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Further details about the appalling alleged behaviour of police officers at the largest force in the UK, have highlighted actions by some at the biggest in Wales, and television programmes concerning them. As The BBC have put it: “Police face scrutiny…”.
The alarming headlines today, come in the wake of worrying information that the Metropolitan Police (The Met) had harboured serial rapist police officer David Carrick (known as ‘bastard Dave’ to colleagues), although he had assaulted dozens of women over almost two decades. He was only finally sacked the DAY AFTER his court case, when he’d been a convicted rapist FOR HOURS! Journalists have disclosed that NINE opportunities to stop him were missed. Carrick was given 36 life sentences at Southwark Crown Court, and will spend at least the next 30 years in prison for his 17-year crime spree. He pleaded guilty to 85 serious offences including 48 rapes against 12 women.
In a television interview, one of his victims who is also a serving police officer, said: “The culture was if you reported something like that it would label you more than them. I refused to go through my career as the woman who alleges rape”. Before the case hit the news, the Commissioner of The Met, Sir Mark Rowley, admitted his force was also investigating at least 800 of 35,000 officers, over allegations of racism as well as misogyny, and that more than one in every 50 of his officers had been taken off frontline duties while they were being probed. 16 officers have been convicted.
This admission by Sir Mark came as it was revealed too that one of his officers, PC Bonnie Murphy was facing dismissal from the force after she allegedly asked for a picture of a decomposing corpse, so that she could “share it with her mother”. She received the shocking image from fellow officer Jamie Lewis, who was later jailed for posing for selfies next to two murdered sisters.
The Met was placed in ‘special measures’ after a litany of “systemic” failings like this. Tens of thousands of crimes went unrecorded as well, and there have been errors in stop and search. Apart from recent scandals, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), has emphasised a series of others – from the murder of Sarah Everard by the serving Met officer Wayne Couzens (about whom today’s headlines revolve, amid revelations they had [like Carrick] missed chances to stop him), the strip-searching of innocent children, stop and search controversies such as that of the champion athlete Bianca Williams, as well as offensive attitudes among officials shown by racist messages exchanged between officers at Charing Cross Police Station. It also noted the “seemingly incomprehensible failures to recognise and treat appropriately a series of suspicious deaths…”.
As information mounts about opportunities being missed to stop him, it has emerged that Couzens even admitted exposing himself at a McDonald’s days before Ms Everard’s abduction, rape and murder. This was one of at least FOUR incidents of indecent exposure, involving him which were reported to the police. It has been divulged that two officers are to face misconduct cases. A Met police constable will be in one formal hearing, and a Kent Police sergeant is also to be asked serious questions, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has declared.
The awful headlines strike nearer to home in Wales too. Ex-South Wales Police (SWP) Sergeant David Meller was banned from the force, after he was found to have used inappropriate language and behaviour towards female colleagues, as well as a teenage detainee in the custody suite. He swore at a 15 year old girl and used sexual references to women in front of her.
After the disciplinary hearing which followed, officialese language was used by SWP to describe what had happened: ‘Mr Meller had breached the standards of professional behaviour, namely authority, respect and courtesy, showed discreditable conduct, and failed to challenge inappropriate behaviour’. He was to be added to the ‘Barring List’, preventing him from returning to the profession.
So it is obvious that all is not well with police services, and that investigations after unsavoury evidence (alleged or otherwise) of officers’ behaviour, are (to use Sir Mark’s word) weak, as well as taking FAR too long. On average 400 days are spent resolving allegations of misconduct, and at the end, less than one per cent of officers involved in two or more cases are sacked.
For the police in Wales, reports of investigations into officers, are the last thing they need. A police watchdog is also looking into contentions of racism and misogyny in another force – Gwent Police (GP), as well as homophobia. The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) has said that the behaviour of three serving GP officers is being examined, and it would keep the involvement of other officers under review. It’s alleged that they had sent messages, first reported by the Sunday Times (ST), showing evidence of corruption within the force.
The Welsh Conservative (WC) leader in the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) Andrew RT Davies wrote to the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, asking her to intervene at GP, and has declared that he fears there is deep “rot” in the force. But condemnation has come from all sides of politics, and the Welsh Liberal Democrats (WLD) have questioned whether the Welsh Labour (WL) Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, should remain in post.
In the report by the ST headlined “The Toxic Blue Line”, it was published about GP: “There are industrial levels of abuse, racism and potential corruption”. Officers made sick, so-called, ‘jokes’. The paper said that phone records show they had ‘joked’ about sending Jimmy Savile to rescue Thai schoolboys trapped in a cave, and swapped nude pictures of a female footballer. It said there had been “exposed a toxic culture of corruption, racism (and) homophobia in Gwent police force”.
But these extraordinary disclosures put centre stage worrying incidents at GP’s neighbouring force, (SWP), too. There has been a string of miscarriage of justice cases on its watch, and a Media Conference (MC), was held last year (at which our Editor, Phil Parry, spoke) calling for a judicial inquiry to uncover the truth about what happened (which has now been refused by the UK Government). Following the MC some then marched to the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC), and Welsh Government (WG) buildings to demand action, with several senior politicians backing a Statement of Opinion to support the calls for an inquiry.
