Friday 18 January 2013
Curtis Warren---Still More to Come
I understand that the Judgement has now been presented to the States Police who have given copies to the three officers and their Advocate. I also understand the Judgement is for their eyes only and at this stage will not be made public. If this is the case it is not acceptable.
During Question Time at the States Sitting last Tuesday in answer to a question from Deputy Monty Tadier re the Curtis Warren costs, the Home Affairs Minister stated that to date it had cost the tax payer over £1m on the arrest and security plus another £217,674 on the disciplinary action taken against the 3 police officers. I hope that some States Member will lodge a written question not only asking for a breakdown of the police costs but also of the prosecution costs which according to the AG are around £2m and still mounting.
Over the past 5 years the words “in the public interests” have been banded about, the term is often used to justify questionable actions. The initial arrest, the decision to charge, the court Hearings and the decision to take disciplinary action against the 3 officers were apparently “in the public interest.”
Way back in the days when people were really accountable there was a general rule that “When in doubt, throw it out.” Alas this does not seem to be the case today because it is apparent that at every stage the authorities pushed the boundaries “in the public interest.” What is worth noting is that all the actions taken were by public servants and at considerable public expense. Therefore it is reasonable to expect that those responsible in the “Warren Affair” to be accountable for their actions. Also they have no right to assert that reports of any sort are of no concern to the public. Apart from being conflicted they have no right to say who can or can’t see the reports.
My Blogs along with the many Comments received have highlighted a number of anomalies and posed even more questions which have arisen because of contradictory statements made by a number of the leading players. For example in the States on Tuesday the Attorney General made it abundantly clear that he did not level any complaint nor participated in the police discipline case. He is entitled to make that claim and to be believed. However in the press release from the Advocate who successfully represented the 3 officers, one will see that he claims that it was the Attorney General who personally made the complaint of misconduct against the officers.
In fairness to both gentlemen we know that Curtis Warren and Co were arrested way back in 2007 when a different AG was in post, so was he responsible? It is certainly “in the public interest” to know where the truth lies.
On Tuesday the Home Affairs Minister stated that Hants Police were asked to investigate the police officers actions by the new Police Chief Mr Bowron, because as it turned out, he rightly anticipated that the officers would be heavily criticised by the Appeal Court. However it is reported that the Deputy Police Chief Officer Barry Taylor is quoted as saying that it was as a result of the concerns raised by the Privy Council that Hants Police were asked to investigate. So who is to be believed?
In attempting to justify the decision to level disciplinary action, the States Police have stated that it was important to have a clear, independent and transparent process to examine the concerns raised initially by the Privy Council so that the public of Jersey can continue to have trust and confidence in the States Police to do the right thing. Hear, hear we all say, but where is the transparency and where is the Judgement?
Confidence in the police is dependent on decisions taken by the ordinary coppers in the front line and sharp end of policing AND the decisions taken by officers sitting in the Ivory Towers at Police Headquarters who should be equally accountable for their actions. Policing is complex and even more so today so it is incumbent on senior police officers to set examples and to treat their officers with fairness, compassion and consistency. They appear to have failed in this particular case.
In Jersey the decision to prefer criminal charges is based on two tests, one is the evidential test and the other being the public interest test. The public is entitled to know who was responsible for the decision to instigate disciplinary action. Although the charges were not criminal had the officers been found guilty the outcome would have had serious consequences not only for themselves but for their families. Therefore who ever was responsible for instigating the action presumably conducted both tests and must have been reasonably confident of a successful outcome.
Unfortunately we now learn that the States Police has incurred over £200k of taxpayers money on a disciplinary case which according to the Defence Advocate was based on allegations which were ill-founded in fact and law and never had any reasonable prospect of success.
Apart from incurring unnecessary time, expense and untold hardship for 3 officers and their families, the disciplinary case has bankrupted the Police Association funds which needed a £10k handout from the public via the Home Affairs Minister to ensure that the 3 officers had equality of arms. Presumably because it was “in the public interest”
During Question Time last Tuesday Members were told that the prosecution costs to date are around £2million. In that sum is around £1m to cover legal assistance for Curtis Warren and his associates. It does seem ironic that the procedures in place for the 3 officers to defend them selves fell far short than those they arrested. For example whilst the Curtis Warren team was granted legal aid, there was no provision for the officers. Also there is no procedure in place for the Adjudicator to award any costs to the officers to meet their personal costs and suffering.
Curtis Warren and his associates must be amused at how events have evolved and how the credibility of those responsible for his conviction is suspect. Will it assist him in his endeavours to overturn his conviction, only time will tell?
I titled my last Blog “Own Goal—More to Come,” as we can see there is still more to come, but will we get the answers, see the Judgement and will anyone be accountable?