Archive for January, 2012

Important documents, whose disappearance led to the collapse of Britain’s biggest ever corruption trial, have been found in boxes held by South Wales Police.

Yesterday, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, ordered a full inquiry into the collapse of a trial of eight police officers accused of perverting the course of justice during the 1988 hunt for the murderer of Lynette White in Cardiff.

The trial collapsed in December and the officers were acquitted after the judge ruled they could no longer get a fair trial as certain documents were thought to have been shredded.

Then later yesterday IPCC commissioner Sarah Green released a statement to say they had not been destroyed after all.

“The Independent Police Complaints Commission has now verified that the documents that the Lynette White trial at Swansea Crown Court on 1 December 2011 was told may have been destroyed have been discovered and were not shredded as first thought,” she stated.

“The court was told that some enquiries had been made about documents relating to complaints made to the IPCC itself and that it seemed that these documents may have been shredded on the orders of South Wales Police  Senior Investigating Officer Chris Coutts.

“The documents were found in the original boxes that the IPCC had sent through to SWP as part of the trial disclosure process in 2009. These boxes were still in the possession of SWP and have subsequently been verified.

“The IPCC investigation has not yet concluded and will also need to establish what happened to these two files of documents. The IPCC will also continue to liaise with the review being carried out by the Director of Public Prosecutions. We have of course informed the Director of Public Prosecutions about the discovery of these documents.

“The IPCC will of course publish its findings in due course.”

A friend of one of the men originally accused of Lynette White’s murder during the botched investigation told The Guardian: “The whole thing gets more bizarre by the minute. Did this whole trial collapse because they lost a box or two of documents? It beggars belief. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so depressing.”

And a close friend of another of the men, Tony Paris, who was wrongfully jailed for the murder and had given evidence to the police corruption trial before its collapse, said: “This is just unbelievable. How much pressure can they put these men under? It all defies belief.”

The question for the authorities now is whether, following the discovery of the “shredded” documents, the police officers can be re-tried.

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A major review has been ordered into the way the prosecution in a police corruption trial was handled.

Eight officers were cleared of perverting the course of justice after a judge at Swansea Crown Court ruled they could not get a fair trial.

It had been alleged that the former South Wales Police officers had manufactured the case against five men – three of whom were jailed for life before being released on appeal.

The retired officers all pleaded not guilty to the charge and were cleared after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) offered no evidence against the defendants.

It emerged that files relating to complaints by a murder trial defendant had been destroyed – a revelation which called the trial’s disclosure process into question.

The trial – relating to the 1988 hunt for the murderer of Lynette White in Cardiff- had already been sitting for five months when it collapsed in December and had cost an estimated £30m.

Today, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, ordered a full inquiry into the trial.

“Shortly after the collapse of this trial I initiated a full and detailed review of the circumstances in which the decision to offer no further evidence was made,” said Mr Starmer. “I asked leading counsel for the prosecution to prepare a comprehensive analysis of the reasons for the decision.

“I have now considered that analysis and as part of the review have decided to ask Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, an independent statutory body, to consider the way in which the prosecution team conducted the disclosure exercise in this case.”

Mr Starmer said the HMCPSI’s “independent review” would consider:

*Whether the prosecution team (CPS and counsel) approached, prepared and managed disclosure in this case effectively, bearing in mind the history, size and complexity of the investigation and prosecution;

*Whether the prosecution team complied with their disclosure duties properly, including all relevant guidance and policy relating to disclosure, in light of the extensive material generated in this case;

*And whether the existing legal guidance is appropriate for cases of similar size and complexity.

HM Chief Inspector, Michael Fuller, said: “It is important that the public can have confidence in the way the CPS conducts its cases and the Inspectorate will examine the issues with the utmost thoroughness. Inevitably this will take time but will be completed as soon as is practicable and a report prepared for the DPP.

“South Wales Police has decided to refer their part in this matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and we will work in tandem with the IPCC inquiry into what happened. Both organizations are committed to sharing all relevant information with each other and arrangements are being made to ensure there is meaningful liaison between the two inquiries.”

Welsh serial killer Peter Moore will be kept in jail for the rest of his life, judges at the European Court of Human Rights have ruled.

Moore and two other convicted killers – Jeremy Bamber and Douglas Vinter – had asked the court to rule on whole life sentences.

The murderers said condemning them to die in prison amounts to “inhuman or degrading treatment”. They argued all sentences should be regularly reviewed.

When convicted the applicants were given whole life orders, meaning they cannot be released other than at the discretion of the Secretary of State on compassionate grounds, for example, if they are terminally ill.

Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, all prisoners whose tariffs were set by the Secretary of State are able to apply to the High Court for review of that tariff.

Cinema owner Peter Moore, from Bagillt in North Wales, was convicted of murdering four men for his sexual gratification during a bloody three-month crime spree in 1995.

During his trial he was described by prosecutor Lord Carlile as the most dangerous man ever to set foot in Wales. He was jailed in 1996.

The High Court found that his case involved the murder of two or more people, sexual or sadistic conduct and a substantial degree of premeditation and that there were no mitigating circumstances.

The European court has now held that in the case of each of the three men the High Court had decided that an all-life tariff was “required, relatively recently and following a fair and detailed consideration”.

All three applicants had committed particularly brutal and callous murders, said the court, and it did not consider that these sentences were grossly disproportionate or amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment.

There had, therefore, been no violation of Article 3 in the case of any of the applicants.

Bamber, who was jailed for shooting five members of his family dead in Essex in 1986, has always protested his innocence, claiming his schizophrenic sister shot the victims before turning the gun on herself at their farmhouse at Tolleshunt D’Arcy.

Douglas Vinter, of Normanby, Teesside, killed both his wife and a work colleague.