Wednesday, March 26, 2014

British Police chief who doesn't have a clue: As shredded corruption files storm grows, Met boss tells MPs 'I don't even know what is missing'

The head of Scotland Yard was accused yesterday of failing to get a grip on the 'chaotic' scandal of shredded police corruption files. In a stuttering performance before MPs, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe admitted he did not even know how many documents had been destroyed.

His extraordinary confession comes nearly two months after his officers found that potentially thousands of files from an internal probe were missing.

Written by a senior detective, it reveals officers stole and trafficked illegal drugs, shared rewards cash with informants, faked applications for more payouts, sold confidential intelligence to criminals and accepted bribes to destroy and fabricate evidence.

Yesterday Keith Vaz said a full parliamentary inquiry into the 'structure, governance and culture' of the Met would be launched by the home affairs committee.

The Labour MP, who chairs the Commons panel, said Sir Bernard had yet to get a grip on the issue of the 'chaotic' filing operation and his answers were not reassuring.

He pointed out the Met chief had personally learned of the 2001 shredding operation on February 4 and it was now March 25. In his evidence Sir Bernard also told MPs:

He had not read the full report on the police investigation into corruption;

The files may have been destroyed for data protection reasons;

He has not asked two of his predecessors, Lord Stevens and Lord Blair, why the files were destroyed.

Revelations that the documents, gathered under Operation Othona, were destroyed came in Mark Ellison QC's review of the Stephen Lawrence investigation, published on March 6.

Sir Bernard was asked repeatedly if the shredding was malicious and corrupt. He could only reply: 'Did the shredding happen? It seems like it did. The question is about the motivation for the shredding. 'There is an innocent one – it is a normal process of weeding and getting rid of documents – and there is a malicious one. What we have to establish is which one it is.'

Asked what is missing, he said: 'I just don't know – that is what we are going to have to have an investigation to discover.'

Sir Bernard said the shredding is now believed to have taken place in 2001 – not 2003 – as originally thought. A female officer had come forward with details of the destruction of the files, which was carried out when Sir Bernard was an assistant commissioner.

Sir Bernard, who told Mr Vaz it was a 'nonsense' to think that an inquiry was needed, insisted the Met was in good shape.

But MPs were left exasperated by Sir Bernard's failure to answer a series of key questions.

They included whether the documents might have been shredded to comply with human rights law and data protection. Asked repeatedly if this was the case, he could say only that: 'It is entirely possible'.

There was astonishment when Mr Vaz asked whether Sir Bernard had read three key reports into possible corruption in the Met. He replied that he had read only part of one of the dossiers and had not seen the other files.

Mr Vaz also asked Sir Bernard if he had seen the devastating 2012

memo written by Detective Superintendent David Hurley that summarises the destroyed files. Mr Vaz said: 'Could I ask have you seen the memo written by Hurley?' Sir Bernard replied: 'I haven't.'

Mr Vaz said: 'Sir Bernard, normally I find you very reassuring, I'm afraid I don't think we're reassured at the moment.'

Disturbing questions now remain over whether corrupt officers undermined the inquiries into the murders of Stephen Lawrence and private eye Daniel Morgan in 1987.

Stephen's parents Doreen and Neville have long feared that corruption played a part in the years of police failings over his racist murder in 1993.

Mr Morgan's family believes the same network of officers shielded those behind the axe killing of the married father of two.

Yesterday Sir Bernard told MPs that the Met shouldn't be involved in any future corruption investigation into a former detective called John Davidson, who worked on both murder inquiries.

But he indicated that he is considering whether a sixth investigation should be started into the unsolved murder of Mr Morgan, who was said to have been preparing to expose police corruption when he was killed in a South East London pub car park.

Mr Ellison's report found that an undercover police officer was working within the 'Lawrence family camp' in the late 90s as evidence was being taken for the judicial inquiry led by Sir William Macpherson into Stephen's death.

Mr Ellison found there is evidence to suspect Mr Davidson acted corruptly. It is claimed that he had links to Clifford Norris, the gangland boss father of David Norris, one of the two men who were finally convicted in 2012 of the teenager's racist murder.

It is also claimed that Mr Davidson had links to the failed investigation into the death of Mr Morgan in Sydenham.

Mr Davidson disputes the allegations and has always denied them.

Original report here




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