The latest from my regular contributor.
Home Secretary Theresa May, in her statement to the House of Commons on the publication of 'The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review' (Ellison Review) said
Home Secretary Theresa May, in her statement to the House of Commons on the publication of 'The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review' (Ellison Review) said
On corruption, Ellison finds that specific allegations of corruption were made against one of the officers who had worked on the investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, Detective Sergeant John Davidson. The allegations were made by a police officer to his superiors, but were not brought to the attention of Macpherson...Ellison also refers to possible links between an allegedly corrupt officer involved in the Stephen Lawrence case, Detective Sergeant Davidson, and the investigation into the murder of Daniel Morgan. Ellison finds that the Daniel Morgan panel may therefore uncover material relevant to the question of corruption, and so it is key that the Daniel Morgan panel continues its important work.May was consciously aware that some of the points she had to make could only be made by her under Parliamentary privilege. This was made clear by her Lords' counterpart, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, when he said in the parallel House of Lords debate (addressing Lady Lawrence, Stephen's mother)
I apologise that we were not able to give the noble Baroness advance notice of this Statement. As she probably is aware, the Statement needed parliamentary privilege to be made public because of its content. I hope that noble Lords will understand that that was the right choice to make because we felt that this was a truly important opportunity to put into the public domain matters about which we believe the public should know.Caution is needed regarding some of the press reporting. For example, the Telegraph reported, "Mrs May has asked the NCA to investigate the allegations of corruption thrown up by the Ellison review." (here)
This is not accurate. May's actual words were
Ellison finds that there remain some outstanding lines of inquiry which could be investigated both in relation to alleged corruption by a specific officer and possibly other officers. This is of the utmost seriousness. I have asked the Director-General of the National Crime Agency (NCA) to consider quickly how best an investigation can be taken forward into this aspect of Mr Ellison’s findings and report back to me.May has not directed the NCA to investigate, she has asked 'HOW BEST' an investigation can be taken forward - a key difference. There is no necessary corollary that the NCA (the agency previously known as SOCA, the Serious Organised Crime Agency) will itself be tasked with the investigation. Indeed, it could be argued that the NCA a.k.a. SOCA may lack the requisite objectivity for this specific enquiry. (for background, see here)
In fact, May will find the NCA ready to play hardball in resisting any such suggestion. Within hours of May's statement in the House of Commons, a somewhat curt response was placed on an obscure page of the NCA web site (here)
Ellison reviewSo that's the Home Secretary told then.
6 March 2014
The Home Secretary has today asked NCA Director General Keith Bristow for advice on pursuing outstanding lines of enquiry arising from Mark Ellison's report. The Director General has asked Gordon Meldrum, Director of the NCA's Organised Crime Command, supported by a small team of specialists, to consider the report. The Director General will respond to the Home Secretary when he has taken a view. At this stage the Director General is providing advice, not undertaking an investigation. It is too early to say whether there will be any investigation and, if so, what form that investigation would take. The NCA is operationally independent and it is for the Director General to decide which operations it leads.
OPERATION OTHONA - THE DARK SIDE
From 1993 till at least 1998 a multi-million pound anti-corruption initiative was undertaken by the MET, called Operation Othona It gathered intelligence on corruption "in particular in some of the specialist squads, where apparently successful officers were in fact out of control and acting corruptly in organised groups with criminals.Those criminals were also often their informants.The officers were recycling drugs or other property seized as a result of the informant’s information back to the informant to sell, and then sharing the proceeds. Corrupt officers were providing police information, or ‘losing’ evidence for payment." (p10 here).
On requesting the Othona intelligence in July 2013, Ellison was informed that none of the extensive intelligence could be located, save a single A4 ring binder found at Scotland Yard. The file is called 'The Dark Side of the Moon – Everyone knows it is there but not many can see it’. (here)
It lists examples of corruption intelligence, including unauthorised Police National Computer checks (PNC), providing criminals with details of police operations and documents, 'losing' evidence, offering protection from arrest and prosecution, and conspiring with criminals and informants in serious criminality. As such, the 'Dark Side' file comprises a mere generalising precis based on a huge volume of intel assessments
There are also documents in the briefing file that describe how steps were taken to ensure that every possible source of existing intelligence was gathered into the intelligence cell.Those that we have spoken to have confirmed that this would have included relevant informant files, as well as arrangements being made to share intelligence held by a range of other agencies.All of the detailed Othona intelligence documents are missing.
