10 Feb 2014

Cardiff five: detective ‘flabbergasted’ by corruption trial

A senior detective who led one of the country’s biggest ever police corruption inquiries said he was “completely flabbergasted” with the the decision to abandon the trial of eight officers in 2011.

The comments of former Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Coutts emerged at the start of a legal action against the Home Secretary’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into why the case collapsed.

The prosecution of South Wales police officers for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in the 1988 Lynette White murder inquiry was abandoned over issues surrounding disclosure and four missing files.

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But Theresa May rejected calls from those wrongly convicted of the prostitute’s murder for a public inquiry. She argued there had already been effective inquiries, there was no cover up, and no benefit would be gained by further investigation into a “small number of errors”.

At today’s hearing the most senior judge in England and wales, the Lord Chief Justice said he was “deeply troubled” with claims that the Independent Police Complaints Commission failed to carry out a proper investigation into why things went wrong and who was responsible.

The IPCC at the time simply focused on four missing files which were found several weeks after the trial had been abandoned, in the the corruption investigation’s own offices.

In his statement to that IPCC inquiry DCS Chris Coutts said; “I was completely flabbergasted (with the decision to abandon the trial) without any discussion with myself, the senior investigating officer.

“There seems to have been a rush to judgement without any proper search for the copy material or consultation. I do not know why this happened.”

Another officer told the IPCC at the time that he was “surprised and perplexed” with how the decision (to abandon the case) was presented in court.

“There appeared to be an urgency to get before the court with bad news, which I had not seen before” Lawyers for the miscarriage of justice victims argue the refusal to hold a public inquiry denies them the chance for justice. The case continues.

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