On Friday 30th November 2016, out of the blue, I received an email from my sergeant . ‘Richard, We both need to go and see Det Insp Taylor on Monday at 10am, he wants some clarification over some points of the South Herefordshire Hunt investigation. I don’t know the specifics I’m afraid. I am away until Monday so will assume you will make your own way there unless I hear differently’?
Now any officer will know, if you are required to attend a meeting with your supervisor, that’s not normally good news! I thought I’d try to find out what it was about. I’d ask the man himself.
‘Inspector Taylor, I have just seen this email from my sergeant. Could you let me know the points that need clarifying so that I can prepare myself for the meeting’?
DI Taylor responded, ‘Hi Richard. This relates to the issues we have come up against regarding third party disclosure. Unfortunately they are far too complicated to send by email as they link to various other statements / documents which you will need to be sighted on. When you get here Monday I will talk you and your sergeant through what I need from the both of you on the day’.
Mmmmm, smelling something fishy here!!
On the morning of Saturday 3rd December I was at home with my wife, Jane. I received a text message from a friend who asked me if I was alright. Curious, I replied that I was fine, why were they asking? The friend then said they had heard a rumour that I had been having an affair and that Jane had kicked me out! Immediately realising what was happening I asked if this ‘rumour’ had come from someone connected to the hunting community. My friend confirmed that it had!!!
Someone or some people were up to their dirty tricks again. And it should have been obvious to anyone with half a brain, why. (Shouldn’t it)?
I decided to phone Paul HALE, one of the joint Masters. I had known Paul for several years both through work and through a mutual friend, (although I didn’t know he had anything to do with hunting until I commenced this investigation). He confirmed that he had been informed of the same and that it had been brought up and discussed at a hunt meeting the previous week. He gave me the name of a hunt monitor with whom I was supposed to be having the affair. It was the same name as had been rumoured years previously after I’d arrested the master huntsman of the Ross Harriers. Paul said that the meeting was told that it had been for this reason that I had been removed from the investigation.
At work later that day I went to see DC Cleeton and told him what had happened. He assured me that he had no knowledge of this rumour. (I assumed he was lying because he couldn’t /wouldn’t look at me when he said this).
I sent the following email to Superintendent Sue Thomas…..
So, I guessed from this that this maybe what the ‘meeting’ on Monday would be about. Although upsetting, especially for Jane, hearing that the rumour was widespread in the community, it was an unfortunate occupational hazard , especially when you lived in the same community in which you worked. But I’m sure CID would try to get to the bottom of it!!!
On the morning of Monday 5th December I attended CID at Hereford Police Station. I met with my sergeant. We went into a small office along with DI Taylor and DS Wells. DI Taylor sat behind a desk in front of me, my sergeant sat beside me and DS Wells stood behind me. It was already getting quite oppressive!
DI Taylor then place the following list of 10 questions in front of me on the desk. ____________________________________________________________________
Relationship with Andy (HIT)
- Have you or are you having an affair with ‘Andy (HIT)’; if no then confirm it in an email and if yes then it needs to go in the MG11. (Statement)
- When did you first meet ‘Andy’ – MG11
- When did you first know about the cameras – MG11
- When did you first know about the tracking device – MG11
- Have you advised or directed the investigation conducted by ‘Andy’ – MG11 Statement states first met ‘Andy’ at 1430hrs on 28th May 2016 RSPCA Chief Inspector states that on 27th May 2016 he spoke with ‘Andy’ regarding an ongoing investigation she was undertaking at an undisclosed hunt kennels where they had found live fox cubs being kept in a cage. She confirmed she already had a contact in the police. ‘Andy’ then rang him back at 0900hrs on 28th May 2016 informing him they had evidence of an offence in the form of video footage. At that point she also told him the police contact was PC Barradale-Smith. ‘Another HIT member’ has informed Beth Wells that the cameras were in situ over a period of weeks and during this time ‘Andy’ was talking to the RSPCA ‘and maybe Richard as well’. In addition to this during the later part of September 2016 Intel received that ‘Andy’ was having an affair with a police officer. Disclosing Evidence
- When / where / why and to whom did you show the Master of the South Herefordshire Hunt the DVD of the offence – MG11
- When / where / why and to whom did you sow the Master of the South Herefordshire Hunt the post mortem report – MG11 During the week commencing the 15th August 2016 several search warrants were executed at addresses of Hunt Masters, suspects in this investigation. During the subsequent interviews under caution it became apparent that PC Barradale-Smith, prior to the investigation being handed over to the CID, shared key police evidence i.e. video footage from the kennels and the Post Mortem report, with some of those persons interviewed. Compilation of DVD
- Did you compile the DVD with ‘members of the HIT’, if so when / where / why – MG11 On 21st September 2016 ‘Andy’ emailed D.Insp Taylor the below request; I am just following up on the SD cards belonging to the HIT which I understand West Mercia Police were going to copy and return the originals to us. They do represent a substantial cost and we would like to retain the cards if possible. We have reviewed most of the data on these cards, however the original case was put together with the footage which we and the police considered to be relevant. We subsequently handed over all the unused material in anticipation of the defence requesting full disclosure. This material has been scanned but not studied thoroughly as it represents hours and hours of film of blades of grass moving etc. However, I think it would need to be reviewed properly before handing over to the defence. I presumed you had possession of these cards but I understand from Richard that he still has them. Special Branch
- When and how did you know that the Special Branch officers were going to be at Nathan Parry’s address when you arrested him – MG11 Whilst DS Wells was speaking to PC Barradale-Smith, he disclosed the fact he knew the Special Branch officers were going to be there and when asked how he stated he could not recall. Yet the only person who knew they were going were the two SB Officers following being contacted by the Gwent Police Constable. Exhibits
- When / why did you open the exhibit bags containing the SD cards – MG11 Tasked with taking the SD cards etc to Imaging at HQ to convert them into a viewable format. The exhibits, AA/1 through to AA/12 were present at Ross-on-Wye Police Station when PSI ‘Brown’ went to collect them on 22nd September 2016. The exhibits were all present and originally packed in evidence bags with the labels filled out and signed by PC Barradale-Smith. However, the original bags had been opened then the bag and items placed within another clear bag and a new tag attached. The tag numbers have been updated on the (electronic) Property Management System though there is no rationale as to why they had been opened. There were no exhibit labels attached to the secondary packaging. This resulted in a clear break in the continuity of the exhibits. However, none of these actions are recorded in PC Barradale-Smith’s statement. _________________________________________________________________
As I read the questions I could not believe what had been placed in front of me. I was stunned. It immediately became apparent that this was not a ‘meeting’ and was clearly an interview. It was an ambush of the most unprofessional kind.
I was told that i had to answer the list of questions and that I couldn’t leave the police station until I had!!
If they wanted to deal with me in this way, I should have been cautioned and entitled to legal representation along with having advice and representation from the Police Federation.
This was beyond doubt, completely unlawful.
Chapter 15 will cover what happened next.