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Their behaviour is again being unmasked

A major police watchdog investigation into claims of racism, misogyny and homophobia by officers, shines the spotlight yet again on disturbing revelations about some in its neighbouring force (the biggest one in Wales), which has been responsible for a string of miscarriage of justice cases.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) has said three serving Gwent Police (GP) officers are being looked into, and it would keep the involvement of other officers under review.

Andrew RT Davies has spoken of fears about deep “rot”

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.

Readers were told of a ‘toxic’ culture in Gwent Police

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”.

Phil has spoken out

Meanwhile, these appalling disclosures put centre stage actions by GP’s next-door force, South Wales Police (SWP). 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. Following the MC some then marched to the 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 (among them the small GP), he told The Eye. “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 with Mike O’Brien at the Media Conference

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.

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

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 spoke 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.

Mike O’Brien, with Jonathan Jones and Annette Hewins – there have been many miscarriages of justice in South Wales…

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.

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 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.

The Cardiff Three. Three black men were convicted of murder but one white man actually did it

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.

After looking into the history of the Cardiff Newsagent Three case, new evidence was secured which led to their release from prison

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 this year, another was transmitted examining Mr O’Brien’s story in detail.

The promotional material before one of them, 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”.

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

Adding to the woes of SWP, and emphasising the report into police corruption 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, who is now 63, 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.

Bristol Crown Court where a former senior South Wales Police officer was jailed for corruption

The lengthy investigation, called Operation Boost, led to the once-lauded police officer being jailed for 18 months. Mr Jones confessed to conspiracy to commit wilful misconduct in a public office, and conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, at Bristol Crown Court in December 2008.

The judge Simon Darwall-Smith said: “For a person of your age and former seniority, retiring at the rank of detective chief superintendent, it saddens this court to see how you conspired with your friends…because you knew they were prepared to break the law to access information. This lack of moral fibre on your part goes to the root of the corrupt culture existing in parts of the force.”

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

Sky documentaries were also broadcast earlier this year, called Murder in the Valleys (MITV), looking into a FURTHER CASE – the horrific Clydach murders in 1999.

This, too, was put centre stage by the MC, as well as by the report into 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.

Mike O’Brien said on the Sky television programme ‘Murder in the Valleys’ he would become the police’s worst nightmare

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.

David Thorne of South Wales Police – ‘We got it wrong’

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’.

Debra Morris (now Thomas) with parents on ‘Murder in the Vallleys’: ‘They’ve got the wrong man’

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 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.

Phil Parry and Stuart Lewis on BBC Panorama in 2002

He proclaimed:  “It’s safe to say we got it wrong (in the past).  We absolutely got it wrongThere 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. 

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

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.

Sky’s ‘Murder in the Valleys’ showed how the case caused huge disquiet in the community, while suspects were questioned but released, and now there are calls to scrap South Wales Police altogether

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 Valley’ – ‘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.

‘READ MY BOOK!’

Perhaps this too should be investigated by a police watchdog as it examines claims in the next door police force of racism, misogyny and homophobia by officers…

 

The memories of Phil’s incredible 39-year award-winning career in journalism (including important miscarriage of justice stories), as he was gripped by the rare neurological condition , Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!

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