Oral Answers to Questions — Metropolitan Police (Prosecutions)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5 April 2001.

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Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay Labour, Thurrock 12:00, 5 April 2001

How many prosecutions against Metropolitan police officers have been abandoned in the past four years (a) prior to opening in court and (b) during court proceedings; and how many prospective prosecutions are outstanding. [155711]

Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

The Crown Prosecution Service holds no central records on proceedings against police officers, or other particular categories of defendants. The information is held on individual case files, and could be retrieved only at disproportionate cost. In general terms, the CPS did not proceed in approximately 12 per cent. of cases last year. Where cases proceeded to a hearing, convictions were recorded in 98.3 per cent. of hearings in magistrates courts and 88.3 per cent. in the Crown court, involving about 1 million defendants.

Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay Labour, Thurrock

Following the jailing last Tuesday of police informer Geoffrey Brennan, who had accused my constituent, Detective Inspector John Redgrave—suspended since February 1997—of corruption, and given that those accusations were subsequently withdrawn and no evidence was produced against my constituent by Chief Superintendent John Coles of the Complaints Investigation Bureau, is it not time that my hon. and learned Friend and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary revisited the matter, which I raised in Westminster Hall on 31 October, in connection with the abysmal treatment of my constituent? The court case against Brennan reinforced what I said then about the scam by MI5 and the anti-terrorist squad's involvement in illicit or illegal gun running with Roger Crooks, who also supplied the helicopter to Sandline and is holed up in Mama Yoko hotel, Freetown? Will my hon. and learned Friend revisit the case, as there is a significant smell about the whole thing, yet my constituent, uncharged and uncomplained about in any practical sense, is still languishing on suspension at enormous public cost?

Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

I know that my hon. Friend raised the matter on another occasion. His constituent made complaints about the conduct of the police in the investigation, and I know that the police have conducted further investigations and that the papers are now with the CPS. They are being dealt with in a different CPS area, to remove any suggestion of a conflict of interest. As the investigation is continuing, I cannot say anything further about the specifics. I will keep my hon. Friend informed about the details.

Photo of Martin Smyth Martin Smyth UUP, Belfast South

One recognises that Caesar's wife must be above reproach, but is it not fair to police officers that they be treated in the same way as others? An investigation going on for such a long time does nothing for morale in any police service, and the media constantly denigrate police officers, who do an outstanding job under tremendous pressures.

Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

I certainly agree that the police do an outstanding job. However, when allegations are made about serious wrongdoing by the police, such as attempts to pervert the course of justice, they must be investigated. That is done under the auspices of the Police Complaints Authority.

Of course, the Crown Prosecution Service has a role in considering these matters. As I intimated to my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay), the mechanics are such that matters are taken outside an area or dealt with by more senior prosecutors, so that there can be no allegations that they have been got at in any way.