Page last updated Thursday 21st March 2013 at 1230hrs
The Operation Douglas case has attracted huge publicity in the early part of 2013 following a major Yorkshire Post probe by investigative journalist, Rob Waugh. It features revelation upon shocking revelation about sustained top-down corruption in West Yorkshire Police following their grotesquely unlawful use of the supergrass, Karl Chapman.
Lord Brown observed of West Yorkshire Police: ‘To describe police misconduct on this scale merely as shocking and disgraceful is to understate the gravity of its impact on the prosecution process. It is hard to imagine a worse case of sustained prosecutorial dishonesty designed to secure and hold a conviction at all costs.’ He added that a large number of officers, including ‘several of very high rank’, were engaged in a ‘prolonged, persistent and pervasive conspiracy to pervert the course of justice’.
Part of the fall-out from that case has been the unfolding of the unsafe conviction of Danny Mansell who was cleared in 2009 of murdering 85 year old Joe Smales in Stanley near Wakefield in June 1996 and the connected case of Gary Ford, who had the majority of his convictions for robbery and burglary quashed as part of the same process. Joe’s brother, Bert, was also badly injured in the attack during which £7,000 was stolen. Mansell’s brother confessed to the murder in
West Yorkshire precept payers are now facing a massive damages and legal bill for the shocking misconduct of West Yorkshire Police officers which led to these convictions. Solicitors acting on behalf of Danny Mansell and Gary Ford have launched civil claims after their clients spent a total of 27 years in prison on the basis of tainted evidence procured by detectives investigating the murder of Joe Smales. The claims are expected to top £500,000 for the two men, with legal fees for all parties adding a similar amount to the final sum if the civil matters go to trial.
Danny Mansell’s solicitor, North London-based Matthew Gold, is also set to formally challenge the Crown Prosecution Service, via Judicial Review if necessary, of its decision not to prosecute any police officers in the face of the damning Supreme Court judgment in July 2011 in which five Law Lords plainly stated that senior West Yorkshire Police officers had committed serious crimes.
Susie Labinjoh, head of the Civil Liberties team at Hodge Jones & Allen LLP of Euston in London, is the solicitor representing Gary Ford. She has confirmed that a civil claim for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office had been formally served on West Yorkshire Police. She has also made a formal complaint to the Force about the officers’ conduct in the murder investigation.
Hapless Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, or to be more precise master string-puller Fraser Sampson, has refused any entreaty to comment or explain why it is ‘in the public interest’ not to disclose the findings of a recent IPCC supervised internal inquiry into the failings highlighted by the Supreme Court in 2011. His stance makes it almost certain that the matter will now be raised with the Home Secretary and in Parliament.
Soon to retire Temporary Chief Constable, John Parkinson, declared that ‘lessons had been learned’ and that he was ‘content‘ with the outcome in which no West Yorkshire Police officer of any rank has faced charges in one of the worst police corruption cases in living memory. He would be, since he was a high-flying detective during the entire period the wholesale corruption occured and in post when the subsequent criminal and misconduct inquiries took place.