This post arose out of my frustration in failing to convince either the Police, Forensic Office or the Police Ombudsman that there were serious flaws with the official investigation of the fatal crash in which my brother died.
A citizen no longer has the right to have his complaint investigated by the Police but must refer it to the Ombudsman. It doesn’t matter if the investigator hasn’t any experience in the field as was the case with Mr Meehan. There is no access to the Police directly or so I understood from a cursory reading of the Police Act.
One evening I was watching a TV interview of Chief Constable Hugh Orde when he said that he was personally responsible for the behaviour and actions of each of his officers.
I decided to test that statement.
Hugh Orde had become Chief Constable of the relatively new PSNI in May 2002 and remained in post until August 2009. He had joined the Metropolitan Police in London in 1977 and had risen rapidly through the ranks. He was in charge of and influenced the new PSNI’s formative years during the period referred to by PR officers and politicians as the “New Beginning.”
The “New Beginning” could also be interpreted as the changeover of Police from the primary role of “protecting life and property and the prosecution of offenders” to “the protection of erstwhile terrorists, useful criminals, friends and participating Police Officers from the consequences of their actions by hiding, ignoring, creating, or destroying evidence with the co-operation of the rest of the Justice System.” I would suggest that the outcome of the aim of the “New Beginning” was inevitable due to the negotiations and agreements previously set up by Tony Blair and Chris Patton who should have known that the Police and the Justice System would have to corrupt their practices in order to fulfil their political requirements. The secret “Amnesty ” letters were part of that requirement. One could conclude that the Police were empowered to choose who they would prosecute rather than it be decided by the evidence and they could then change Reports and investigations and evidence accordingly to suit their desired outcome.
Corruption of any form is a virulent cancer that must and will spread throughout the whole of any Organisation that foolishly thinks if can control and limit it.
The obvious fault with conscious institutional corruption for a particular purpose is that it will inevitably bleed into all areas of Justice and, if required, will be applied to the totally innocent in indiscriminate measure. It’s a broad brush policy driven by politics or just whim at the expense of Justice. It is much favoured by Police Forces in corrupt, undemocratic countries who have no need to care about the innocent citizens caught up in the collateral damage.
The Police investigation into the crash in which my brother died was selected for burying under “New Beginning” corruption and the rest of the Justice System seamlessly fell in behind.
I don’t contribute all or any of the failure of the “New Beginning” to Chief Constable Orde. Its failure was inbuilt. He was simply one of many leaders in the Justice System who was given the evidence of corruption and chose to do nothing about it. Maybe he thought that his overriding duty was to protect the corrupters. I simply accuse him of failing in his responsibilities as a Chief Constable who, according to him, was personally responsible for the actions of the officers serving under him.
It was just after Meehan of the Ombudsman’s Office had carried out his visit to Police Regional Control and had been mislead into believing that the time of the first emergency call had been received at 1443 and that the computer couldn’t be interfered with.
On 21st June 2006 I sent a six page submission to Chief Constable Orde detailing all the evidence that I had about the errors in Sgt McBride’s Report, including the serious errors that he had admitted to the Ombudsman. I said that unless his Report was at least amended to reflect these admitted errors, then Sgt McBride could be found guilty of perjury if he was to present the current Report to a Court. I went on to list all the faults in the Report and where it was at variance with the facts. I told him that the un-amended Report had been distributed to the many agencies involved with the case and that they had acted on its contents.
I went on to describe the background of the case and detailed how the time of the emergency call to Police was changed from a reported 1453 to 1443 only after I had made a complaint about the Police investigation of a mobile call made by Carson.
Finally, I said that the collision should be re-investigated and a new Report written and distributed. I pointed out that all the evidence was still available with the exception of the Subaru.
I received a speedy reply to say that the letter was being forwarded to the DCU Commander in Antrim, who would contact me. I was also told that my complaint was being forwarded to the Police Ombudsman for their consideration.
I was going round in circles.
