Thursday, 20 February 2014

FUQQ.EU - Chief Inspector Jeremy Reakes-Williams: Why was the Reakes-Williams investigation into SuttonColdfieldgate so inadequate?

On 12th October 2012 officials from three Police Federation Branches met with Andrew Mitchell MP in Sutton Coldfield following events at Downing Street on 19th September 2012, "Plebgate".

Over time the matter became subject to investigation by West Mercia Police Professional Standards Department on behalf of Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands Police.

Following an intervention in October 2013 by Deborah Glass, then Deputy Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Reakes-Williams investigation became the subject of public disclosure and  discussion.

Below I attach my analysis of the Reakes-Williams investigation.

As you will see there are good reasons to consider the Reakes-Williams investigation as being grossly inadequate.

The following critique was sent on 13th November 2013 to the following:

Chief Constable David Shaw, West Mercia Police
Chief Constable Andy Parker, Warwickshire Police
Chief Constable Chris Sims, West Midlands Police
and the three corresponding Police and Crime Commissioners.

A copy was also sent to Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

See what you think.

After reading my critique do you accept Deborah Glass's assertion to the public and to the Home Affairs Select Committee that the Reakes-Williams investigation was satisfactory?



Critique of Reakes-Williams Investigation and related matters
by
Dr. Andrew Watt 2013-11-13

This document provides a summary of causes for concern regarding the competence and compliance with the applicable Law of the Reakes-Williams investigation into the conduct of Inspector Ken Mackaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones.

It seems to me that there are multiple material failures in the Reakes-Williams investigation, contrary to the information that the IPCC, in the person of Deborah Glass, has given to the Home Affairs Select Committee and the public.

The information available to me as a member of the public is incomplete therefore the list of identified “failures” is provisional and may require to be amended in the light of further information.

Given that I am compiling this critique on the basis of incomplete information the allocation of perceived failings to the Police or the IPCC may also require revision in the light of fuller information, as and when that may become available.

Failure to include possible conspiracy in the Terms of Reference

The January 2013 Terms of Reference related solely to Inspector Ken Mackaill.

After the referral of Detective Sergeant Hinton and Sergeant Jones the Terms of Reference for the latter two officers were, it seems, directed solely at the actions of each individual only.

Two of the three Terms of Reference are in the public domain. Neither refers to the possibility of conspiracy.

The three officers travelled together to the meeting with Andrew Mitchell, attended the meeting together and all gave statements of various types to the media.

I find it extraordinary that neither the Police nor the IPCC seemingly asked the obvious question of whether or not the three officers acted together or, in effect,  conspired together.

The IPCC Statutory Guidance allows for conspiracy to be considered, but if it is to be considered it must be explicitly expressed in the Terms of Reference.

That was not done and seems to me to be a glaring error by the Police and the IPCC.

The IPCC should have amended the Terms of Reference to include the possibility of conspiracy. The Appropriate Authorities should, in my view, have identified that failure when considering Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams report.

Failure to keep the Terms of Reference under review

In later paragraphs I identify issues which ought to have led to review of the Terms of Reference of the investigation, in light of evidence elicited.

I can find no evidence that the Terms of Reference were adequately kept under review. Nor, in fact, any evidence that the Terms of Reference were kept under review at all.

The unlinking of the Plebgate and SuttonColdfieldGate investigations

The text of the referral to the IPCC of 24th December 2012 regarding Inspector Ken Mackaill has not publicly been disclosed.

Deborah Glass has stated, however, that the investigations into Plebgate and SuttonColdfieldGate (my terms) were “linked” initially (oral evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee).

Subsequently, someone unidentified (but most likely Deborah Glass) unlinked the Plebgate and SuttonColdfieldGate inquiries.

I can identify no sound basis for the two inquiries to have been unlinked.

Unlinking the inquiries seems to me to have had seriously damaging effects on the investigation into the conduct of Inspector Mackaill, Detective Sergeant Hinton and Sergeant Jones.

It casts the potential significance of the actions of Sergeant Ian Edwards (referred to later in this document) into an uninvestigated void.

It potentially conceals a possible conspiracy between Metropolitan Police Service officers and Midlands officers, beginning no later than 21st September 2012.

The failure to interview Sergeant Ian Edwards

Sergeant Ian Edwards of the West Midlands Police Federation was instrumental in setting up the meeting held on 12th October 2012.

Bizarrely, he was not interviewed. Nor was he made subject of a disciplinary investigation.

The possible significance of Sergeant Edwards’ calls of 21st September 2012 for Mr. Mitchell to resign was neither recognised nor investigated.

Nor, so far as I can ascertain, were Sergeant Edwards communications with the three officers obtained or examined, arguably contrary to the requirement on the Appropriate Authorities expressed in Paragraph 12 of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002.

