For information on some aspects of the matters which concern me see below the text of a letter sent on 28th October 2013 to the Chief Constables of Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands.
The matters raised are, as I understand the Law, subject to mandatory recording and referral to the IPCC.
Chief Constable Shaw of West Mercia Police and Chief Constable Parker of Warwickshire complied with the Law and referred the letter to the IPCC with respect to the West Mercia and Warwickshire officers mentioned in the letter.
However, West Midlands Police refused to record conduct matters with respect to Sergeant Chris Jones and Sergeant Ian Edwards.
I believe that the failures of West Midlands Police are contrary to the Law and, consequently, I have written to Sarah Green, Deputy Chair of the IPCC with territorial responsibility for West Midlands Police asking that she use powers conferred by Paragraph 11(5) of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 to require West Midlands Police to record the "conduct matters" with respect to Sergeant Chris Jones and Sergeant Ian Edwards, respectively Secretary and Chair of the West Midlands Police Federation.
A reply from Ms. Green is awaited.
Here is the text of my letter of 28th October 2013 to the three Chief Constables:
As you can see the letter was copied to Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee and Deborah Glass of the IPCC.
28th October 2013
Chief Constable David Shaw, West Mercia PoliceChief Constable Andy Parker, Warwickshire PoliceChief Constable Chris Sims, West Midlands PoliceDear Chief Constables,Plebgate: Multiple possible recordable conduct issues and possible criminal offencesI write to you following the Home Affairs Select Committee meeting held on 23rd October 2013.It seems to me that the evidence disclosed there and elsewhere raises the question of multiple “recordable conduct issues” which seem to me to satisfy the definition of “serious corruption” as specified in the IPCC Guidance or “misconduct in public office” or both and which have either not been investigated or have been inadequately investigated by your respective forces.The issues of concern cross the boundaries of your respective three Police forces. Given that background and the potential seriousness of these possible recordable conduct matters, if proved, I suggest you carefully consider whether these are matters which are required by Law to be referred without delay by each of you to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.As you will appreciate the issues are complex and public understanding of the issues is hampered by seeming continuing concealment from the public of some relevant documents.The issues of concern to me will be briefly summarised in this letter under the following headings:
- Possible misconduct in public office
- Possible assistance of an indictable offence
- Possible perversion of the course of justice
- Possible conspiracy to pervert the course of justice
- Inadequacies of the Smith/Wreakes-Williams investigation
- Did the “three officers” lie to the investigation?
- The October 2012 investigation
- The actions of the “Appropriate Authorities”Possible misconduct in public officeI ask that possible misconduct in public office by Inspector Mackaill, Detective Sergeant Hinton, Sergeant Jones and Sergeant Ian Edwards be investigated, specifically that one or more of those named individuals acted individually or jointly so as illegitimately and unlawfully to jeopardise the position of a member of the UK Government, specifically Mr. Andrew Mitchell MP.Elsewhere in this letter I refer to the first three Police officers named in the preceding paragraph as “the three officers”.The Report of Temporary Inspector Smith and Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams states specifically that the issue of whether or not it was “appropriate” to seek the resignation of a member of Government was not considered. I believe it should have been. Given that statement this is, so it seems to me, an issue that has not been previously investigated.Alternatively or additionally I ask that you investigate whether one or more of the named individuals, possibly together with others, conspired to commit misconduct in public office.I suggest there is evidence suggesting that the actions of Simon Payne might also require to be formally investigated, given his stated position of keeping the Police Federation campaign personal.Possible assistance of an indictable offenceI understand misconduct in public office to be an indictable offence.I further understand there to exist an offence of assisting in the commision of an indictable offence.If it is the case that the three officers and/or others may have committed the offence of misconduct in public office those who assisted them in doing so may also have committed a criminal offence.I ask you to investigate the conduct of the staff of Gaunt Brothers and, if appropriate, others, with respect to whether or not their actions constitute a criminal offence.Possible perversion of the course of justice or “serious corruption”During the meeting with