My Misconduct Appeal meeting with Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman was due to take place on 29th March, 2018. This would deal with what I believed was going to be the last of the conduct issues against me.
On 28/03/18, Jane emailed DS Nicholas Husbands…………
And the following morning, he responded again……
And so on 29th March, 2018, accompanied by Fed Rep 2, Iattended West Mercia Police Headquarters for my Misconduct Appeal with DCC Blakeman. I wrote the following report for the meeting.
And……this was DCC Blakeman’s outcome report which she handed to me after the meeting.
……………………..At last, it felt like I was being treated seriously. I could not hide my emotions and broke down in front of everyone present. The months of what felt like a sustained and pressured attack on my integrity, professionalism and character, felt as though it had finally come to an end.
An enormous wave of relief swept through my whole being……………..but this was not relief because the appeal had been upheld. It was relief because I could feel the faith I had all but lost in ‘justice’, might just be able to begin to be restored. I had reached a point where I never thought it could and it was that which was upsetting.
Would the powers to be start to put things right? We’ll see!
And finally on 16th March 2018, 10 months after having been served the notice for Gross Misconduct for contacting the Crown Prosecution Service with a public interest concern, I received the following……………….
So, Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman was satisfied that there were arguable grounds for appealing Superintendent Richard Long’s finding of Misconduct against me. Things were looking up!
And DCI Middleton’s report about the ‘Management Action’………..
Yes, things appeared to be really looking up!
I’m sure you will agree, a very clear and fair report by a well articulated and concise author.
The type of report we would all expect from any member of Professional Standards, having carefully considered all of the information and evidence available.
But this senior officer was new in Professional Standards. She states in the report, ‘ I do not propose to comment on the detail of the criminal investigation, and this will be subject of a more detailed review in due course’.
Would DCI Middleton be allowed to scrutinise and fairly review the actions of other senior police officers and that of her PSD officers and staff?
On 7th March, Jane sent an email to DS Nicholas Husbands, copying in his boss, DCI Middleton. Jane was as determined as me to get answers about what had happened. And this was a reasonable request. And West Mercia would want to be seen to be honest, open and transparent…………..if they had nothing to hide.
And DS Husband’s response…….
But, hang on a minute. What’s this? DS Husbands wrote, ‘It wouldn’t be good process to investigate the actions of the police until the CPS decision has been made’!…….…………………..PSD didn’t ‘hold back’ their investigations into me (for the previous 15 months) while a charging decision was being made! This was nonsense……….Oh no, wait, sorry…..It was different……..they would be investigating senior officers, wouldn’t they!
And arrangements were made for DS Husbands and DCI Middleton to see Jane at our home address on 14/03/18.
Meanwhile……I had been in contact with DCI Middleton who had asked me if I would mind if a Chief Superintendent from Warwickshire Police holding my Misconduct Appeal Meeting.
We also talked about the protected disclosure I had made, (which she had been considering). DCI Middleton said that she was not sure that I was able to make a protected disclosure about someone who was not employed by West Mercia Police!
And on 14th March 2018 DCI Anna Middleton and DS Nicholas Husbands attended our home address to meet with Jane. DCI Middleton seemed to be extremely helpful and wanted to find out everything that had gone on. She reassured Jane that our concerns raised, including the validity of the warrant, would be addressed.
And again, their seemed to be a glimmer of hope that there was someone else who, like us, thought that there was something very wrong with what had happened.
And……..someone who, being second in charge of Professional Standards Department, would be in a position to do something about it.
I want to give you all another very big thank you for sticking with my blog.
I also want to apologise for making you read the same account over and over again. I know, it’s probably been painful and arduous at times.
And this is what it felt like for me during the previous 14 months up until this point, having to repeat myself over and over again in the apparently futile hope that someone would stand up and listen.
It was now nearly 20 months since I was brought the two dead fox cubs and the police were apparently nowhere nearer to charging anyone in relation to the animal cruelty.
The police had evidently been more concerned with, and had spent far more time investigating the victims in the case and me, as the original investigating officer.
I hope you will agree that my family and I, along with the victims in the case, had already been made to suffer in such a disproportionate way, given all of the circumstances, that could never possibly be justified by the police or the Crown Prosecution Service.
But I was not going to give up seeking answers. I was not going to be bullied into silence.
As well as writing to the court and to Public Concern at Work, I also sent copies of the warrants and the warrants application form, with my concerns to The Professional Standards Department in West Mercia Police. Did they know that the disclosure section had been ignored?
On 19th January 2018 DS Nicholas Husbands sent me this email to confirm he had received them.
And on 22/01/18 he sent this in respect of my appeal to the finding of Misconduct.
And I responded………..
I thought I’d chase things up with the ForceLegal Department in respect of my status as a whistleblower! On 29/01/18 I sent the following email to them.
So, interesting remit from the force legal team bearing in mind I am an employee! Are they there to advice on what is right and just or are they just there to try to prevent the force being sued?
On 16/0218 I sent this email to Chief Inspector Dean Jones
I had copied DS Husbands into the email and he responded…….
And a further response from Chief Inspector Dean Jones!!
Frustrated at not really getting any meaningful responses, on 6th March 2018 I emailed DCI Anna Middleton, Professional Standards Department.
And her response…….
There was obviously a lot of meetings going on with the force legal department. An awful lot of discussions about what had taken place and how that was going to be explained! But was the route West Mercia Police were going to take, transparent, open and honest? Well…..let’s see!