The possibility exists that on or before 21st September 2012 Sergeant Edwards conspired with one or more Metropolitan Police officers, possibly one or more Metropolitan Police Federation officials, to smear Mr. Mitchell.

The possibility exists that Sergeant Edwards was an active participant in “setting up” Andrew Mitchell at the meeting held on 12th October 2012.

He is quoted, on ITV.com, as stating “Andrew Mitchell has no option but to resign. We hold the view that that his position is untenable. If he does not resign, then Mr Cameron has no choice but to sack him.”.

Sergeant Edwards’ actions required, in my view, to be thoroughly investigated both with respect to his statements on 21st September 2012 and in relation to the meeting of 12th October 2012.

Communications with the three officers and with the Metropolitan Police in the period 18th September 2012 to 12th October 2012 should be obtained under the duty in Paragraph 12 of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002.

The failure to interview Jon Gaunt

The Reakes-Williams investigation, so far as I can ascertain, failed to interview Jon Gaunt.

Thus, so far as I can establish, Mr. Gaunt was not asked which media organisations he spoke to nor what he had led those media organisations to expect to happen after the meeting with Mr. Mitchell on 12th October 2012.

In other words, conveniently for the three officers, the question of what Jon Gaunt told media organisations to expect was never, so far as I can ascertain, adequately investigated.

The failure to identify the relevance of Julie Albray

On 11th October 2012 the Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands Police Federations issued a Press Release about the planned meeting with Andrew Mitchell on 12th October.

Julie Albray was named as the media contact.

The Reakes-Williams investigation, so far as I can find, wholly failed to identify Julie Albray (possibly also known as Julie Horwood) as a potential participant in the events.

Julie Albray was, it seems, the media contact for the meeting. She should have been interviewed to ascertain what she had done and to what extent any relevant actions may have been on the instructions of the three officers, of Sergeant Ian Edwards or other Police Federation officials.

The possibility exists that colleagues of Julie Albray in XPR(UK)Ltd may also have played a part. That possibility was not investigated, so far as I can identify.

The failure to secure and/or consider potentially relevant documents etc

Paragraph 12 of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 imposes on the Appropriate Authorities a duty to obtain and preserve evidence.

One important document that, so it seems, the Reakes-Williams investigation failed to identify is the Press Release of 11th October 2012 jointly by the Warwickshire Police Federation, West Mercia Police Federation and the West Midlands Police Federation.

Further, so far as I can ascertain, no steps were taken to obtain or preserve emails, other documents or phone records of the three officers nor of Sergeant Ian Edwards, Jon Gaunt or Julie Allbray.

Nor, so far as I can ascertain, were any steps taken to obtain and preserve emails etc with regard to Sergeant Jones’s statement to Mr. Mitchell, “The Met doesn’t want a misconduct hearing.”. That failure, it seems to me, leaves open the possibility that Sergeant Jones (and possibly others) acted jointly with individuals in the Metropolitan Police to supress any investigation of possible Police corruption surrounding the original incident in Downing Street on 19th September 2012.

The latter seems to me potentially to be a hugely important failure of investigation.

Failure to consider Inspector Mackaill Daily Politics interview

Inspector Mackaill, around lunchtime on 12th October 2012, gave an interview to the BBC’s Daily Politics programme.

See
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19925933
for a recording of the Daily Politics interview.

The Reakes-Williams investigation, so far as I can establish, failed to identify the existence and/or potential significance of that interview.

Inspector Mackaill ostensibly wished to clear up an integrity issue. Yet he asks not a single question of Andrew Mitchell at the meeting later that day nor, after the meeting with Andrew Mitchell, does he report to the Professional Standards Department of the Metropolitan Police Service that one or more Police officers may be corrupt.

Inspector Mackaill should have been interviewed under caution regarding this Daily Politics interview and the Press Release of 11th October 2012.

My interpretation of this unexamined evidence is that Inspector Mackaill set out to destabilise a Government Minister for political ends.

Failure to consider the “expect fireworks” media briefing

An unidentified person told the media to “expect fireworks” after the meeting that the three officers held with Andrew Mitchell.

See
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu42PUUjcfQ&list=PLXjqQf1xYLQ5mIhp84pR4D4M_3RLf_Eod
for the relevant comment, probably made by Michael Crick of Channel 4. The “expect fireworks” statement is at 1:40 in the recording.

The Reakes-Williams investigation could not be aware of the 16th October 2013 recording but it was, I believe, aware that the media had been led to expect something resembling fireworks.

The investigation failed to interview Sergeant Ian Edwards, Jon Gaunt and Julie Allbray as to whom they had spoken to and specifically ask what they had said to each media person contacted.