Mr. Mitchell in October 2012 the point was made repeatedly that if Mr. Mitchell’s evidence was true then the Metropolitan“Police log” had been falsified.In that context of a seeming duty to report possible corruption by one or more Police officers one would expect the three officers to have taken steps to ensure that the possible Police corruption was reported and thoroughly investigated.It seems from the evidence given to the Home Affairs Select Committee that none of the three officers reported the matter formally.The predictable effect of the seeming decision by the three officers is that possible Police corruption (in the Metropolitan Police) was concealed. (The officers could not know in October 2012 of the impact of the CCTV evidence many weeks later.)It seems that the three officers decided not to report the matter.It seems to me that with respect to the seeming decision not to report possible Police corruption the three officers may have perverted the course of justice (by concealing possible Police corruption in the Metropolitan Police), or have committed misconduct in public office and/or be guilty of “serious corruption” as defined in the IPCC Guidance.Possible conspiracy to pervert the course of justiceIt is likely from the transcript of the meeting between the three officers and Andrew Mitchell that the officers had been in contact with Metropolitan Police officers. The extent of such contact remains unclear. Sergeant Jones states, “They don’t wish to have a misconduct hearing in the Met.”.The three officers, so far as I interpreted the evidence at the Home Affairs Select Committee, took a decision not to report potential Police corruption.I interpreted one answer when listening to the broadcast as indicating that this decision not to report emanated from some further contact with the Metropolitan Police. If such contact took place with the Metropolitan Police and in effect the three officers were told or induced to kick into touch the issue of possible Police corruption in the Met this seems to me to raise further serious questions about the conduct of the three officers and any such Metropolitan Police officers they contacted, specifically the possibility exists that the three officers may have conspired with officers of the Metropolitan Police Service, most likely members of the Professional Standards function, to conceal possible corrupt behaviour by one or more members of the Metropolitan Police Service.It seems to me that this potentially immensely serious matter requires thorough, independent formal investigation.Inadequacies of the Smith/Reakes-Williams investigationI will use the term “Smith/Reakes-Williams investigation” to refer to the investigation originating in December 2012. It seems to me that there are several evident deficiencies in that investigation which call into question the competence and/or integrity of that investigation.When the IPCC decided that the investigation be “supervised” had they been informed of the existence of the October 2012 investigation to which I refer later in this letter? Were they given full access to the documentation of the October 2012 investigation prior to coming to a decision on the scope of the Smith/Reakes-Williams investigation?Who decided that a Temporary Inspector be tasked with, so it seems, carrying out the misconduct interviews in such an important matter? Was a temporarily promoted officer chosen as being least likely to “rock the boat”?Is it correct that both Temporary Detective Inspector Smith and Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams are members of the Police Federation?It seems to me that there is the appearance that the investigation of Temporary Detective Inspector Smith may have been biased. I note his use of terminology for example that terms such as “confirmed”are used, so far as I can identify, with respect to the evidence of the three officers but not to that of Mr. Mitchell. If the investigation was unbiased one might have expected neutral terms such as “stated” for the summary accounts of both Mr. Mitchell and the three officers. TDI Smith also accepts as fact what the three officers claim to have been their understanding.It further seems to me, from the fragmentary evidence presently in the public domain that TDI Smith may have given the three officers an “easy ride” in the misconduct interviews.So far as I can identify TDI Smith has identified no relevant words of Mr. Mitchell that would have changed the interpretation of what he said on 19th September 2012. His analysis on that and other grounds seems to me to be biased in favour of the three officers.TDI Smith states that Mr. Mitchell was asked once to explain “exactly what he did say”. I cannot identify any point in the transcript of the meeting where Mr. Mitchell was asked to explain “exactly what [he] did say”.I have concerns about how narrowly the terms of reference were drawn and, in the light of emerging evidence, that they were not appropriately reviewed and/or amended. Why, for example, were the questions of misconduct in public office and/or perverstion of the course of justice neither identified nor