By October, I had heard back from the Ombudsman saying that he had spoken with the Deputy Senior Investigating Officer who had in turn discussed it with the Director of Investigations and he would contact me again when he had received direction from Senior management. He was also going round in circles.
I wrote back to OPONI:
“Part of the reason why the Police feel it unnecessary to change any aspect of their Report is because of lack of censure in your original findings. This is not a criticism of your organisation but simply reflects the limited scope of your ability to interfere. The police are hiding behind your skirts and undoubtedly will do so again. That is probably why they have referred the matter back to you again when I had hoped that the Chief Constable might appoint a creditable and unbiased Police officer to review the Report. It would seem that the Police are using you for protection.”
In December, I had not heard again from Mr Meehan so I phoned him and asked him when his new Report would be available. He wasn’t sure but later left me a message to say it would be available on 19th January 2007. He phoned again in the New Year to say that the Report would not be ready as promised. He said that he was waiting for a Report from the Bridgestone Company received by the Police. He said that the police were of the view that the case had now been settled in the civilian Court and there was no further action required of them. I told him that the only case that was settled was Carson’s claim for compensation and there were others outstanding, including a possible charge against Carson for causing death by dangerous driving, a civil claim on behalf of my brother and the Coroner’s Inquest.
By April 2007, my letter to the Chief Constable still had not been dealt with. I wrote to him again. I referred to my letter of June 2006 and I said:
“In that letter I made well-founded allegations that the hard drive of the computer at the Police Control Centre may have been altered to change the time of the accident and I supported this with evidence. You referred the matter back to the Ombudsman for consideration even though all the matters, with the exception of the altered accident time, had already been dealt with in their first Report dated 9th August 2005. You failed to act on any of the recommendations contained in that Report. It is my current understanding that the current investigation by the Ombudsman has been delayed, partly due to staffing problems and partly due to your failure to produce the Report from the Bridgestone Company. It is also my understanding that the resources of the Ombudsman do not allow them to examine your computer for changes to the time record on the hard drive and that this should be done by the Police. You cannot abrogate your responsibilities to investigate this by referring this matter back given that you have previously ignored OPONI’s requests to take further action.”
I went on to say that I wouldn’t accept any further delays and said that unless I had heard by 1st June 2007 that he was prepared to agree to either withdraw the Police Report in total or alternatively to correct the falsehoods contained therein, or to agree to examine the computer hard drive for changes, then I would process the matter further.
I got a reply back in May to say that since “the initial complaint was investigated by the Office of the Police Ombudsman and they had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to merit any disciplinary action against any of the officers involved. The complaint was therefore closed as “Not Substantiated.”
He went on to say “If you feel that this matter now constitutes a further complaint against police then you are quite entitled to lodge this with the Police Ombudsman’s Office.”
What he was saying was that if there was no disciplinary action recommended, then all errors and falsehoods would remain. If the Ombudsman did not have the resources to investigate evidence of tampering in the computer, then it wouldn’t be investigated.
I had approached the Chief Constable directly and he had refused to investigate the very serious allegations made by me. It seemed to me that it wasn’t enough for him to hide behind the Ombudsman’s investigation and do nothing simply because disciplinary action was not recommended. The errors in the Police Report remained and the serious allegation of computer tampering was still not investigated. He was fully aware of this and yet he refused to act on the information. He was to my mind perverting the course of justice, whether he did so to protect his own officers or to protect Carson from the consequences of his driving. Everyone who used or would use the false Police Report to reach a determination was being misled. He knew that his Investigating Officer had admitted his mistakes but refused to change the Report so, to my mind, the Chief Constable was now no less guilty. It would take a Criminal Court to decide if I was right or if there was any merit in my argument. I decided to submit a Report to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for them to consider a prosecution.
Neither the false Collision Report written by McBride and endorsed by Inspector White nor the false timing of the call to Police was exposed and accepted by Police until Kennedy’s Investigation in 2012, more than 6 years too late.
My dealings with the PPS will be the subject of my next post.