Page last updated Wednesday 20th March 2013 at 1350hrs
Perjury is a statutory offence, as opposed to one of common law. In formal terms it is created by section 1(1) of the Perjury Act 1911 which reads like this:
(1) If any person lawfully sworn as a witness or as an interpreter in a judicial proceeding wilfully makes a statement material in that proceeding, which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true, he shall be guilty of perjury, and shall, on conviction thereof on indictment, be liable to …..imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine or to both such imprisonment and fine. (2) The expression “judicial proceeding” includes a proceeding before any court, tribunal, or person having by law power to hear, receive, and examine evidence on oath. (3) Where a statement made for the purposes of a judicial proceeding is not made before the tribunal itself, but is made on oath before a person authorised by law to administer an oath to the person who makes the statement, and to record or authenticate the statement, it shall, for the purposes of this section, be treated as having been made in a judicial proceeding.
You would, therefore, be entitled to think that West Yorkshire Police would hold anyone who broke this law to account: Whether they are members of the public, or officers in their own police force, and without fear or favour. Doubly so, if those police officers were part of the Professional Standards Department whose job it is to maintain high values and enforce discipline.
Not so, I’m afraid. We name detectives here who gave false evidence in a criminal trial at Bradford Crown Court and who have faced no sanction from West Yorkshire Police since. In fact the first, DC Karen Wade, whose conduct throughout the entire criminal case was reprehensible actually got a transfer to the National Police Improvement Agency. HH Judge Peter Benson stated in general terms about the case: ‘There was this very significant irregularity and impropriety at the root of the investigation. The process as a whole is tarnished.’ More specifically of Wade’s oral evidence the Judge said: ‘ I also found Detective Constable Wade’s evidence about this matter evasive on the issue of whether they viewed it (a DVD containing legally privileged material), or not’. That in itself, whilst unattractive for anyone having to rely on Wade’s integrity in the future, would be marginal in the context of a perjury allegation we have to look further into the material where it would be much more clear cut: False entries in a Policy Book, inconsistencies in PNB, false statements on Warrants and Data Protection requests. This is an officer who, in plain terms, cannot be trusted.
Wade has had a chequered career with West Yorkshire Police and took the Force to an Employment Tribunal concerning allegations that she had been sexually discriminated against. Again the Judge was not at all attracted to Wade’s evidence and readily preferred that of the other officers involved. More recently, Wade applied to return to West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit from her NPIA outpost but, unsurprisingly, failed the vetting process.
The second officer involved with perjury has a more straightforward case to answer. DS Penny Morley was rounded on by Judge Benson who said ‘It is impossible to point to any explicit prejudice arising in this case, but it is now an admitted fact that by December of last year a detective sergeant, who took a very active part in the conduct of the case, had read this proof of evidence. She took no steps to stop what she was doing when the nature of the document must have been clearly revealed to her, and inform the Crown Prosecution Service, or indeed Superintendent Bennett, it would seem, and it is clear that she was not being truthful when she said and claimed she did not realise that what she was looking was a legally privileged document’. In other words, Detective Sergeant Morley, you are a liar and it was that lie that essentially caused the collapse of a £500,000, three year investigation that involved 34 officers and police civilians in total.
But don’t worry DS Morley, your close friend and fellow Rogue Officer, Superintentent Stephen Bennett, will ride to your rescue. No loss of job, no restricted duties, no criminal investigation. No sanction at all, in fact. You can just keep lying in Court at will and West Yorkshire Police will cover up for you. Because, that is what the police do. All the time. As we have seen with another police officer perjuror and Rogue Officer, PS David Oldroyd whose case is covered in more detail here. Oldroyd’s reward for perjuring himself at Bradford Crown Court at the PC Danny Major assault trial was a promotion six weeks later.
Last for now, but certainly not least, is one of West Yorkshire Police’s most notorious Rogue Officers, PC Kevin Liston, who lied throughout his evidence to the jury in the same trial and effectively condemned an innocent man to prison. Liston’s reward was to be allowed to go an a one man crime rampage, virtually unchecked, for the succeeding six years.
In a sensational recent development news reaches uPSD that a serving police officer has committed perjury in a criminal trial. We will publish further details as soon as the matter ceases to be sub-judice.
So, where does West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson stand on this issue? Well, as a proven liar himself and with his flag-waving election pronouncements of “There is no corruption in West Yorkshire Police” he is hardly a man with the will – or the wherewithal – to drive these types of officers out of the Force.
Indeed, Burns-Williamson also has an unattractive band of liars and issue-dodgers working around him in WYOPCC that starts at the very top with his own Chief Executive, Fraser Sampson and extends down through the ranks to such as Julie Reid, Elaine Shinkfield and June Causer.