databases, and an admission that he had used WYP computers during his lunch hour to send correspondence, on his official police email account. This was alleged to be in connection with his own business interests. The police position is that their professional standards department has no record of this written warning.

HHJ Davey asked, during the pre-trial review, if the written warning was part of the materials that Ms Ceca-Dover says the police have ‘weeded out’ as part of their data management obligations. Ms Checa-Dover, after taking instructions, told the judge that would be dealt with in later disclosures and after further internal enquiries had been made by the police.

Mr Pennock also told the court that Lunn has ‘a track record of unlawful arrest allegations’, citing the reference numbers of five complaints. The relevance being, Mr Pennock added, that there was a ‘wrongful motive’ by DC Lunn to arrest Dr Rashid and that this would, in any event, negate any reasonable grounds. Mr Pennock has told the court, on several occasions, that Lunn is presented by the claimant in this case as a “bad apple” and asserts that is why he left, or was asked to leave the police force.

The police force’s Professional Standards Department say DC Lunn did not have any disciplinary findings against him and that Sergeant (now Inspector) Taylor gives an explanation in his statement, as credible evidence, as to why DC Lunn left WYP.

On 7th March 2012, the day of the arrest, Detective Constable Lunn approached and informed Dr Rashid’s ’employers’, Bradford Patient Care Trust (PCT), of the fact that he had arrested Dr Rashid, whom he said ‘was involved in a serious and substantial conspiracy to defraud’. Mr Pennock says that the wording forming that contact is important. DC Lunn did not, he says, describe Dr Rashid as a suspect and, instead, asserted guilt.

As a result of DC Lunn’s approach to the PCT, they wrote to the General Medical Council to initiate complaints against Dr. Rashid, which included his previously unpublicised arrest that day and the reasons for it, as provided by DC Lunn.

At the end of that month, the court heard, Dr Rashid’s contract as a general practitioner with the PCT was terminated and he lost his practice, built up over a number of decades, operating from two surgeries. Mr Pennock asserts that this was all as a direct consequence of the wrongful actions of the police. An allegation they strongly deny.

He went on to say that DC Lunn again circumvented police policies and procedure for deciding if, and when, to make any disclosure to professional bodies and communicated directly with the GMC. Ms Ceca-Dover denied their had been any breach of protocol by her client. Mr Pennock lifted up a bundle of papers, approximately 300mm thick, to demonstrate to the judge the welter of information given to the PCT, and the GMC, by the police. Which, he says, consisted mainly of improper disclosure of selective and prejudicial material. The police assert that all disclosures were made in good faith, lawful, proportionate, in line with force policy and bore on their responsibility to keep the public safe.

On 24thApril 2012 the GMC suspended Dr Rashid from practice for a period of 18 months, as an interim measure pending a final hearing, if any, before the Fitness to Practice Panel of the GMC. The court heard that the final hearing did not take place until October, 2016. Dr Rashid had challenged the interim suspension in the High Court in Leeds in September, 2012 and, as a result, it was quashed.

The police evidence supporting the GMC’s interim suspension was described by the judge, HHJ Mark Gosnell, as ‘sparse’. A point noted by HHJ Davey at the pre-trial review.

Mr Pennock says that even though the suspension was lifted, by this time irreparable damage had been done to Dr Rashid’s personal and professional reputation. Mr Pennock has told the court that Dr Rashid fears that his reputation may never be restored.

The GMC Panel found that Dr. Rashid’s fitness to practice was not impaired, because he was not culpable of any of the misconduct previously alleged by the police. Mr Pennock says that the allegation he was actually involved in a large scale conspiracy to defraud, involving false personal injury claims, rather than merely being a suspect, is particularly damaging.

It was, he says, also demeaning and offensive to a respected and well established medical doctor working within that particular sector of personal injury claims.

The court has also heard of an Application, made in the same Bradford County Court, for third party disclosure from WYP to identify the complainants (if any) and reasons for his arrest. This court action, instigated in August 2012, was compromised by the parties, ahead of a scheduled hearing, after West Yorkshire Police confirmed, in writing; “…not one specific allegation has been made against him by any individual outside, or within, the West Yorkshire Police”.

At the pre-trial review, there was a lengthy examination, by HHJ Davey, of the progress of disclosure requests made by the claimant, and the responses so far made by the police. The court heard that despite the protracted investigation into Dr Rashid’s private and professional life the police have only been able to conclude that, out of thousands of professional medical reports compiled by Dr. Rashid, only nine were not entirely accurate, or that his examination of them was not entirely proficient.

Mr Pennock asserts that this conclusion is drawn by the police despite those, as yet, ‘anonymous insurance claimants’ having read and approved Dr. Rashid’s report, and signing confirmation that it was accurate, and that they wished to rely on that same report in support of their claim for damages.

He further contends that the police sought to frustrate Dr. Rashid’s ability to practice as a doctor by disclosing only limited, and highly selective, details of those alleged nine complainants to the GMC as a basis for suspending, or terminating, Dr Rashid’s licence to practice. The police do not rely on evidence from any of those nine as part of their defence in this wrongful arrest claim. Their identities are known to the police.

Mr Pennock complained to the court that the police had ‘drip-fed’ disclosure to his client and previous searches for relevant materials by WYP had been ‘inadequate’. This amounted to Dr Rashid, and his lawyers, being given ‘the runaround’ by the police, he says. ‘The object of the exercise is to establish what the arresting officer knew, why was Dr Rashid arrested, and a definition of the offence over which he was arrested, beyond being told at interviews he was being detained over a cash for crash conspiracy’. The police have refused to inform the claimant whether any other doctor was arrested in connection with Operation Thatcham.

One of the main, and repeated, complaints by Mr Pennock was that the police appeared to have weeded out materials relating to the ‘cash for crash’ investigations and prosecution, when that criminal case concluded only the year before the claim form in this case was filed at court and served on West Yorkshire Police. He maintains that, in such instances, and as required by the Criminal Investigation and Procedures Act, all documents should be retained for six years after conclusion of the Advanced Claims UK Ltd trial. Ms Ceca-Dover told the court, on behalf of WYP, that all documents would have been destroyed at the end of the statutory period. Further, she said that her clients did not consider that such materials were relevant to the issues in this case (the civil claim).

HHJ Davey told the court that the submissions for the pre-trial review amounted to 621 pages – and that he had read all of them by way of preparation for this hearing. He retires in June, 2019 and will not be available to preside over the trial of a case he describes as “interesting”. It is uncontroversial to note that Neil Davey QC’s steady hand, wise words and pleasing court manner, will be missed on the circuit bench in Bradford.

Proceedings continue. A further pre-trial review is expected to be listed for hearing in July or August, 2019.

 

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Photo credit: Telegraph & Argus

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