These actions underscored demands for the legal investigation into the number of miscarriages in the 1980s, ’90s, and 2000s including: The Cardiff Three (Five), The Cardiff Newsagent Three, The Darvell Brothers, Jonathan Jones (The Tooze Murders), as well as Annette Hewins.
However this shameful list does NOT have on it all those innocent people, who were convicted of less important crimes, yet who now have a record which will affect them for the rest of their lives, and there is a powerful argument for getting rid of SWP completely.
Phil emphasised the disturbing fact that areas with a greater population, have FEWER police forces. “It is ridiculous that in a population of 3.1 million people we in Wales have FOUR forces”, he told The Eye. “Scotland is much bigger, but only has ONE. London has almost nine million people yet has just TWO (including the Met). Think of the public money that is wasted duplicating resources, to pay fat salaries to all those Assistant Chief Constables, and Chief Constables!”. At the MC, Phil said to the audience that he was regularly approached by solicitors during the 1990s, who said the police were doing bad things, and that something had to be done. On one occasion he was told to put away his notebook because he was informed that no record should be made of the conversation. He also described how other forces had been put in ‘special measures’ (including The Met), but that this was the least that should be done with SWP.
The MC was organised by one of those wrongly convicted after a flawed investigation by its officers, (Mike O’Brien, of the so-called Cardiff Newsagent Three). Mr O’Brien talked movingly about how his health had been badly affected after he spent 11 years inside prison, for a crime he did not commit. He told The Eye earlier: “My health has been ruined, and there has been long-lasting damage. My miscarriage of justice case has caused a huge family rift”. Mr O’Brien, who is now in his fifties, was jailed wrongly in 1988 for the killing of Cardiff newsagent, Phillip Saunders.
Another who spoke emotionally of what had happened to him, was John Actie, one of the Cardiff Three/Five. He was accused of involvement in the murder of 20-year-old Lynette White, who was viciously killed in James Street in what is now known as Cardiff Bay. Three BLACK men had been convicted of the murder (although FIVE, including Mr Actie, were put on trial), when one WHITE man (Jeffrey Gafoor) was finally caught years later through DNA analysis. He confessed to carrying out the terrible 1988 murder, and even apologised, through his barrister, to the others who had been incorrectly jailed.
The five innocent men, were arrested in December 1988 after detectives had been on the case for 10 months, and were pursuing a suspect seen nearby (who looked EXACTLY like Mr Gafoor), minutes following the murder. But when SWP changed the investigating team, and pressure mounted to make an arrest, attention turned to locals. Despite no forensic evidence connecting the five to Ms White’s murder they were taken in.
Tony Paris, Yusef Abdullahi, and Stephen Miller were found guilty in 1990 of the murder and spent more than two years serving prison sentences having spent the same time on remand, while cousins John and Ronnie Actie were acquitted after being in custody since their arrest. False eyewitness statements, coerced confessions, and more were used in the police ‘investigation’. However on appeal in 1992 the taped interviews with Mr Miller, who had a mental age of 11, were deemed an example of inappropriate interrogation for reference in future cases, such was their intimidating and coercive nature.
Several programmes have been broadcast looking at the events in which the police played such a major part, and a number are in production now. Earlier last year, another was transmitted examining Mr O’Brien’s story in detail. The promotional material before it, proclaimed: “Episode One Monday 23rd May at 9pm Raphael Rowe delves into the brutal murder of Cardiff newsagent Phillip Saunders in 1987. The episode examines the investigation that led to the conviction of three innocent men, which resulted in their wrongful imprisonment. The episode reveals shocking police threats and coercion that led to the arrest and incarceration of Michael O’Brien, Ellis Sherwood and Darren Hall. After the men had spent more than a decade behind bars, a court appeal quashed the original verdict, but the unsolved case continues to haunt the city. Plus, for the first time ever, the victim’s sister and nephew break a 35-year silence and reveal exclusive insights into the case”.
Adding to the woes of SWP, and emphasising the revelations of alleged racism as well as the assaults (some the subject of court cases) generally, is that a former head of CID was recently jailed. A highly complex sting operation trapped one time Detective Chief Superintendent Phil Jones, which involved the bugging of cars, and deploying of decoy ‘clients’ who made out they wanted to pay for information. It climaxed in Mr Jones admitting to paying an ex-colleague to supply him with information from police databases, after he retired from SWP to run a private investigations agency in 1997.
Sky documentaries were also broadcast earlier last year, called Murder in the Valleys (MITV), looking into a FURTHER CASE – the horrific Clydach murders in 1999, when four people (Mandy Power her elderly disabled mother Doris, and two young children) were brutally beaten to death. This, too, was put centre stage by the MC, as well as by the report of police corruption, despite the fact it is not (in theory) a miscarriage of justice case, although the man convicted of them (David ‘Dai’ Morris) died still protesting his innocence. They were nominated for two awards at the BAFTA Cymru ceremony, including one for best Factual Series.