The investigation also failed, so far as I can ascertain, to obtain and examine documents such as emails among the three officers and between any of them and Ian Edwards, Jon Gaunt and Julie Albray. It seems to me that these are serious failures of investigation.

Failure to recognise the “Catch 22” for Andrew Mitchell

One of the most serious failings of the Reakes-Williams investigation, in my view, was the failure to recognise that Andrew Mitchell was, in effect, “set up” by Inspector Mackaill, Detective Sergeant Hinton and Sergeant Jones.

At the meeting, it seems to me that Andrew Mitchell had only three options:

  1. To stick to his story
  2. To refuse to tell the three officers what he had said
  3. To admit he had been lying about his alleged use of the words “plebs” and “morons”

Whichever way forward Mr. Mitchell might choose he was “toast”.

In one formulation Inspector Mackaill states, “As it currently stands, there is an implication that the officers’ accounts are not accurate. If Mr Mitchell is standing by that story then we have no alternative but to call for him to resign.”

In another formulation Inspector Mackaill states, “I think Mr. MITCHELL now has no option but to resign, he’s continuing to refuse to elaborate on what happened,”

The unspoken third option was in the event that Mr. Mitchell admitted he had been lying initially. If he admitted to having lied then, inevitably, he would have to resign.

Whatever Mr. Mitchell said (or didn’t say) Inspector Mackaill was going to call for Mr. Mitchell’s resignation.

Mr. Mitchell was set up. There was no answer he could give that could avoid Inspector Mackaill calling for his resignation.

Inspector Mackaill should be asked what answer Mr. Mitchell could have given to avoid him calling for Mr. Mitchell’s resignation.

Failure to consider possible misconduct in public office

So far as I can ascertain the Reakes-Williams investigation failed to consider whether or not the conduct of the three officers might constitute the criminal offence of Misconduct in Public Office.

That seeming failure seems to me to be a very serious omission.

Failure to consider possible perverting the course of justice

The comments made by two officers during the meeting with Andrew Mitchell show that they were clear that, if Andrew Mitchell was telling the truth, then one or more Metropolitan Police officers had lied and falsified an official document.

Further, those two officers recognised an obligation to report such possible/suspected Police dishonesty.

Inspector Mackaill heard all the discussion about those matters, it would appear.

Further, Inspector Mackaill, in his interview with Daily Politics clearly was aware of the issue of potential Police corruption.

None of the three officers formally reported suspected Police corruption as, according to their own comments, they had a duty to do.

It seems to be of the utmost seriousness, arguably amounting to perverting the course of justice, for Police officers to conceal suspected corruption by other officers.

It seems to me that the failure of the Reakes-Williams investigation to include this in the Terms of Reference and to appropriately investigate possible perversion of the course of justice (or alternatively “serious corruption” in the meaning of the IPCC Statutory Guidance) is a very serious failing indeed.

Further, the Reakes-Williams investigation, so far as I can ascertain, totally failed to establish exactly why the three officers failed to report possible Police corruption to the Professional Standards Department of the Metropolitan Police Service.

“Regulation 15” Notices

The documentation provided to the Home Affairs Select Committee refers on several occasions to “Regulation 15” notices.

So far as I’m aware there is, in the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012, no such concept.

It is unclear whether the problem is simply a typo in the Smith/Reakes-Williams report which is picked up by more senior officers or is such as possibly to render void the notices under which Inspector Mackaill, Detective Sergeant Hinton and Sergeant Jones were interviewed.

If the latter is the case then use of any information obtained from the three officers may not be admissable in any future misconduct or criminal proceedings.

Conclusions

  1. There are multiple, material failures in the Reakes-Williams investigation.
  2. The effect of those failures is to render the investigation demonstrably inadequate.
  3. Responsibility for those failures seems to me to rest variously with the Police (in the persons of Temporary Detective Inspector Smith, Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams and the Appropriate Authorities) and with the IPCC (in the persons of Deborah Glass and Mr. Bimson).
  4. Deborah Glass and others gave a false impression to the Home Affairs Select Committee regarding the adequacy of the Reakes-Williams investigation.
  5. The failures in the Reakes-Williams investigation leave open the possibility of a longer-lasting and more widely scoped Police conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, possibly involving collusion between officials of the West Midlands and Metropolitan Police Federations no later than 21st September 2012 and possibly involving the Professional Standards Department of the Metropolitan Police Service both before and after the meeting of 12th October 2012.

It seems to me that both the Police and IPCC bear responsibility for aspects of the failures listed.

Without disclosure of further detail of the process the allocation of culpability must remain provisional.

Dr Andrew Watt
2013-11-13

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