On Monday 25th July 2016 I attended Hereford Police Station for the meeting with Stephen Davies, a senior prosecutor for the CPS. Also in attendance was DI Taylor, DS Wells and DC Cleeton. At the beginning of the meeting, Stephen Davies said that what was discussed should not be talked about anywhere else, which confused me because this had not been a covert investigation. I asked what the issue was and Mr Davies replied, “Have you had any experience in dealing with these sort of people before”?
I replied, “What sort of people”? Mr Davies said, ” Animal rights people”.
He then went on to talk about the possible problems surrounding prosecuting the case due to the methods used to obtain the evidence. I could not believe that this ‘label’ had been attached to the HIT who had produced and reported this evidence. Mr Davies then went on to say that he shoots, (although I did not see the relevance), and that he had been investigating such cases for many years.
What was never explained is why the meeting needed to be confidential. These were essentially the victims that were being talked about. I immediately felt we were in danger of discriminating against them for no apparent reason. I had concerns that Mr Davies, the person heading the prosecution/ decision to prosecute this case would say and think such things. None of the other officers present challenged him for what he said. I did not think that it would be possible to investigate the crime impartially, if you had this mindset from the start.
He did not like me challenging him about this. I just couldn’t believe what he had said, in the animated way in which he said it.
On 02/11/09 Keir Starmer QC was the Director of Public Prosecutions. He wrote in the Statement of Ethical Principals for the Public Prosecutor…… ‘Public prosecutors and those external advocates briefed by them, uphold the rule of law and deliver justice for and on behalf of their communities. That function is central to the maintenance of a just, democratic and fair society.
The way in which we perform this role is of crucial importance. It has long been recognised that the prosecutor has a special and overriding responsibility to act without fear, favour or prejudice, in the interests of justice and to provide the cornerstone of an open and fair criminal justice system’.
‘The manner in which prosecutors discharge their powers and duties directly affects victims, witnesses and defendants as well as society as a whole. The behaviour of prosecutors also affects the ability of others in the criminal justice system the police and other investigators, the courts and defence practitioners, among others to fulfil their own responsibilities’.
The document goes on to say……….‘Professional Conduct in General’ When acting in the course of their employment or in accordance with their instructions, prosecutors must, at all times, adhere to the highest professional standards. This means that prosecutors must:
d. strive to be, and to be seen to be, consistent, independent, fair and impartial; g. respect the right of all people to be held equal before the law – prosecutors must never act in a way that unjustifiably favours or discriminates against particular individuals or interests.
Prosecutors must perform their duties without fear, favour or prejudice. They must:
a. take decisions based upon an impartial and professional assessment of the available evidence, independently and with objectivity within the framework laid down by the law,
Prosecutors must not knowingly participate in, or seek to influence, the making of a prosecution decision in regard to any case where their personal or financial interests or their family, social or other relationships would influence their conduct as a prosecutor. They should not act as a prosecutor or advise in cases in which they, their family or business associates have a personal, private or financial interest or association.
And it goes on…………..as does The Code for Crown Prosecutors.
So, my question is, ‘What was Mr Davies doing, getting involved in this case when he had a clear conflict of interest in shooting and why was he generalising about the victims in the case?
Indeed, why was he ever given the role of ‘Wildlife Crime Lead’ with the CPS? Am I missing something?
Unfortunately Stephen Davies’s conflicts of interest did not stop there which I will cover later on!!