|HAVING TO GO WHERE THE LOCAL MEDIA DARE NOT TREAD - THE SNAKES HEAD|
Note that the three officers were apparently accused of not only misleading foreign law-enforcement officers but also Senior Officers (unspecified in the document) in the States of Jersey Police Force and members of the Law Officers Department. Given that Minty is a Chief Inspector and may have been acting in the rank of Superintendent at the relevant time, the Senior Officers who were allegedly deceived were likely to be the then Acting Deputy Chief Officer, Shaun DuVal, and the then Chief Officer, Graham Power. Yet we understand that neither person was called to give evidence. Moreover, the Attorney General appeared to indicate recently that neither he nor his department were involved in the disciplinary hearing. We are therefore inclined to ask just what evidence was brought to the hearing to support the allegation that these people were deceived. If no evidence was called then these allegations could not reasonably be expected to succeed. It is no surprise therefore that those particular charges were dismissed.
decision on Thursday 10 January 2013 that I did not expect to see my comments in the media and whilst I was not gagging others, I did make it clear that I did not authorise the use of my comments other than for this hearing and I do not authorise the publication of this written judgment other than for the purposes of this hearing.
Senior figures in the Jersey Legal Establishment are not used to criticism and so Advocate Julian Gollop may not enjoy reading the observation that he, who we understand was the Advocate initially appointed for the officer’s defence by the Police Association Insurers, was slow to identify a conflict of interest. We have enquired as to the nature of the alleged conflict and understand that it related to Advocate Gollop’s role as prosecutor on behalf of the Attorney General in relation to the original Warren case. Observers of the Jersey legal scene will be aware that Advocate Gollop is a frequent recipient of briefs of this nature on behalf of the Crown. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but it created a conflict of interest which the Tribunal felt Advocate Gollop was slow to identify. It was Advocate Gollop who, during the Warren trial, promoted the line on behalf of the Crown that the complications regarding the bugging of the car in France arose because the police had acted illegally. This did not sit well with what we have been told was the position of the accused officers which was that the Law Officers Department had misunderstood the law, over-stated the alleged illegality, or at least had supported and encouraged the actions taken by the police. These are two conflicting views and it is difficult to see how it was ever thought that the same Advocate could advance both, albeit at different hearings. There is also in this paragraph, a reference to a second Advocate apparently departing from the case at short notice. If true then it is certainly bad form at the least. However in this case the outcome was positive in that the able Advocate Sinel stepped in at short notice and by all accounts did an impressive job. Whatever the feelings of other Advocates in relation to the case, the prospect of criticising the conduct of the Jersey law Officers Department and thereby blotting his copybook for the future, was clearly not at the top of Advocate Sinels worry-list. Also in this paragraph there is an intriguing reference to an expert witness by the name of McKay for whom money had been set aside which had then apparently gone missing. Regular observers of the Jersey scene will be aware that missing money is not exactly an unknown phenomenon in the Island, but a reference to such an event in the findings of a disciplinary case is somewhat unusual. We have made enquiries in an attempt to find out more about this matter and confess that we have been unable to establish the full picture. However, from what we have been told it appears that the witness McKay was an expert lawyer from the UK who specialised in the legalities of surveillance cases. We have been told that he produced a legal opinion which stated that the Jersey Law Officers had not fully understood the law relating to the bugging of the car in France and may not have presented the full legal picture to the Privy Council before it made its criticism of the Police. Mr McKay is said to have concluded that the officers in the case did nothing illegal. Defence funds were set aside in order to secure his evidence for the disciplinary hearing, yet according the record of the hearing, those funds disappeared. We do not know whether Mr McKay’s evidence, or indeed Mr McKay himself, disappeared at the same time, but like others we would like to know more about this episode.
which have either been decided upon or effected the Crown about which more later.
