Detective Chief superintendent David Cook (left) was allegedly under surveillance by News of the World during an investigation into the murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan (right)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lynette White : Police Murder Corruption Trial Collapses

The defendants cleared today when the Lynette White corruption trial collapsed.
The defendants cleared today when the Lynette White corruption trial collapsed.

Lynette White corruption trial links

How the trial came about

All of our previous stories from the case

The Lynette White corruption trial - the largest trial of its kind in UK history - has collapsed.

The most expensive trial in the history of Wales' judicial system ended after the prosecution accepted that the case had been “fatally flawed” by the failure to maintain a system of evidence disclosure that was “fit for purpose".

The trial involving former police officers over a trial that resulted in the wrongful conviction of three men for the murder of Lynette White was abruptedly halted at Swansea Crown Court after five months of evidence.

All 10 defendants - eight former police officers and two civilians - have been declared not guilty on the direction of the judge Mr Justice Sweeney after it emerged earlier this week that crucial documents were not disclosed to the defence.

Other documents it emerged were destroyed.

Prosecutor Nicholas Dean said: "Deliberate destruction of documents by the senior investigating officer appears to have occurred.
 "It would be impossible for me to give reassurances that similar evidence has not been treated the same way.

"I can no longer continue to prosecute and recommend the jury bring in a not guilty verdict."

Swansea Crown Court heard that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, had taken the decision himself to offer no further evidence against the defendants.

Both he and the Chief Constable for South Wales Police, Peter Vaughan, have agreed there must be a full and detailed review of the circumstances, which will have the full support and cooperation of South Wales Police.
 The case, which relates to the murder of Cardiff prostitute Lynette White in 1988, was the most sensational in South Wales for many years.

The three men - Tony Paris, Yusef Abdullahi and Stephen Miller - had their convictions quashed in 1992 after the Court of Appeal said that police officers investigating the case had committed serious misconduct.

Many years later, following advances in DNA technogly, Jeffrey Gafoor was convicted of Ms White's murder.

The corruption trial, which began in July, followed a lengthy re-investigation of the case.

The seven-year re-investigation together with the trial itself will have cost millions of pounds - some estimates have put the cost at £10m.

But the cost to the public purse could rise again because it is understood the former officers plan to sue for wrongful arrest.

Judge Sweeney discharged the jury after the prosecution admitted evidence had been destroyed by police investigating their own former colleagues.

The judge said: "When a trial become irretrievably unfair it must stop.

"If the defence is not presented with the material when they should be a trial becomes unfair.

"That is why the disclosure process must be conducted with compete integrity."

He welcomed the police inquiry into the handling of their own case which collapsed after the marathon trial at Swansea Crown Court.

Judge Sweeney said: "It is vitally important that the review gets to the bottom of what went wrong and that in the course appropriate action is taken not least to ensure that there is not a repeat of this."

Eight retired officers – all accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and one accused of perjury – had been joined in the dock by two civilians accused of perjury.

The 10 cleared of all charges today were retired Chief Inspectors Thomas Page, 62, and Graham Mouncher, 59, retired superintendent Richard Powell, 58, retired detective sergeant Paul Stephen, 50, retired detective constables Michael Daniels, 62, Paul Jennings, 51, Peter Greenwood, 59, and John Seaford, 62; and civilians Violet Perriam and Ian Massey.

They had denied the charges.

The police officers were part of a team investigating the Valentine's Day murder of Miss White, 18, who was found dead with more then 70 stab wounds in Cardiff Bay.

The eight were accused of "fitting up" Lynette's boyfriend Mr Miller along with his friends Mr Abdullahi and Mr Paris, who became known as 'the Cardiff Three' more