Roy Clark, who headed Othona from 1995 till his retirement in 2001, expressed surprise to Ellison, "I'd be shocked if it doesn't exist... there would be no good reason to get rid of it... it was gold dust stuff. It was really gold dust... when I left it existed because there were still jobs sparking off of it." Clark had left "in the hands of Andy Hayman, Detective Superintendent Bob Quick, David Wood and John Yates."
Ellison continued,"We have very recently been informed that in 2003 there was ‘mass-shredding’ of the surviving hard copy reports generated by Operation Othona."
By 2003, Andy Hayman had left the MET for Norfolk Constabulary and Bob Quick was Deputy Chief Constable of Surrey Police. In 2003 John Yates had moved to a varied portfolio as Acting Commander, which included - curiously - "a small team known as the Special Enquiry Team (SET) which undertook some of the most sensitive investigations on behalf of the Commissioner [John Stevens]."
One individual though may be able to explain any rationale for the 'mass shredding' of Othona in 2003 - Hayman's successor in anti-corruption, Commander Shaun Sawyer. Sawyer is currently Chief Constable of Cornwall and Devon Constabulary.
Operation Othona intelligence would have covered police corruption in a wide range of investigations, not only the Stephen Lawrence murder. The Ellison Review, from the limited evidence available to it (partial copies of Othona documents found on an abandoned hard drive) was able to establish an enhanced suspicion that DS John Davidson was corrupt before and after his involvement in the Lawrence murder investigation and "the fact that a number of the officers who were/are under suspicion of corruption were connected to the Daniel Morgan murder investigation (on which DS Davidson was identified as having also possibly worked at some stage)." (p11-12 here)
The same day as the Ellison Review was published, BBC Newsnight's lead story was its obtaining of yet another set of suppressed intelligence not seen by Ellison which appear to confirm Det Sgt Davidson did work on the original Daniel Morgan murder investigation. These 'Morgan1 Investigation' documents seem to show Davidson was directing and allocating taskings to subordinate police officers for action. Each entry takes the form of
'Action Allocated to [REDACTED name] by DS Davidson', dated 1988
Before the end of the Macpherson Inquiry in 1999, the newly established Racial and Violent Crimes Task Force (CO24) commenced their 'Interim Analysis of Possible Corruption Issues, Stephen Lawrence Inquiry'. One focus for this intelligence analysis was John Davidson, following allegations of his corruption aired at the Macpherson hearings. "Intelligence exists within CIB3 [Complaints Investigations Bureau] and indicates Davidson’s previous involvement in a corrupt relationship with a registered informant." Further action identified as necessary by the CO24's Interim Analysis included cross-referencing data from Davidson's landline and pager, itemised billing and contact numbers etc to establish criminal connections. This developed intelligence gathering was coordinated by a CO24 Detective Chief Inspector, Craig Denholm. (pp138-9 here)
Craig Denholm, subsequently Surrey Police lead on the Operation Ruby investigation of the disappearance and murder of Milly Dowler, was more recently the subject of an Independent police Complaints Commission (IPCC) referral. Then Deputy Chief Constable of Surrey, Denholm was criticised by the IPCC for his assertions of ignorance of the hacking of Milly Dowler's mobile phone by the News of the World. "We also sought to recover all contemporaneous documents; however, not all of the material that could have been expected to be produced could be located", so the IPCC concluded,was insufficient evidence to find misconduct by Denholm. (here)
The Ellison Review has publicly flagged the lack of clear water between corruption tainting both the murders of Daniel Morgan and Stephen Lawrence. These muddy connections have been known for a long time, since the publication of The Untouchables, but Ellison has brought out into the light some of the forensic evidence. Most importantly, Ellison has not settled for anodyne MET assertions that no evidence exists. There is a range of sustained intelligence from the general to the particular - here are some examples.
- "report summarises the intelligence held on the IDG database relevant to ex-DS John Davidson prior to 27.7.06 as follows:“Intelligence suggests that Ex-DS John Davidson was a corrupt police officer..."
- "Intelligence report in which Davidson is referred to as a “corrupt police officer”, prepared by DC Dennis McGarthy and dated 4.8.06."
- "Intelligence report detailing an incident reported by DS L, when Davidson (who was by then retired) contacted the OCG and asked L to conduct a check at the Passport Office to identify the wife of a client."
