On 24th March 2017 Superintendent Susan Thomas replied to Jane’s email.
On 3rd April 2017 Chief Inspector Dean Jones attended my home address to meet with Jane and I. My ‘Fed rep1’ was also present. DS Husbands was supposed to also attend but didn’t turn up!
CI Jones started by saying that the absolute shame of all this is that it’s got you feeling the way you are. He said, what he really wanted to talk about is actually to try to give us some reassurance around, ‘you may have some concerns around how you perceived you’ve been dealt with’
He said he didn’t want to talk too much about the grievance or PSD side of it.
‘The trust that our job puts on all of our staff, You’ve been feeling a bit let down’. (Understatement of the year)!!!
I said that I was hoping DS Nick Husbands was going to be here. I wanted answers to my questions. I explained the events up to the interview on 05/12/16. I said it was an ambush. CI Jones said that he didn’t see it as an ambush but he could see how I might perceive it as such. He did say, in respect of the interview, ‘In my mind, that’s not the right way to go about it, and how you’ve been left feeling is the awful tragedy of this’.
CI Jones said that he thought some of this came down to personalities! He said that the questions that needed to be asked of me, he thought they could have been asked in a less formal and more sensitive way, but they did need to be asked.
He said that he knew that he would have done it differently, that we were all different and make mistakes along the way. He said that he thought Martin Taylor formalised it in a written response which was unfortunate. CI Jones said that in terms of formalising it in that way he thought DI TAYLOR probably ‘takes it from his previous role in professional standards’. He said that as far as he was aware Superintendent Sue Thomas was not made aware of how he was going to go about it and he didn’t think My Sergeant or DS Beth Wells was aware either. He said it was DI Taylor’s decision to conduct it in that way. He said that he could see how that very formalised way would make me feel bruised. He said that the questions needed to be answered but in a much more sensible, ‘humane’ way.
CI Jones said, ‘There is a way to deal with things. I just think that that’s the real unfortunate thing of this is that you feel as if you’ve been ambushed, because in terms of there being any agenda to ‘set upon you’ or deal with it in that way, absolutely not, it’s just what Martin Taylor had decided on that particular day. Could that have been done more sensibly, yes I think it could’.
Jane pointed out that in the grievance, Martin Taylor had written that in the same circumstances, He would do the same thing again.!!
CI Jones was asked why I was the only officer made to write in an email confirming I had not had an affair with ‘Andy’. He said, ‘In terms of Martin Taylor and Beth Wells and Nigel Cleeton, clearly they’ve been involved in the investigation to a point. However, in terms of, if we were to line up four people there, in terms of who was involved in that investigation, as I understand it, you’ve been involved in this area for many years. You have got an appropriate relationship with many people within the Hunt community and the anti-hunt community, so in terms of……there probably was an assumption here in terms of who would be……cause the ‘intelligence’ was unspecified, it was to say a police officer is having an affair with ‘Andy’.
I pointed out that the information didn’t even say it was a West Mercia Police Officer.
CI Jones continued, ‘ I know. It says a police officer. But in terms of, the fact that ‘Andy’ came to report it to yourself initially at Ross Police Station, I think that there was ………..an assessment of all of the information that was known, if it was anybody, it was most likely to be you’.
Jane said, ‘Oh, I don’t accept that whatsoever. I’m not happy with that’.
I pointed out that the only place I had met ‘Andy’ was at Ross Police Station. Martin Taylor had been for a coffee with her in Abergavenny.
CI Jones said that he did not think there was a need to ask Martin Taylor, Beth Wells or Nigel Cleeton the same question.
Fed rep 1 then spoke. He said, ‘If Richard had answered yes to some of those questions, we’d have potentially been looking at a criminal offence, irrespective of the way it’s been put’. ‘Some of that probably should have been dealt with formally, as in, he should have been served forms to answer certain questions’.
CI Jones said that in advance of me being question by DI TAYLOR, PSD had an advanced conversation with Martin Taylor, ‘what’s the appropriate way to deal with it’? He said that PSD didn’t actually think that it was something unduly, massively concerning but it needed to be dealt with and it was almost a case of, ‘have a word with Richard just to address these concerns’, and then that would deal with the disclosure issues. ‘The fact that then Martin went on to formalise it in that way is unfortunate’.
CI Jones went on to say……… ‘The key reason I want to speak to you is more around the impact that this has had upon you and your wife and your family. Clearly, there is no evidence at all in terms of you having an affair with anybody, and I’d just like to stand here and say that because, I’m sure, if that was in my home……in terms of giving you the reassurance from the police in terms of that investigation, there is absolutely no information around it whatsoever, other than it’s very spurious. ‘A police Officer is having and affair with Andy’.
I asked CI Jones where the information had come from.
He said, ‘The information that was forthcoming came from a police officer that had heard a community rumour basically. Now I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to disclose to you, who that police officer is’.
I said that we had never asked for that.
