Following the ‘interview’ at Hereford Police Station, I went home still in a mixture of shock and rage. I explained to my wife, Jane, what had happened. She was, completely understandably, anxious and confused. Surely, a senior detective would not be asking these questions unless there was some credible information or evidence behind it? Was I telling her the whole truth? She had always trusted that police officers would do their jobs fairly and honestly. Why was this happening? It was incredibly stressful.
On the following day I was at work when I was contacted by another friend, who had heard the same rumour about the affair and me being kicked out by Jane. He, again said the information was widespread in the community. I went to see my sergeant and informed him that I was going to commence grievance proceedings in respect of what had happened and the way in which it had happened. From the day I had challenged the CPS prosecutor, Stephen Davies, things for me changed. I was taken off the case, but remained professional and dignified. My only interest was in keeping my promise to the HIT that the investigation would be fair and impartial and that I would do my best to secure all evidence so that a prosecution would follow. It was becoming evident that, for whatever reason, the focus of the investigation had moved away from the suspects and was a now concentrating on the people reporting the offence and myself. I felt that I had to try to address this at a more senior level!
I couldn’t understand why DI Taylor would not want to investigate the allegation of the affair as this clearly had the intent and potential to undermine the prosecution case.
I decided to report a crime of harassment against Jane and I and my then, new inspector initially told me, ‘we don’t crime gossip’……………………… Having come down off the ceiling some time later I made it clear that if it was being taken seriously enough to interview me about it, then it was serious enough to report as a crime. She clearly didn’t want to, but at my insistence the inspector had the crime recorded. She wrote, …………… ‘You are the victim and Jane is a witness, as I believe the ‘gossip’ is targeted at you’.
A local Police Sergeant was allocated to investigate my report of harassment.
On Monday 12/12/16 The Ross Gazette, a local newspaper had received an anonymous letter about the alleged affair between myself and one of the local hunt monitors.
The letter was not published.
SOUTH HEREFORDSHIRE HUNT
Dear Sir/ Madam, You reported on alleged animal cruelty crimes involving employees of the South Herefordshire Hunt earlier this year. The individuals concerned are yet to be charged and it appears that this may be because West Mercia Police are having internal difficulties regarding any prosecution. It is understood that hunt saboteur and animal rights activist, (Then gives both name and an address of the hunt monitor), is in a romantic relationship with PC 223202 Richard Barradale-Smith of Ross-on-Wye police station. (Names hunt monitor) is a member of the Hunt Investigation Team and Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs and was involved in the placement of vehicle trackers and hidden cameras at the kennels. This illicit relationship between a hunt saboteur and the original investigating officer means the investigation is doomed to fail as it is tainted by police romantic involvement with an interested party. This could be said to be police corruption. It is also entirely plausible that the police officer concerned was aware of the covert investigation and the existence of the fox cubs prior to their demise at the kennels…and did nothing. It is understood that PC Barradale-Smith has been replaced by West Mercia CID as the investigating officer for the animal cruelty investigation, presumably because the police discovered their own officer was romantically involved with (names hunt monitor). To ensure fair reporting, you should know of this matter. ____________________________________________________________________
So, this very same subject having been ‘brought up’ at a hunt meeting a few weeks earlier had now been given to the press anonymously. Is there anything that they wouldn’t stop at? Did the hunt want the case to be dropped, even though the evidence of the animal cruelty was clear? Where was their integrity in evidencing what they were saying about me? Many of the people present at this meeting were so called professional, upstanding members of the community and yet it would appear that they were quite willing to band around un-evidenced gossip, presumably realising the devastating effect and consequences that this was likely to have on my family and I, along with the named hunt monitor. They evidently didn’t care and would stop at nothing, ‘in the name of hunting’. Had they no shame? The dirty tricks campaign had reached a new all time low. But the gossip didn’t just spring out of nowhere. Who did it come from?
Even more worrying was that the CID officers in the case and The CPS, (as you will see later) had been taken in by it. I didn’t find out about this letter until the 15th December. I contacted the sergeant who was dealing with my crime of harassment and he had no knowledge about the letter sent to The Ross Gazette. He then spoke to the Chief Inspector to inform him of it. Evidently, the Chief Inspector and the CID officers were already aware of it, but hadn’t told the sergeant!! Why was that? It looked as if the sergeant was going to have to investigate the harassment with his hands tied behind his back!!
On 13th December 2016, I completed my Grievance Resolution Form. I raised concerns about the unlawful interview and the way I had been treated. I also raised my public interest concerns about the CPS Prosecutor, Stephen Davies. Questions I asked were……….
1. Who completed / compiled Document 7? (The list of 10 questions put in front of me by DI Taylor). 2. Why could the information on Document 7 not have been given to me when requested in my email on 02/12/16? I was not being investigated for any disciplinary matters. 3. Why have I not received a reply to my email to Superintendent Thomas dated 04/12/16? 4. What information / evidence did / does West Mercia Police hold about me to suggest that I was somehow involved in the ‘Hunt Investigation Team’ and their investigation? When did this evidence / information come to light? To what extent and how intrusive has the evidence gathering about me been? Could I have been spoken to about this at an earlier stage? 5. Why was I not required to attend the CIMM meeting in November having originally been invited? 6. Was the information / intelligence about me possibly being involved in the ‘Hunt Investigation Team’ the reason for me not given the PLO role in Operation Themis? 7. What was the reason for me being taken off the Operation Childer investigation when I had the greatest knowledge of the crime? 8. What is the evidence of me having an affair with ‘Andy’? 9. Why did I have to confirm in an email that I was not having an affair with ‘Andy’? 10. Is Stephen DAVIES best placed at making a decision on prosecuting this case in light of what he has said on 25/07/16? I summed up the grievance by saying…….. ‘I am a proud police officer with nearly 28 years service. DI TAYLOR gave reasons for me being removed from this investigation, including reputation management and the national issues which could arise. I would suggest that if the people we serve were to learn that as an organisation we conduct any investigation with prejudice and discrimination, this would indeed damage the reputation of our police service’.
And so………..what do you think the police did next?