High-Profile Victims of “Police Corruption, Incompetence and Malpractice” Join Forces

From Stephen Wright in the Daily Mail:

A landmark panel of victims of police corruption, incompetence and malpractice today call for the head of Cressida Dick.

In a bombshell open letter to Boris Johnson, they said the disaster-prone Met commissioner should not be handed a two-year contract extension as expected.

Led by Stephen Lawrence’s trailblazing mother, Baroness Lawrence, and Lady Brittan, widow of Tory home secretary Leon Brittan, the signatories all give Dame Cressida a resounding vote of no confidence.

They also demand an overhaul of the Met’s senior team, ‘urgent and long overdue’ reform of the police complaints system and a shake-up of the ‘unfit for purpose’ Independent Office for Police Conduct.

…The group of seven influential figures includes the son of D-Day hero Lord Bramall, BBC broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, the brother of axe murder victim Daniel Morgan, Edward Heath’s biographer Michael McManus and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor.

The group was brought together by the paper, and the article includes an extraordinary group photograph that encapsulate the two most serious aspects of police malpractice: persecution of the innocent, and failure to bring the guilty to account.

Leon Brittan, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor were famously victimised when the Metropolitan Police declared that outlandish claims by the false accuser Carl Beech were “credible and true” – Beech also accused the late Edward Heath, which explains McManus’s participation. Paul Gambaccini, meanwhile, was one of several innocent celebrities caught up in Operation Yewtree – I previously discussed a 2015 event where he appeared alongside the innocent one-time murder suspect Christopher Jefferies, in a post where I specifically highlighted the relevance of their experiences for the Harvey Proctor case.

Police failings as regards the murders of Stephen Lawrence and Daniel Morgan of course go back to the 1990s and 1980s, but Doreen Lawrence has argued that there are still lines of enquiry to be pursued and Alastair Morgan has had to overcome one police obstruction after another.

I expect that some people who are sympathetic to the cause will be put off simply by the fact that the group has been brought together by the Daily Mail. Indeed, some of those who attended the meeting might have had misgivings. Early reports (not by Wright) during Operation Midland were credulous and sensationalising, and the Mail‘s sister paper the Mail on Sunday ran several articles uncritically amplifying Wiltshire Police’s ludicrous probe into Heath – the editor at the time was Geordie Greig, who now edits the Mail. The Mail has also run at least one story co-authored by a freelancer who is close to one of the Daniel Morgan murder suspects. In contrast, the Mail has been supportive of Doreen Lawrence for many years, in 1997 famously denouncing her son’s killers by name and daring them to sue for libel.

As the former associate Guardian editor Michael White noted in May, “We all reach our own compromises on media”. I’m frequently appalled by how stories are framed by Mail titles, but dud articles have to be pulled apart on an individual basis. A blanket dismissal that says “it’s in the Daily Mail, it can’t be true” is simply inadequate given the resources at the paper’s disposal. Stephen Wright appears to be doing a sterling job holding the Metropolitan Police to account, and anyone who is offered such a huge platform would be ill-advised to turn it down just because the paper is not to their taste.

There are, though, a couple of points I would add:

1. Although the campaigners are focused on the Metropolitan Police, the issues arising are of relevance to the public across the country. McManus refers to Wiltshire Police’s Operation Conifer, and Gambaccini’s experiences are comparable to those of Cliff Richard, who was persecuted by South Yorkshire Police. Bad practice is likely to be pervasive.

2. It should be remembered that for every high profile botched case involving the most serious crimes and allegations we can assume dozens of lesser cases, often with more ambiguous outcomes where journalists may be less inclined to take up the cause.

3 Responses

  1. Dear Richard, you echo my feelings precisely. All these wild “conspiracy” theories can not only damage the reputations of innocent people, but also damage interest in genuine evidenced institutional child abuse cover up cases, where police too often destroy evidence to protect the reputations of criminally acting authorities, councils etc. Millions of genuine victims have suffered this, from a disinterested Press, because our cases do not make a ‘big splash’ for the Press. The sad reality is when there is good journalism, there is checking, fact-finding, like a private detective, who can access authority-concealed evidence useful to the victim Survivor, as well as make an article. But the Press ignore us, because our cases are not the ‘big splash’ that accuse, rightly or wrongly, famous names. Child abuse is a miserable business, and cover ups of institutional cases, the ‘norm’ across the country. In 2017, HMIC identified 41 out of 43 police forces corrupt in child abuse. So where is the ‘big splash’ there, for the Press? What most want is some outlandish claim of satanic ritual abuse by famous names, not run of the mill cover up cases with plenty of evidence. Like my cases, I would add !! All in our collective have suffered police evidential corruption, perjury AND harassment. I have been threatened in writing with my “health” by an anonymous officer(s) for taking cases against their force to international courts. Can the victim get justice in the U.K. ? No way, same-force, self-investigation corrupt PSDs and IPCC to IOPC (under House of Lords Inquiry for fitness to practice) all lie and refuse to impartially investigate. From PCA, not fit, to IPCC (profoundly corrupt and scrapped) to IOPC that absorbed corrupt legally unqualified staff from the IPCC, and lies as well. They never get corrupt-officer, criminal accountability correct, when Lorraine Radford, NSPCC, identified eleven million U.K. abused children, and the cause is no rescues, and no deterrent justice. Perjury, evidential tampering and destruction, refusals to prosecute is all we get. Past and now. Even now I have been awarded compensation, the force lied again in March 2021, and in June 2021. They never mature against a long established culture of protect institutions and the victim can get stuffed. “Not in the national interest to prosecute” I was told, after being told I could medically prove I had been tortured. A senior ranked officer told me “Lindsay, don’t look too deeply, you only rise in the ranks if you accept corruption”. Restore faith in the police ?? Difficult. I’d rather trust a poisonous snake, at least it is quick, and doesn’t take two decades to compile what is now 30,000 documents of evidence against abuse police corruption !!

  2. The home secretary was correct not to be influenced by media pressure in reappointing Cressida Dick to her role.

  3. The Met in the past, until it was scrapped for being too efficient, used to have what was popularly called “The Ghost Squad” with no friends in police stations, and during its short tenure, caught over 370 corrupt officers. This principle should be re-introduced for the whole country, because there is no working criminal accountability against evidential corruption in the U.K. The IOPC, currently under House of Lords Inquiry into being unfit for purpose, and it had absorbed legally unqualified corrupt staff from the “profoundly corrupt” IPCC, when that was scrapped, now refuse complaints against police, unless there has been a death in custody. Joy of joys, all the IOPC do, is, occasionally send complainants’ evidence directly back to the force being complained about, for same-force, self-investigation, in PSDs that always lie to protect their friends and colleagues. So no real resolutions for victims, and no anti-corruption deterrence either. Dick has been a mess, a chaos, and the people who should be heard, are the victims and victims collectives and groups, not the media specifically. Dick should not have been re-appointed, because she does not take seriously, the wider issue of widespread denial of justice, that so many are victims of. The last word, HMIC 2017, identified child abuse corruption in 41 out of 43 regional forces. You cannot trust the police, because they are corrupt, and the reason is no deterrence, as a ranked senior whistle-blower told me “Lindsay, don’t look too deeply, you only rise in the ranks if you accept corruption”, and Dick is no exception to the cultural rule. She just denies the reality, so no change possible

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