Best form of defence is attack…

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Alun Michael has been accused of being too close to the police

The controversial public monitor of South Wales Police (SWP) who is paid over £86,000 in taxpayers’ money, has defended contentious comments which proved inaccurate after riots in Cardiff, highlighting as it does high-profile errors by the same force, it has been revealed.

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Alun Michael declared that the remarks were made, “to the best of my knowledge”, and grabbed the headlines by telling MPs on the Welsh Affairs Committee: “I am satisfied that what I did was done appropriately at the time and with integrity”.

The Cardiff riot and one of the boys who died – Alun Michael’s statement was contradicted

Following a riot in the Ely area of Cardiff, he had said that rumours the deaths of two youngsters which provoked it had come after a police chase, were ‘not true’. However footage later emerged which appeared to contradict this statement. It showed a police van on a road shortly after two teenagers, who later died, had come through frame, riding on an e-bike, and SWP later confirmed that police had indeed been following the youths. 15 year old Harvey Evans, and Kyrees Sullivan, who was just 16, were killed before the violence on May 22, in which several police officers were injured and 27 people were arrested.

Violence erupted in Ely, and Alun Michael said it wasn’t true that the boys who died were being followed by police

But these deaths, the violence, arrests, and the present defence by Mr Michael of comments which proved incorrect, put centre stage huge errors by the SAME force, which has been responsible for a string of miscarriages of justice. The wrongful imprisonments include: 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 than murder, yet who now have a record which will affect them for the rest of their lives. There is a powerful argument today for getting rid of SWP COMPLETELY, amid mounting concern that a country of only 3.1 million people has FOUR police forces, and that Mr Michael is one of FOUR PCCs!

A large number of officers are being investigated

Public confidence in the police is now at an all time low (see story soon), and it has been disclosed that a HUGE number of police officers in SWP’s sister force, the Metropolitan Police (Met) are under investigation. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has said five serving Met officers, among them a Detective Constable, a Detective Sergeant, a Detective Inspector and two Chief Inspectors are being investigated for alleged gross misconduct. The actions of more of their former colleagues who have now left the force altogether, are also being looked into.

Bianca Williams and Ricardo dos Santos were wrongly stopped

Police activity has never been far from the headlines. Two Met officers accused over the stop and search of black athletes Bianca Williams and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, were found guilty of gross misconduct by a police disciplinary tribunal and sacked.

All of this has come as it was disclosed that a total of 48,979 grievances were lodged about police behaviour generally in the year ending March 2022, against 14,393 the previous year, according to official Home Office (HO) figures.

Labour have called policing figures a “scandal”

Labour have called it a “scandal” that only 5.7 per cent of crimes were solved last year, and 2.3 million cases were dropped altogether without a suspect even being found.

The 5.7 per cent figure represents the proportion of crimes that resulted in a charge or court summons.

Carrick was known as ‘Bastard Dave’ to his colleagues

Statistics which have been published by the HO show a significant increase in robbery, knife and gun crime. For shoplifting it was even worse – the cases have risen by 25 per cent in the last year, while the charge rate FELL. It dropped from 15 per cent to 12.2, and only one in eight shoplifters are charged. For sex offences, the charge rate was just 3.6 per cent – and it is a tiny 2.1  per cent for rape. Complaints against the police have TRIPLED since the scandals of rapist David Carrick, and murderer Wayne Couzens.

This information (including Mr Michael’s controversial comments which he has now defended) underscores worries about police actions overall, including that an officer in one Welsh force allegedly punched a suspect.

Horrendous details about police behaviour has emerged only recently too. PC Richard Helling of SWP sent abuse victims sexual messages while investigating their cases and started a relationship with one of the vulnerable women. He also misused a police computer to check whether anyone had reported a woman performing a sex act on him in a car at a golf club. Another woman exploited by Helling had been a victim of domestic assault and was experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She emailed him photographs of her injuries, which were to her breasts, and Helling wrote in an email: “Got to say, fantastic boobs”. Helling pleaded guilty to four counts of improperly exercising police powers, one of perverting the course of justice, and two of unauthorised access to police computer material, and was sentenced to 15 months in jail.

Police officers have committed terrible crimes

A paedophile police officer in SWP was also recently jailed for his actions. Lewis Edwards, of Bridgend, was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum of 12 years, at Cardiff Crown Court, after he pleaded guilty to 160 counts relating to child sex offences.

Over the course of years he had sexually abused and blackmailed at least 210 young girls into sending extreme sexual images of themselves. He had pretended to be a teenage boy, and gained his victims’ trust before convincing them to send an image of themselves.

It was life in jail for one former police officer

Once he had what he wanted, he blackmailed girls between the ages of 10-years-old and 16-years-old into sending more explicit sexual images of themselves over Snapchat, which he recorded and saved on a number of devices. The headline in the South Wales Echo (SWE) was that Edwards was “‘SADISTIC’”, and in The Times it was: “Life in prison for PC who groomed 200 schoolgirls”.

‘I didn’t report what happened to me because of the police culture’

It all comes as information is divulged that trust in the police among women has sunk to a new low. The Crime Survey for England and Wales published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that just 16 per cent of sexual assault victims have enough faith in officers to report the crime. In ANOTHER survey – also of victims – 75 per cent said they were negatively impacted by what the police did or didn’t do in their case. Three out of every four rape and sexual assault victims said that their mental health was harmed during the police investigation.

