Socialist Worker

Case collapses as police corruption probe destroyed evidence

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2282

The biggest police corruption trial in British legal history collapsed in farce last week.

The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, threw out the case against eight police officers after it was revealed that key evidence had been destroyed.

Prosecutor Keir Starmer QC said he was “extremely concerned” that an eight-year probe into alleged corruption surrounding one of the most infamous miscarriages of justice had fallen apart.

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

In July this year, more than 23 years after Lynette’s death, eight former officers went on trial accused of framing three innocent men for her murder.

Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi and Tony Paris, who became known as the Cardiff Three, were wrongly jailed in 1990.

The Court of Appeal freed them in 1992 and a judge heavily criticised the original police investigation.

But the police were cleared last week after it emerged that the officer who led the inquiry into corruption, Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Coutts, had ordered files of evidence be destroyed.

South Wales Police mounted the eight-year inquiry.

It led to the eight officers being accused of “fitting up” the Cardiff Three and two other men, cousins John and Ronnie Actie, who were acquitted in 1990.

Prosecutor Nicholas Dean said, “Deliberate destruction of documents by the senior investigating officer appears to have occurred.”

Colluded

Chief Superintendent Thomas Page and chief inspectors Graham Mouncher and Richard Powell were alleged to have colluded with five other detectives—Michael Daniels Paul Jennings, Paul Stephen, Peter Greenwood and John Seaford—to pervert the course of justice.

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

Dean told the court, “It would be impossible for me to give reassurances that similar evidence has not been treated the same way.”

All the officers were suspended since 2005 on full pay.


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News
Tue 6 Dec 2011, 17:55 GMT
Issue No. 2282
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