Another television programme late last year, on 5Star (which pretended to be looking into ‘cold cases’), though was VERY different. and incurred the wrath of many close to what had happened. 5Star is a free-to-air television channel owned by Paramount Networks UK & Australia and a sister to Channel 5, which specialises in documentaries.
One of the daughters of Mr Morris, Janiene Marie O’Sullivan, publicly declared to her dedicated website group: “I am finding it difficult to put into words how it made me feel….Basically it was a whole hour of Martin Lloyd-Evans (who led the investigation into the Clydach Murders) talking rubbish!…South Wales police have done themselves no favours again with this one”.
Mr Morris’s sister Debra Thomas also said on the site: “Can you believe the utter verbal diarrhoea Martin Lloyd was spouting in that cheap channel 5 program…I also know the journalist is on this group so I hope and pray she gets to read this.” And: “What disgraceful journalism!! They should hang their heads in shame”. The website Mrs Thomas helped set up, along with her niece, questions her brother’s guilt and has almost 31,000 members. On it she published a reply from Channel 5 to her complaint about the programme, but above the letter she wrote: “What research did they do????”.
The successful prosecution case against Mr Morris was that he had gone to Ms Power’s looking for sex high on drink and drugs, been spurned and beat the entire family to death, leaving his chain there in the process. Yet the evidence suggested Doris had been killed first, NOT her daughter, when presumably it would have been the person doing the spurning who would have died FIRST!
Mr O’Brien appears on MITV saying that he believes the conviction of Mr Morris IS in fact a miscarriage of justice. He told the MITV documentary-makers: “When I was released from prison I remember…saying ‘I’m going to be South Wales Police’s worst nightmare for what they did to me’, and I meant every word of it”.
In a formal interview for MITV (they wouldn’t do one with Phil), Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) of SWP, David Thorne, made a startling admission, about the mistakes that were made by the police in the earlier miscarriages of justice. During filming for the programme Mr Thorne appeared on, a forensic review found traces of DNA on a sock which it is believed was used to hold the murder weapon, that were “more likely than not” to have come from Mr Morris, and SWP trumpeted the finding. They effectively said: ‘We know we got it wrong in the past, but this time is different. Trust us’.
Yet a long-running campaign has been launched to establish his innocence, and after the first trial when Mr Morris was convicted, his sister Debra gave a tearful press conference with her parents when she stressed her belief that he was NOT guilty. She said: “He just didn’t do these things…they’ve got the wrong man”.
ACC Thorne, though, insisted on MITV, that Mr Morris was the RIGHT man, but acknowledged that mistakes had been made in previous police inquiries. He proclaimed: “It’s safe to say we got it wrong (in the past). We absolutely got it wrong. (There were) HUGE errors in the way investigations were conducted (but) we HAVEN’T found that in this case. This is not a miscarriage of justice”.
However Phil had made a BBC Panorama television programme about the shocking Clydach Murders a few years after they had been committed, and he was the first to question the police actions during THIS investigation too. As he said in the opening of the programme: “One police force in Britain has a disturbing record of locking up the wrong people in murder cases”.
During MITV, the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) at the time, Detective Superintendent (DS) (Retd.) of South Wales Police (SWP) Martyn Lloyd Evans, is questioned about the apparent mistake of not releasing to the public a witnesses E-Fit constructed soon after the murders, which, it said, had a 90 per cent likeness. He replies that because the man seen was carrying a bag, and it was believed the killer did not have one, it was not put out.
Mr Evans said: “I didn’t think it was relevant”, but the E-Fit matched almost exactly the face of the first senior police officer on the scene, Inspector (at the time) Stuart Lewis, who (against all procedure) had only stayed there a matter of minutes, or that of his identical twin brother (another police officer, Sergeant [also at the time] Stephen Lewis, whose wife was having a gay affair with one of the victims). Inspector Stuart Lewis, had changed his shift to be on that night, however at crucial hours during the murders his whereabouts were unknown. He was driving a red Peugeot diesel, and a car similar to this was spotted near the murder scene. So to say the E-Fit was ‘not relevant’, appeared bizarre in the extreme, to critics of the police.
In the MITV films Mr Evans’ boss as the then head of SWP CID, Wynne Phillips, also said something incredible: “We can’t manufacture evidence”. But events before the murders, showed that SWP have done EXACTLY that in the past.
To take just one of those cases (in which Phil was intimately involved, because he had made ANOTHER programme questioning THAT conviction [The Cardiff Newsagent Three]), the police MANUFACTURED (as Mr Phillips said they DIDN’T do) an overheard ‘confession’ between the young men they had arrested, when an admission was effectively made to the murder of the newsagent, and they presented before the court ‘EVIDENCE’ that the group had run from the scene, but one of the three had bad legs and couldn’t run at all.
Now there is more evidence about the terrible alleged behaviour of the police, which has AGAIN focused attention on the actions of some at the largest force in Wales, as well as television programmes about them…
Details of stories like these, after 23 years with The BBC, and 39 years in journalism, by our Editor Phil Parry as he was gripped by the rare neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.