CI Jones continued, ‘ So that information came from a police officer who had heard from a member of the community out there, who was unwilling to cooperate further, engage further with the police’.
I said, ‘ when we investigate anything, you’ve got to be able to justify decisions that you’ve made, and I just can’t see any justification in making myself and Jane wait three months to say, actually, do you know what? It was an unnamed officer’. I said that we had to go through Christmas living with this. I said I could have been given the information about it being an unnamed officer at the end of the interview on 5th December!
CI Jones said, ‘I agree with you that you could have done, but in terms of them having a reason, I think there was a reason. I don’t think that actually sitting here in the cold light of day it actually stands out specific scrutiny, but we all make decisions along the way but sometimes we say, well actually we could have gone the other way with that’. ‘I’m almost second guessing but I think they can justify it in terms of their, this desire to do everything right by the investigation as it were and I think that was unwise now in terms of what we…but actually in terms of them making that, it wasn’t made maliciously because they wanted to cause you issues. It may have been the wrong decision now, some months down the line, because actually, what impact has that had upon your life, what impact has it had on other people thinking about an affair existing out there and all of that? I get that, and I’m saying now in the cold light of day, do I think we could, we should, I told you, as a service, told you that information sooner? Yes I do, but the decision they made at the time, I can understand why they made it, but I don’t agree with the decision’.
Later in the conversation, CI Jones said, ‘I can say I’m sorry now. I am sorry how you two have been left feeling. 100%, and I can also say, I’m sorry that Martin’s gone for that formalised approach because what that has done is then had this impact upon you. But I can’t apologise on behalf of Martin. But as a force, in terms of how you are feeling, then I can tell you on behalf of Dean Jones and the force, we are sorry’.
(Note he’s very good at saying that he’s sorry for the way this has left us feeling. That’s completely different from saying that he is sorry for what happened. Someone once said, ‘never ruin an apology with an excuse’, and that’s exactly what he was doing. How patronising can you get)?
I said, ‘It shouldn’t just leave me feeling like this, It should leave all of us feeling like this, to know that any one of us could be in this position, when there are procedures that should be followed and they’re not, that we need to say if this happens within the force, how do we help people out there’? (The public).
I said that I thought this was part of a bigger picture. At the initial point where I challenged what I considered to be an inappropriate comment made by the Crown Prosecutor, it seemed to me that it was at that point, well, the next day I was taken off the case and I feel it was because I had challenged what I considered to be inappropriate behaviour by the prosecutor. If you now follow that up with the information that I’ve found out about him being very close to some of those investigating officers, having Christmas dinner with Beth Wells, I think that we’ve got a real problem. If the public out there knew! From my point of view, from that moment when the Crown Prosecutor said that and no one else challenged him apart from me, there’s an issue that ‘these people’ are perceived to be the enemy and they’re not. They’re not. I hadn’t even considered it to be honest with you. I just thought, You’ve come to me with this evidence, you’ve used some pretty unorthodoxed methods of getting that evidence but that’s not for me, it’s for a court to decide whether or not……….
CI Jones interrupted, ‘In terms of the CPS‘s impartial decision making, I don’t particularly think that’s in dispute here. You’ve put a little bit of an inference on that. The fact that it will go to the special case unit means it is what it is. Stephen Davies, I’ve known for a number of years. I’ve got no reason to question his integrity. I think he took the hump with what you said. You took the hump with what he said. I think it was a delicate fall out from that, but in terms…the only advice I would say is in terms of when we’re having a conversation with whoever it is, ‘Andy’, police officers, whoever it is, is that we’re very careful. Because clearly he’s taken your side the wrong way, you’ve perhaps taken what he said, the wrong way. But actually, in terms of your integrity, I’ve sat and listened to you and heard your background and believe it’s absolutely fine. So’s his. It’s understanding where we are in the middle there a bit. I think it’s unfortunate that he’s gone and formalised that in terms of a PSD referral’.
I also said that it was frustrating, because of the letter that had gone to The Ross Gazette about the accusation of the affair with the local hunt monitor. I told CI Jones, ‘I did say at the time, as far as I’m concerned, she is as much a victim as me and Jane, have we not got a duty in the job to go and say to her, look, we need to inform you that this letter has gone to the Ross Gazette. It names you, and it’s got your address in there! And we never did that as an organisation. Subsequently someone has smashed her window. (She was never given the opportunity to defend her property). It just seems that the issues that are being addressed are being addressed unfairly and I think if you were an outsider, looking in, you could quite easily get this perception that the people reporting this are treated differently’!
His response to this was not to let this experience define me as who I am!
And so to summarise,
1. He didn’t think Martin Taylor should have interviewed me in the way that he did and although he knew this breached various regulations, West Mercia Police were not going to do anything about that.
2. He was really sorry for the way this left us feeling.
3. Clearly, there was no evidence at all about me having an affair with anybody.
4. He didn’t want this to define me! (Well, do you know what, this is exactly how I wanted to be defined. Someone who stands up for people with no voices. Someone who actually cared).