By Iain Gould, Solicitor and specialist in actions against the police
Peter Oborne’s article in The Telegraph today (click on the link to access it) makes a number of interesting points about police misconduct in the aftermath of the Andrew Mitchell ‘plebgate’ scandal.
I have previously blogged about the Mitchell case here, where I make the point that the police routinely fabricate and exaggerate evidence, and in this blog post where I question whether an ordinary citizen would receive the same treatment as a government minister.
Mr. Oborne says that, when first hearing about the Andrew Mitchell affair, his initial sympathies were with the police. As The Telegraph’s Chief Political Commentator he frequently sees senior politicians behave in a rude or overbearing manner to people they consider beneath them. With this in mind, it was not hard for him to believe the police’s claim that Mr. Mitchell used the word ‘pleb’ while insulting them.
But his views changed when, after a Channel 4 investigation produced CCTV footage which contradicted the police’s version of events, officers involved in the initial incident were arrested on suspicion of misconduct.
Further, Deborah Glass, the Deputy Chair of the IPCC, recently stated that a ‘clear the air’ meeting between Mr. Mitchell and serving police officers in the Police Federation resulted in more police misconduct.
She asserts that the three police officers concerned gave a false account of the meeting in order to add more political pressure on Mr. Mitchell, and questions the police’s own investigation which found that those officers had no case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct.
As the internal report by the IPCC initially proposed disciplinary action, the matter is continuing with Home Affairs Committee Chairman Keith Vaz demanding an explanation.
Royal Commission into Police Misconduct
Mr. Oborne argues for a Royal Commission to restore confidence in the police who have been rocked by this scandal, Hillsborough, the Jean Charles de Menezes affair, the Stephen Lawrence enquiry, and many others.
One such case he refers to was that of my client Karim Allison. (You can read the case report on my website by clicking on the link.)
Karim Allison was prosecuted after making a complaint about a police officer.
Like Andrew Mitchell, he was the subject of a police conspiracy in that police officers joined together to fabricate evidence against him. Unlike Mr. Mitchell, Karim had to endure the stress and upset of a lengthy criminal prosecution which only ended on appeal at the Crown Court.
It was at that point that he instructed me as a solicitor who specialises in actions against the police.
Despite the high risks involved in accusing the police of misconduct, I pursued Karim’s case all the way to trial.
The police fought hard, denied liability and any wrongdoing, but after the trial a jury found that the officers involved had fabricated evidence. The finding, which was not appealed, confirms on the court record that the police lied to secure a conviction of an innocent man.
Police Misconduct investigation
I support Mr. Oborne’s call for a Royal Commission. There has to be an in-depth and impartial enquiry into at least:
- police conduct at the lower level, where prosecutions are started and stories fabricated, and
- at the higher level, where police officers who are guilty of misconduct, fabrication etc. are treated leniently by their superiors in the Police.
There can be no more easy rides for the police. Penalties must be harsher to act as a deterrent to future misconduct.
The option of early retirement must be removed for those in the Police who are found guilty of misconduct, and, where appropriate, they should be prosecuted in the criminal courts to the full extent of the law.
If ordinary citizens like Karim Allison are expected to defend themselves in court when charged with criminal offences, then why shouldn’t their accusers?
If you have been prosecuted for an offence where you suspect the police fabricated or exaggerated evidence, contact me, Iain Gould, using the online form below, on 0151 933 5525, or via my firm’s website.
Andrew Mitchell: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by DFID – UK Department for…: http://flickr.com/photos/dfid/4603106939/
Protester: cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Alan Stanton: http://flickr.com/photos/alanstanton/8110650330/