Monday, August 11, 2014

Five British cops accused of gross misconduct after 'changing their stories over death of suspect during drug search'

Five police officers will face gross misconduct hearings but no criminal charges over the death of a man who collapsed after being restrained during a drugs search.

Habib Ullah, 39, died after he was forced to the ground in a car park in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire in 2008 by police who believed he was hiding class A drugs in his mouth.

Officers alleged that he refused to reveal a package of drugs hidden in his mouth. When a struggle followed, he collapsed.

After an inquest into his death, the CPS decided that there was not enough evidence for charges of manslaughter by gross negligence, misconduct in public office, perjury and perverting the course of justice.

But the officers from Thames Valley Police could face the sack after the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found grounds for gross misconduct because the police gave different statements to the coroner and the IPCC.

Today, his distraught relatives reacted with fury as prosecutors decided not to bring charges in the case.

Mr Ullah's sister Nasrit Mahmood said: ‘We are not happy that the CPS has decided not to charge those police officers who are responsible for Habib's death.’

In 2008, an initial inquiry into Mr Ullah's death was conducted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, but it was not referred to the CPS.

Two years later, Mr Ullah’s girlfriend Emma Forbes told a court that up to five officers restrained him as they tried to force the package out of his throat, including one officer who shouted ‘break his arm’.

In 2011, the case was re-opened and new evidence emerged during police officers' accounts of what had taken place. The investigation also looked at further opinion from restraint experts and doctors.

But the inquest was abandoned after concerns were raised about the difference in statements the police had given to the coroner and what they had previously told the IPCC.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is also considering the conduct of a Police Federation solicitor in relation to Mr Ullah's death.

Mr Ullah's sister Nasrit Mahmood added: ‘At the inquest they are caught out withholding evidence in front of everyone including the judge and jury.

'We have evidence of police cover-ups, so not only is it my opinion that they caused my brother's death but these police officers have not given a full and truthful account.

'How on earth can CPS disregard the facts? ‘This sadly shows that the CPS together with the IPCC are only there to protect and cover up police crimes.

‘Their decision has only shown their true colours but made us much stronger. ‘This is not justice for us and we will not give up until justice is served and that is a promise.’

Guido Liguori, IPCC Associate Commissioner, said: ‘This has been a complex investigation which as we have said has taken an unbearably long time for Mr Ullah's family.

‘I am very sorry for the prolonged distress this has caused, but it has been essential to ensure that our investigation was robust and thorough.

‘Five officers and a solicitor were interviewed under caution and we felt there was sufficient evidence to refer to the CPS.

'In light of the CPS decision, we have now sent the report to the family of Mr Ullah and the SRA.

'In accordance with procedures under the Police Reform Act 2002 Thames Valley Police were sent a copy of the report in January 2014 and they have determined that five officers should now face gross misconduct hearings.

'We have also sent a copy of the report to the Coroner in advance of the inquest into Mr Ullah's tragic and untimely death.’

A spokesman for the CPS added that it was unable to establish a causal link, to the criminal standard, between the conduct of Thames Valley Police officers and Mr Ullah's death.

They also questioned whether alterations made to their statements were intended or able to pervert the course of justice.

He said: ‘The case has been thoroughly reviewed in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.'

‘We carefully examined the evidence in this case, including evidence provided by experts in pathology, emergency medicine and policing techniques and accounts from eyewitnesses.’

‘Since there is insufficient evidence to give rise to a realistic prospect of convicting any person of any criminal offence arising from the circumstances of Mr Ullah's death, we have advised the IPCC that no further criminal action should be taken.

‘Our thoughts remain with Mr Ullah's family at this difficult time for them and we fully understand that this is not the decision they will have wanted.

'We have written to them to explain our decision in detail and have offered to meet with them to discuss this matter should they so wish.’

Original report here




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