This paragraph deals with the letter that was never sent. The letter was from Assistant Chief Constable Pryde of Hampshire Police to HM Attorney General for Jersey. At the disciplinary hearing the letter was referred to by Chief Superintendent Cessford of Hampshire Police who said that it had been sent but no acknowledgement or reply had been received. It later emerged that the letter had been prepared but had never been posted. We are given no more direct information on this matter but, given what is said later in this paragraph, we may be able to “join the dots” and make a fair guess as to what happened. The report of the decision of the hearing goes on to state that the “authorities in Jersey” and in particular the States of Jersey Police, did not cooperate fully with the Disciplinary Enquiry. The context of these comments implies that the Law Officers Department are one of the “authorities” to which this comment refers. This is in our experience remarkable and unprecedented. So what are we to make of it? To begin with we understand that a proper police disciplinary enquiry would seek to obtain all of the relevant evidence whether it was for or against the accused officers. We do not know what the difficulty was, but we feel confident that a proper enquiry would ask for things such as notes of legal advice, records of meetings, transcripts and documents showing what was actually said and done at the time and by who, rather than what people would attempt to claim later with the benefit of hindsight. It sometimes happens that the Investigating Officers would wish to speak to witness other than those put forward to them by the police force commissioning the investigation. If they are good investigators then they will “follow the evidence” rather than an agenda prescribed by others. Is it possible that Hampshire Police made requests of this nature, and that they were refused? And if so why? Could it be that there existed evidence which would support the version of events given by the accused officers and discredit the version given by others, and that there were individuals in positions of authority that were resolved that this evidence would never emerge? In our minds, that is what it appears is being implied in the Tribunal findings. Without more information we cannot be sure. But the above background may cast some light on the unsent letter which is referred to in the early part of the paragraph. Is it possible that this was a letter to the Attorney General drafted by Cessford for his boss, Pryde, to sign? Could it be that the letter contained details of alleged non-cooperation by the Law Officers Department, which Cessford wanted his boss to put on record? Perhaps Pryde thought better of it, perhaps he decided not to send the letter but then failed to tell Cessford, which then left Cessford in the position of referring to the letter during the hearing only to discover later that it had not been sent? Without more information we can only speculate on this matter. Nevertheless, the findings of the Tribunal paint a picture of the States of Jersey Police, in apparent consultation with the Law Officers and others, commissioning an independent investigation of their own officers, and then failing to cooperate with that investigation. It would be understandable if readers viewed this behaviour as unusual and bordering on the surreal, and it would be understandable if there was speculation as to what if anything the Force and others felt they had to hide from investigators which they themselves had appointed.
it was a comment made by a senior Crown Advocate having conduct of the prosecution of the case which could only serve to encourage the officers in deploying the audio monitoring device in the vehicle and obtaining the product to see later whether it would be admissible in Court or not. It is right that this was an operational decision but, nevertheless, it cannot be the case that the officers are not entitled to at least take some comfort from what they are told by the Crown Advocate prosecuting the case. Ultimately, it became clear that Welsh would not be travelling in his own vehicle but would be travelling as a foot passenger to France where upon he would collect a hire car. Ultimately the officers decided to ascertain the identity of the hire car and obtained the permission of the hirer namely, (name redacted), to install devices into the hire vehicle. As far as fitting the tracking devices on the hire car were concerned, a police to police request was made of the French police to allow the installation of a"tracking device on the rental car". No mention was made of an audio device and ultimately the French police apparently gave consent for a tracking device to being installed.
It could be said that this is a key paragraph. It sets out the extent, or at least the extent to which it is known and admitted, that the Jersey law Officers encouraged and supported the actions of the three officers.
These paragraphs are evidential and factual, but entertaining nevertheless. They deal with the allegation that Sergeant Courtness lied to the French authorities during the installation of a device in the hire car in France. The Presiding Officer points out, rather dryly, that Courtness did not speak French, the French Officers did not speak English and in any event during the relevant activity, Courtness did not speak at all. Not much of a case against Courtness you might think? Well apparently it was thought good enough to merit the trouble and expenditure of disciplinary action. Exactly who authorised and pursued this charge has not emerged with any certainty at the time of writing.
In paragraph 23 we are given a reminder that this whole business has not been a mere academic exercise. The time, the pressure and the strain of this disciplinary action has taken a human toll. Such things often do. Those initiating matters of this nature need to bear this aspect in mind.
This paragraph raises an interesting issue regarding the apparent unavailability of signed witness statements taken during the disciplinary enquiry. From what we are told in the document setting out the findings of the Tribunal, it appears that typed but unsigned witness statements were put before the hearing. It then appears that in giving evidence one or more witnesses disputed the contents of the statements. In order to resolve this issue the original signed versions were asked for and were not available. This paragraph in the Tribunals findings is carefully composed, but there is a subtle implication that the content of statements may have been tampered with between the original signing of the statement and the typed version being put to the hearing. Only a further investigation could resolve this matter.
It is not often that a disciplinary hearing ends with a recommendation that the accused officers be commended for their actions. This is another rare and interesting aspect of this case.
This is a seemingly routine paragraph but nevertheless one with an important message. It tells us that the allegations have not been proved. And it is a reminder for anyone thinking of embarking on disciplinary action of this nature. The making of accusations is easy, saying that “something should be done” is easy, assembling evidence to prove matters before a hearing and in the face of a robust defence is a harder task. Minty, Beghin and Courtness did not have to prove their innocence. Their accusers had to prove their guilt, and failed to do so at great public expense.End
Again it has come to the Jersey Bloggers to bring you the evidence. The question that must be asked is why isn't this being leaked to the Jersey Mainstream Media?