- "Operation Russia - "Intelligence from the ‘Two Bridges’ investigation indicated that DS Davidson was in regular contact with Officers “R”, “F”, “G” and “K”." On Operation Russia, see here
- Operation Two Bridges was an investigation into Law and Commercial (previously Southern Investigations) and brought to light evidence re the planting of drugs on the wife of Simon James (a client) to ensure he won a custody battle for the couples son. Ultimately James (seven years) Jonathan Rees the PI (seven years) and Austin Warnes, serving MPS officer, (five years) were imprisoned for Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice.
- "Intelligence report prepared by DS Richard Oliver, dated 28.4.03, concerning Operation Abelard, with specific emphasis on John Davidson. It states that Davidson was attached to the initial investigation of the murder of Daniel Morgan in 1987.“DS Davidson has been investigated by this command (ACC) in the past and is known to associate with some of the subjects of not only Operation Abelard but also several other DPS investigations.”
Operations Abelard I (2002) and Abelard II (2006) were MET re-investigations of the murder of Daniel Morgan and related police corruption. As DS Oliver's intel report is dates 28th April 2003 it must refer to Operation Abelard I. This means the MET have had this intelligence since at least 2002. In June 2012 MET Commander Peter Spindler provided the Home Affairs Select Commitee (HASC) enquiry into Private Investigators with a precis of Abelard as (here)
The investigation into the murder of Daniel Morgan instigated after a review of the murder by the MPS Murder Review Group; no charges resulted from this first Abelard investigation. Operation Abelard II brought together material from the previous investigations and as a result, William Jonathan Rees, was amongst four men charged with murder. Mr Morgan had worked with Mr Rees in Southern Investigations. This prosecution failed in March 2011 owing to disclosure issues (the prosecution offering no evidence). A fifth man, serving MPS police officer Sidney Fillery, had also been charged with perverting the course of justice, it being alleged he had interfered with the investigation (this charge was stayed in February 2010). Fillery subsequently retired and became Rees’ partner in Southern Investigations. The corruption allegations surrounding the initial investigation led to the then PCA appointing Hampshire Police to investigate, however their report did not identify any corruption.
- "Intelligence report relating to SK who was under investigation for conducting Police National Computer (PNC) checks for John Davidson, believed to be working for Mayfare Associates at the time."
Mayfayre Associates was a private investigations company owned and run by two former MET detectives, Keith Hunter and Alec Leighton. For more on their circle of associations, see The Untouchables. Hunter's name cropped up in evidence to the same HASC enquiry into Private Investigators. Keith Hunter was named, under Parliamentary privilege when a witness alleged that Hunter and his company RISC Management were implicated in bribery and corruption of serving Metropolitan police officers and other public officials. Shortly after, Hunter was arrested.
Leighton's name has also been raised under Parliamentary privilege when Tom Watson MP asked James Murdoch (10th Nov 2011) if he knew if News International had ever employed private detectives Jonathan Rees, John Ross, Barry Beardall or Alec Leighton.
Ellison demonstrates the MET knew Leighton's Mayfayre Associates was allegedly employing John Davidson to obtain illegal PNC checks. But Mayfayre Associates was not Leighton's only private investigator business. He and his wife Pamela were directors of other companies, such as Charterhouse Investigations Limited. Whilst Alec has subsequently been a director of several companies without his wife, she has only held one directorship without him. This one company was owned by Pamela Lesle Leighton and one other director - William Jonathon Rees
THE DANIEL MORGAN PANEL
The Ellison Review highlights that the forthcoming Danel Morgan Panel Inquiry has a crucial and onerous role in identifying, locating, securing and examining further evidence of corruption plus potential links between the murders of Daniel Morgan and Stephen Lawrence. Fortunately, the Ellison review has proved strong enough - and determined enough - to reach its own conclusions on shared issues. The ability of the MET to cooperate transparently remains questionable, in the past and for future enquiries (p 12 here):
In early February 2014, we were informed by the MPS that there is no record of DS Davidson being involved in the investigation into the murder of Mr Morgan. It has been suggested to us that the intelligence analysis in which the suggested link was made is incorrect. We have some reservations about accepting this assertion, in the absence of further consideration of the material held by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel. In any event, a number of the officers involved in the Daniel Morgan investigation can be linked to DS Davidson.
We remain concerned that there is a real possibility that the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel may hold or acquire material of relevance to our review of the corruption issue.