Friday, December 02, 2011

Botched trial of corrupt British cops

Was the botch deliberate? Looks like it. Cops covering for cops again

The biggest trial of police officers in British legal history collapsed in farce yesterday – leaving taxpayers with a bill of more than £30million.

Britain’s top prosecutor, Keir Starmer QC, said he was ‘extremely concerned’ that an eight-year probe into alleged corruption surrounding one of the UK’s most infamous miscarriages of justice had fallen apart. A judge threw out the case after he said the trial had become ‘unfair’ after key evidence was binned. [By another cop!]

The prosecution admitted crucial papers surrounding the murder of prostitute Lynette White – stabbed 50 times in February 1988 – had been destroyed by one of the corruption investigation officers.

Last night there were demands for an inquiry into the fiasco.

More than 23 years after Miss White’s murder, eight former officers went on trial in July this year accused of framing three innocent men for her death. Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi and Tony Paris, who became known as the ‘Cardiff Three’, were wrongly jailed for the 20-year-old’s murder in 1990.

They were later freed by the Court of Appeal in 1992 when a judge heavily criticised the original police investigation.

South Wales Police mounted an eight-year inquiry into the case which led to the eight officers being accused of fabricating evidence to frame the ‘Cardiff Three’ and two other men, cousins John and Ronnie Actie who were acquitted in 1990.

Chief superintendent Thomas Page, 62, and chief inspectors Graham Mouncher, 59, and Richard Powell, 58, were alleged to have colluded with five other detectives – Michael Daniels, 62, Paul Jennings, 51, Paul Stephen, 50, Peter Greenwood, 59, and John Seaford, 62 – to pervert the course of justice.

Four other ex-policemen, also jointly accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, were due to stand trial separately next year.

Mr Justice Sweeney halted the trial at Swansea Crown Court, telling the jury: ‘When a trial has become irredeemably unfair it must stop.’

All of those involved, including the four who were due to stand trial, were cleared after it emerged that the officer who led the corruption inquiry, Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Coutts, had ordered files of evidence be destroyed.

South Wales Police Chief Constable Peter Vaughan yesterday referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The accused officers have remained suspended since 2005 on full pay. Legal experts said the cost of the police inquiry and bungled prosecution would top £30million. But the bill is expected to rise as the acquitted officers are considering suing for malicious prosecution.

Thomas Page said: ‘I’m just relieved that it’s all over now after six-and-a-half years. ‘This would have been my seventh Christmas on bail and we’ve just had stalling tactics from the prosecution.’

Simon Clements, the CPS reviewing lawyer in the case, said: ‘We were satisfied at the time that this was a case which should go before a jury for trial.’

Original report here

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