‘I’m not going to the police to tell them about what just happened to me…’

The survey was based on 2,000 rape and sexual assault survivors across England and Wales as part of a UK Government-funded programme, called Operation Soteria Bluestone, which found that as many as 42 per cent did not always feel believed, while 56 per cent said they were unlikely to report a rape again. One said: “I am more afraid of the police than being raped again”.

Police behaviour has even earned a leader in The Times. It said about recent disclosures that 1,000 officers in Met are either suspended or on ‘restricted duties’: ‘That is one in 34 officers, or as the deputy assistant commissioner who announced the figures pointed out, “nearly the size of a small police force in other places in the country”‘.

Liz Saville-Roberts, MP, is leader of Plaid Cymru in the House of Commons, and tabled the motion highlighting miscarriages by South Wales Police which called for a judicial inquiry

But these terrible details are not the only concerns about the police, and actions by SWP have been heavily scrutinised. An Early Day Motion (EDM) in the UK Parliament focused attention on the incredible number of miscarriage of justice cases in South Wales. After being tabled it was signed by several MPs, and proclaimed: “…this House notes the series of cases since the 1980s investigated by South Wales Police force that resulted in wrongful convictions; further notes the devastating impact that wrongful accusation and imprisonment can have on people subject to miscarriages of justice; expresses concern that many of the perpetrators of these crimes have yet to be found; and calls on the Ministry of Justice to organise a judicial inquiry into all miscarriages of justice that took place between 1982 and 2016”. The motion was immediately signed by three Plaid Cymru (Plaid) MPs, including the party’s leader in the House of Commons (HoC), who tabled the motion, Liz Saville-Roberts.

Phil with Mike O’Brien, one of those wrongly convicted after a flawed police investigation, at the Media Conference calling for an inquiry into the actions of South Wales Police

A protest was held in July to endorse the EDM, and put the spotlight on the actions of SWP. Campaigners gathered at Cardiff’s law courts in a demonstration organised by one of the innocent people imprisoned after a flawed ‘inquiry’ by SWP, Michael O’Brien, of the so-called Cardiff Newsagent Three.

He was behind a Media Conference (MC), too (at which the Editor of The Eye, Welshman Phil Parry spoke), also demanding the judicial inquiry to uncover the truth about the miscarriages (it has since been refused, but as the EDM and recent events show, there is now increasing pressure to hold one). Phil stressed 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 said: “Scotland is much bigger, but only has ONE. London has almost nine million people yet has just TWO Think of the public money that is wasted duplicating resources, to pay fat salaries to all those Assistant Chief Constables, and Chief Constables!”.

Phil was told to put his notebook away when one solicitor described what was going on

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’, but that this was the least that should be done with SWP.

Cardiff newsagent, Phillip Saunders, and one of the three people wrongly convicted of his murder, Mike O’Brien

Mr O’Brien talked movingly about how his health had been badly affected after he spent the 11 years inside prison, for a crime he did not commit. He told The Eye: “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.

The Cardiff Three. Three black men were convicted of murder (although FIVE were put on trial), but one white man actually did it

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 appalling 1988 murder, and even apologised, through his barrister, to the others who had been incorrectly jailed.

Murderer Jeffrey Gafoor and photofit the police had originally

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 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. A website highlighting their case has been launched called “Justice for the Cardiff 5”. It exposes the failings by SWP investigating officers, and bolsters demands for the judicial inquiry.

Several television programmes have looked at the disturbing events

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. Early last year, another was transmitted (although it is still available to be streamed) examining Mr O’Brien’s story in detail.

The promotional material before one of them, said: “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”.

Phil Jones formerly of South Wales Police had a “lack of moral fibre” according to the judge when he was jailed

Adding to the woes of SWP, and stressing the EDM as well as the demonstration (and the recent disturbing events), is that a former head of CID was recently imprisoned. 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.

Even before these awful details hit the headlines, Sky documentaries were broadcast, called Murder in the Valleys (MITV), looking into 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.

Campaigners supported David (Dai) Morris, before he died in prison still protesting his innocence

This, too, has been highlighted by recent incidents, despite the fact it is not (in theory) a miscarriage of justice case, although the man convicted of them (David ‘Dai’ Morris) died in jail 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 Murderstalking rubbish!…South Wales police have done themselves no favours again with this one”.

Dai Morris’ sister, Debra (now Thomas) with parents after the first conviction: ‘They’ve got the wrong man’

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????”.

Mandy Power, her two daughters Katie and Emily, along with disabled mother Doris Dawson, were all beaten to death

The successful prosecution case against Mr Morris was that he had gone to Ms Power’s Clydach home 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 another 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”.

There is little to smile about for David Thorne…

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 stated:  “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 (who used the word ‘sublime’ when he meant ‘subdued’), was 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.

Martyn Lloyd Evans on ‘Murder in the Valleys’, didn’t think an E-Fit was ‘relevant’

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.

Wynne Phillips, formerly head of CID South Wales Police on ‘Murder in the Valleys’ – ‘We can’t manufacture evidence’

In the MITV films Mr Evans’ boss as the then head of SWP CIDWynne Phillips, also said something incredible: “We can’t manufacture evidence”. But events before the murders, showed that SWP have done EXACTLY that.

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.

Alun Michael is under pressure…

It seems a shame that no admission of the inaccuracy of his comments, was made by Mr Michael.

He just defended them…

 

 

The memories of Phil’s decades long award-winning career in journalism (including stories about police actions) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disease Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now.

‘BUY MY BOOK!’

Publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Tomorrow – more disturbing details of police actions (this time ALLEGED), as we show how once again the extraordinary misbehaviour of the police throws the spotlight on those historical ones by SWP, which are still having terrible repercussions today.