investigated?I note that Sergeant Ian Edwards of West Midlands Police Federation stated that he had informed the media of the date and time of the meeting between the three officers and Mr. Mitchell. We are asked to believe that none of the three officers (Police Federation colleagues of Sergeant Edwards) was aware of that. So far as I read the various versions of the reports the directly relevant questions were not asked by TDI Smith.Why, given his written statement, was the conduct of Sergeant Ian Edwards not formally investigated?Did TDI Smith draw to the attention of the Appropriate Authority the potential relevance of the actions of Sergeant Edwards disclosed in his written statement and, for example, in the West Midlands Police Federation Press Release of 11th October 2012? Was consideration given to a formal investigation for possible misconduct? If not, why not?Why was Sergeant Edwards not interviewed (possibly under caution)? Why was Sergeant Edwards not asked which media organisations he informed of the date, time and place of the meeting with Mr. Mitchell? Why was Sergeant Edwards not asked what he had led the media to expect to happen at that meeting?Did TDI Smith obtain and preserve any email or other written communications between the three officers and Sergeant Edwards (and possibly Simon Payne)? If not, why not?Did TDI Smith obtain and preserve any email or written communications with Jon Gaunt by any of the three officers or Sergeant Edwards? If not, why not?Elsewhere in this letter I draw attention to the facts indicating that, in my view, the criminal offences of “misconduct in public office” and “perverting the course of justice” may have been committed by one or more of the three officers. It seems to me that the seeming failure of the Smith-Reakes-Williams investigation to identify such matters gives cause for serious concern as to its effectiveness. Given the seeming inadequacy of the investigation the question of the integrity of that investigation also arises in my mind.In that regard I am aware that I hold a view different from that of Deborah Glass who, I understand, views the Smith-Reakes-Williams investigation as satisfactory.How did it come about that the IPCC opinion in July 2013 that there was a case to answer regarding gross misconduct was, in effect, kicked into touch? Who decided that? On what grounds?I note that version “C” of the report is signed by Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams but the Recommendations that are ostensibly his are not those he stated to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 23rd October 2013. The “final” report, in this respect, it seems to me, is essentially fraudulent. The manner in which Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams was induced to sign a formal document which provided a false account of his Recommendations, or otherwise came to do so, requires to be investigated in my view.Did the “three officers” lie to the investigation?I ask that the question of whether or not the “three officers” lied to the Smith/Reakes-Williams investigation be formally investigated.The officers, for example, indicated to the Temporary Detective Inspector Smith that they didn’t know how the media knew of the meeting with Mr. Andrew Mitchell.However, the West Midlands’ Police Federation Press Release of 11th October 2012 quotes Inspector Mackaill and states that DS Hinton and PS Jones will attend the meeting. Are we seriously asked to believe that the three officers were ignorant of this and related matters?The October 2012 investigationIn the documentation disclosed by West Mercia Police to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 22nd October 2013 brief mention is made of an investigation conducted in response to concerns expressed in October 2012 by a Mr. Plume.Little is revealed to the public or, it seems, to the Committee. Appendix C to the Smith/Wreakes-Williams investigation is not disclosed to the public and I assume it was not disclosed to the Home Affairs Select Committee.It is evident that Mr. Plume identified multiple concerns regarding the conduct of Inspector Mackaill. Were each of these properly investigated? Or were they, conveniently, kicked into touch?I note that Temporary Detective Inspector Smith considered the October 2012 investigation “proportionate”. I wonder, given the seeming deficiencies of his own investigation, if that term is a synonym for cursory.In the brief information publicly disclosed it seems that Inspector Mackaill may have lied to the investigator. Inspector Mackaill claims that Mr. Mitchell refused to clarify what he had said. I am unaware in the transcript published by the IPCC of any refusal by Mr. Mitchell to do so.I ask that Chief Constable Shaw gives careful consideration whether it is appropriate to refer the October 2012 investigation to the IPCC for further rigorous investigation.I also ask Chief Constable Shaw to give careful consideration as to whether Inspector Mackaill lied to the investigator in the October 2012 investigation and what action ought appropriately to be taken.The actions of the Appropriate