Here is the first of what I am hoping will turn into a Mini Series of posts on the theme of Image Over Integrity. I do hope that Tessa Munt MP doesn’t mind but the bulk of this story cannot be told any better than by quoting her own newspaper article, and her blog, from March this year, so sit back, pour yourself a stiff one and have a crack at this one, I have to say that I was staggered by the whole thing;
” A couple of years ago, a man from Cheddar walked into my office and told me what had happened to him and his family.
Mark had joined the Metropolitan Police and worked in the ‘TSG’ – a unit of specially trained officers who deal with terrorism and serious public order threats.
In 2007, Mark and six officers arrested a couple of youths and took them to Paddington Green Police Station in North London, where they were put into the cells.
Around midnight, Mark and five of his colleagues were told that because the seventh officer had detailed complaints about their aggressive and violent behaviour towards the youths, the six of them were sent home – with two later suspended and the remaining four moved to separate teams.
Seven years later, these six officers are still awaiting proper justice.
Their case raises worries about the Met Police and its treatment of its own officers.
The Met was asked to hand over the CCTV tapes from the police station repeatedly in the two years before the officers went to trial – Mark charged with racially aggravated common assault and his colleagues with misfeasance in public office.
But detective work by the Met went strangely off course, with the Court told in a sworn statement that the 29 CCTV cameras at the police station were not working that night.
That wasn’t true.
Just 24 hours before the Court hearing started, some 2,000 hours of CCTV showing what happened at Paddington Green Police Station miraculously re-appeared after being mislaid for over two years.
One officer was formally cleared early on in the trial, but Mark and four of his colleagues spent four weeks on trial at Kingston Crown Court, in the dock during the day, and spending evenings and weekends searching the CCTV footage.
Because those CCTV tapes provided all the proof Mark and his fellow officers needed to show they had been wrongly charged.
In his direction to the jury, Judge Southwell said they should be “careful” examining the evidence of the officer accusing his colleagues.
Mark and his colleagues could have gone to prison if the CCTV hadn’t been found.
Luckily it was.
Mark and his teammates were cleared of all the charges against them at the end of that trial in 2009.
So, the officers and their families complained about what looked like a ‘stitch up’.
The case was investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (the IPCC) not once, but twice.
The IPCC reports supported Mark and his colleagues. The IPCC saw that something had gone badly wrong, asked the Met to re-investigate and take action against officers it believed were guilty of Gross Misconduct and who should be dismissed.
Unbelievably, the Met asked the very same officers who had originally investigated the conduct of the officers who compiled the case against Mark and his colleagues to re-investigate their own investigation. And not surprisingly, those officers came to the same conclusion as they had the first time.
No Gross Misconduct hearings have taken place. Two of the officers whose investigation led to Mark’s trial are still working for the Met, the other has retired.
But for Mark, his teammates and their families, the nightmare goes on and on. They aren’t in the jobs they loved. One resigned in disgust. Two have broken marriages. All have suffered anxiety, depression and other health problems.
Mark and his teammates are threatened with a legal battle by the youths, who still want to push claims for mis-treatment.
The Met has refused to stand by its own officers and insists they must defend themselves in court in the case brought by the youths, even though they were cleared in criminal proceedings five years ago.
That raises all sorts of questions about whether police officers are protected by the force when they are following the orders of superior officers.
And to cap it all, Mark and his colleagues have discovered their Met staff records contain papers showing they were found guilty and ‘spoken to’ about their behaviour. Not true.
So last week, I laid out the facts in Parliament. If you’d like to hear what I had to say, you can find it here.
I have had many comments and messages of support for Mark and his teammates from serving and retired Police officers over the last week, many of whom express shock, but not surprise at what I said.
I hope this gives Mark and his colleagues strength and that we can get to the bottom of what seems to be a savage injustice.”
Now there are several things that absolutely render me incandescent if they are true.
It is alleged that the DPS officers withheld CCTV footage that demonstrated the innocence of the 6 TSG officers.
It is alleged that the DPS officers misled the Court in relation to the CCTV evidence.
The evidence of the 7th TSG officer, who gave evidence for the prosecution, appears to have been discredited.
That the IPCC investigated this matter not once but twice and still the Met did not do the honourable thing, far from it, still more horror stories to unfold.
Please, please, please take the time to read the Hansard transcript of Tessa Munt’s evidence to Parliament, accessible by following the link. You will not believe your eyes.
If the Met has not been guilty of a serious case of Image Over Integrity with this case then I don’t know what has happened.
Then late the other evening I received an email. I have to be honest with you and declare that I have been unable to corroborate its contents, so pass the salt sellar.
I am informed that TSG officer #7 who started this whole thing off is still serving with the Met, although I cannot confirm that.
Image Over Integrity QED
So do you have a story similar to Mark’s? Do you feel that your Force or organisation has betrayed you in order to protect their image? Do you want that story to be told? If you do, just drop me an email at retiredandangryATyahooDOTcom and I’ll be in touch .