Saturday 26 January 2013
Curtis Warren--- Car Bugging ? Questions Without Answers???
States Question Time has become known as Questions without Answers simply because Ministers are able to get away without giving full answers. No doubt there will be a recurrence next week. There are a total of six questions relating to Curtis Warren and are published below along with my comments.
There are three Written Questions;
Deputy Tadier has lodged the following written question about the discipline case which requires an answer from the Minister of Home Affairs.
“Will the Minister give a breakdown of the total cost to his Department in respect of the disciplinary action against three of the officers involved with the importation of illegal drugs in 2007, as follows –
(a) The cost of the criminal investigation by Hampshire Police and their associated legal costs?
(b) The States’ police’s legal costs preceding the disciplinary Hearing?
(c) The cost of the disciplinary hearing including the legal advice for the Presiding Officer?
(d) The travel and accommodation cost for the various officers attending the disciplinary Hearing and advise from which budget the funding is coming from.
Readers will recall that via an Oral Question at the last States Sitting, the Home Affairs Minister stated that the cost to date was £217,674. I believe that figure is very conservative which requires a breakdown of the expenditure to date. However how do you calculate the human cost of suspending one officer, another ending up in intensive care and putting the third officer through a disciplinary hearing about things he is supposed to have done five years previously only to have all allegations against him thrown out."
Deputy Mike Higgins has two Written Questions his first to the Attorney General is as follows;
“Will Her Majesty’s Attorney General explain to members the various checks and balances that apply to the Law Officers and the Law Officers Department and explain how and in what way the department is accountable to the States of Jersey Assembly?”
Readers will note that questions regarding the accountability of the Crown Officers have been raised in my Blogs and it will be interesting to see what answer is given.
Deputy Higgins' second question is to the Home Affairs Minister and is also most opportune,
“Will the Minister explain the apparent contradiction between the Supreme Court’s criticism of the actions of the three police officers involved in the recent Curtis Warren bugging case and their exoneration by the Disciplinary Panel? Is the Minister satisfied that the public retains faith in our police force and the judiciary?”
It is evident that at the Disciplinary Hearing some new evidence must have come to light which led the Chief Constable exonerating the officers. The public and certainly the three officers are entitled to a full explanation, anything less is totally unacceptable.
There are 3 Oral Questions the first by Deputy Monty Tadier is;
“Given the criticism of States Police and a Lawyer in the Law Officers’ Department by the Privy Council in relation to the Curtis Warren prosecution and the alleged involvement of the Attorney General in the subsequent police disciplinary case, would the Attorney General make a statement clarifying the situation?”
Although this question is akin to one being asked of the Home Affairs Minister it is important to note that the Hants Police investigated the role of 3 police officers but apparently the lawyer’s role has not been the subject of any enquiry. Also given the allegations that it was the AG who instigated the Disciplinary actions, the public is entitled to a full explanation and if the AG was not responsible who was?
Deputy Roy Le Hérissier will be asking the following question of the Minister for Home Affairs –
“Given the verdict of the Police Disciplinary Tribunal, is the Minister satisfied that the police acted with complete authority in the matter of bugging a vehicle in the case Re Curtis Warren?”
Readers who have been following the case will recall that my Blog published on 17th October contained the 2009 Royal Court Judgement. In paragraph 18 one will see that the advice given to the police officers by the Crown Advocate was in the opinion of the Court “honest and well intentioned.” The Crown Advocate’s advice was; he didn’t see a Jersey Court ruling any evidence which was obtained inadmissible, it would be a matter for the Court to decide. it was an operational decision for the officers to decide. He added “If it was me I’d go ahead and do it, but don’t quote me on that.”
No doubt the officers shared the Court’s view that they were given honest and well intentioned advice and took it. The Crown Officer was correct with his assertion that it was for the Court to determine whether the evidence obtained was inadmissible. In fact not only did the Jersey Royal Court accept the evidence but also the Privy Council which then strongly criticised the officers’ action, how bizarre.
The third Oral Question is being asked by Deputy Mike Higgins who will ask the following question of the Minister for Home Affairs –
“Due to the important public interest issues involved will the Minister publish the written decision of the disciplinary tribunal involving the three police officers involved in the Curtis Warren car bugging case, and if not why not? And if so when?
It is likely that the Minister will refuse to publish the Judgement claiming that it is an internal disciplinary matter and/or like the Wiltshire Police Report it is a confidential report. However the Wiltshire Report was put into the public domain by none other than the same Minister, What’s the difference? I am sure that the 3 officers would be delighted if the Report was released.
The Jersey Way Blog has been doing an excellent job in publishing audio recordings of the Oral Questions and I am sure that next Tuesday's will be on its Blog site that evening.