AuthoritiesIn this section I do not attempt to distinguish between the three Chief Constables as Appropriate Authorities and other officers acting with delegated authority.Chief Constable Shaw clearly saw the toxic potential of this matter when making the December 2012 referral to the IPCC. Thereafter it seems to me that the Appropriate Authorities acted at various times in such manner or failed to act with the effect of amplifying the toxic potential.I understand the Law to oblige the Appropriate Authorities to preserve all relevant documentation. Did the Appropriate Authorities take steps to preserve documents including emails among the three officers and, following the emergence of the possibly relevant roles of Sergeant Ian Edwards, Simon Payne and Jon Gaunt, emails between those individuals and with the three officers? If not, why not?Did the Appropriate Authorities monitor the investigation? Were they aware of the actions of Sergeant Edwards? What assessment did they make of the potential significance of them?Did the Appropriate Authorities consider the possibility of Misconduct in Public Office? If not, why not?Did the Appropriate Authorities consider the potential significance of the decision of the three officers not to report possible corruption in the Metropolitan Police? If not, why not? What assessment, if any, was made of the possibility that this might constitute perverting the course of justice?It seems to me that a competent, honest investigation of the conduct of the three officers would have considered whether they perverted the course of justice by, so it seems, deciding not to report possible Police corruption in the Metropolitan Police Service. So far as I can establish none of TDI Smith, CI Reakes-Williams, DCC Chesterman, DCC Brunton or ACC Cann (and possibly others) identified this as a potentially significant issue. I find this inexplicable if they were competent Police officers acting honestlyDid the Appropriate Authorities act such as to sweep things under the carpet? It seems to me that there is at least an arguable case for suggesting that.It further seems to me that the recent informal reviews conducted by the each of the three Police forces was contrary to what is required by Law.The allegation in the media was that senior officers, in effect, supressed evidence of misconduct and/or gross misconduct. In my understanding of the Law an allegation of that nature is a mandatory referral to the IPCC. So far as I can gather it was not referred to the IPCC.I ask each of the three Chief Constables to consider whether his own actions (and/or failures to act) as an Appropriate Authority or those acting on his behalf require, by Law, to be referred promptly to the IPCC for investigation.In the normal course of events the actions of the Chief Constables might appropriately be raised with their respective Police and Crime Commissioners. Given the public statements of the latter I see no sound basis for considering the Police and Crime Commissioners to be sufficiently independent of the Chief Constables in this matter to give reassurance of independence.Actions requested of the three Chief ConstablesIn the first instance I would appreciate from each of the three Chief Constables acknowledgment of receipt of this letter.Given the circumstances I can see that you may wish to, or may be required to, act jointly or individually on particular components of the matters I raise. In any event, I ask each of you carefully to consider whether he has a duty in Law promptly to refer one or more of these areas of concern to the IPCC.With respect to any of the matters raised which are referred to the IPCC I request that I be kept infomed as provided for by Subsection 21(3) of the Police Reform Act 2002. I give my consent as specified in Subsection 21(3)(b) of the Act. Should any of the Appropriate Authorities decide to investigate on its own part I ask similarly to be kept informed and consent to the same.I ask you as a matter of urgency to consider whether you have a duty in Law to seize (or otherwise obtain) and preserve all email and/or written communications among any of the three officers, Sergeant Edwards, Simon Payne and Jon Gaunt. I will likely delay public release of this letter to give you opportunity to seize and preserve any such communications. Of course any failure to preserve documents earlier is also a matter of concern.I understand, given the seriousness of my concerns, that the Law imposes a short time limit for you to decide how to proceed regarding these matters and, implicitly, inform me of how you propose to proceed.I am copying this letter to Keith Vaz MP and Deborah Glass.Yours sincerely(Dr) Andrew WattccKeith Vaz MPDeborah Glass, IPCC
Deborah Glass's failure to act correctly was one factor that led me to making a formal complaint about her conduct: FUQQ.EU Deborah Glass - Is Deborah Glass a fit person to be an IPCC Commissioner?
My critique of the Reakes-Williams investigation into SuttonColdfieldgate is here:
FUQQ.EU - Chief Inspector Jeremy Reakes-Williams: Why was the Reakes-Williams investigation into SuttonColdfieldgate so inadequate?