For those of you who have seen the film, ‘Hot Fuzz’, you will be familiar with the phrase, ‘It’s for the greater good’.
But…that’s exactly where it belongs…..in a comedy film. Not in real life modern policing.
But as you have seen, it was sadly, very much present in the justice agencies involved in this case!…..And it continued……………..
This was the ‘conclusion’ of DS Craig Tennant’s report to DI Justin Taylor dated 25th September 2017, just 7 days after the warrants were executed. (You will recall that I was not informed of this until the beginning of December, over two months later)!
Now, you wouldn’t think that the criminal courts would take kindly to being lied to or mislead by the police…..would you?
I thought that I had better write to them to let them know what was going on………….
On 15th January, 2018 I also wrote to ‘Public Concern at Work’, a Government recognised whistleblowing charity, to ask for their advice.
I was desperate for help. Was someone at last going to step in and intervene, having seen the obvious injustices?
My mental health had just deteriorated throughout this long and drawn out process. Was that part of their plan? Did they care at all? They certainly knew about it. West Mercia Police had requested me to attend an independent ‘Selected Medical Practitioner’ for assessment.
In his report dated 15/01/18 the Doctor wrote,
‘Analysis and opinion Infirmity. – Mr Barradale-Smith is suffering from ‘infirmities of mind’ as defined in the Police Pensions Regulations 1987. The medical evidence indicates that Mr Barradale-Smith is suffering from the following infirmities of mind. (Psychological illnesses):
Depressive disorder (current illness episode), Post-traumatic stress disorder (current illness episode), Recurrent depressive disorder (triggered by stressful situations), Hypertension ( managed with medication)’………amongst a few others.
West Mercia Police had a copy of this report and so were fully aware of my medical condition.
In respect of my letter to Michael Seath, (as above), I received the following letter from Birmingham Magistrates Court!
The problem was……..I didn’t have the £20,000.00 or so it would cost to bring a judicial review to the High Court.
And that is probably why West Mercia Police had the confidence to get the unlawful warrants! They knew I wouldn’t be able to afford a judicial review and…….as a police officer, I had no right of complaint, other than through the grievance process. (And you’ve already seen what a complete waste of time they are)!
So, just to make it absolutely clear. There was NO further information in September 2017 to justify getting a warrant, than there was in October, 2016, nearly a year before.
So who would have known beforehand that the warrant was going to be executed?
My sergeant? DC Cleeton?DS Wells? possibly not.
DI Martin Taylor?Chief Inspector Dean Jones? Probably.
Superintendent Susan THOMAS? DCI Jonathan Roberts? DCI Mel Paley?DCI Dave Goosen? Detective Sergeant Nicholas Husbands? Definitely.
There would almost certainly have been a meeting to decide this and Professional Standards would clearly have to be consulted. Did they not discuss the obvious disclosure issues surrounding this?
Superintendent THOMAS. You surely would have stood up and said that I had already been interviewed about this. As you wrote to my wife on 12/01/17, ‘I can confirm that the interview by DI TAYLOR was conducted on behalf of Professional Standards’…..’This was not a criminal matter and no need for an arrest’. You also knew of my grievance outcome and was copied into the letter of apology written by Superintendent Purcell. Did you not consider these to be disclosure issues?
DCI Roberts, did you not have the professional integrity to voice your concerns, (or more worryingly, didn’t you realise there were any)?
DCI Paley. In your letter to Jane dated 18th December 2017, as well as your well rehearsed corporate speak, and obviously being too important and ‘accredited’ to have to properly justify the actions of you and your officers, you said that, ‘Unfortunately I cannot share material within the information of the warrant application on ‘Public Interest grounds’. Well, as you can see, we now have this document and we now know that this is a lie. Your only interest was trying to cover up mistakes made by senior officers.
DCI Goosen. You made the assessment in 2016 that the issues raised in DI Taylor’s report were all, (apart from one), performance issues. You then made an assessment at the beginning of 2017 that in respect of that one issue, there was no case to answer for misconduct. How could you therefore be happy with the decision to obtain a warrant with NO further information or evidence to support it?
DS Husbands, You were the PSD Officer with the greatest knowledge of what had happened. You knew about my pocket book entry of 26th May 2016. You knew I had already been formally interviewed about this by DI Martin TAYLOR and were aware of the responses I had already given. You were aware that I had written a section 9 statement explaining each point. You knew about the spurious affair allegation having come from the NFU offices and that there was NO evidence whatsoever to support this. You knew that all of this information was over 12 months old. Why didn’t you speak out?
Where was the integrity of all of these senior officers?
And DI Justin TAYLOR, you did a thorough review of the whole Operation Childer case including the investigation into me. You would have known all of the above.
But DI Justin TAYLOR must have thought that it was justified, necessary and proportionate in all the circumstances, or he wouldn’t have applied for it…………would he.
And despite what DS Craig Tennant had told Jane and I during the execution of the warrant, that they were ordered to do it by Chief Superintendent Mark Travis, you only have to obey an order, if it is lawful.
Surely any officer with personal and professional integrity would not apply for a warrant if they thought it wasn’t justified, necessary or proportionate.
Because in doing so, you would have to mislead the magistrate into thinking that it was justified, necessary and proportionate…….and that would constitute a criminal offence.
Now, I’m going to break with tradition. I have been setting things out in a chronological order so that you could see the documents and information in the same order that we did.
But Jane received the following information at the beginning of January 2019, a year later, and it makes more sense to show it to you now. This was part of a Professional Standards report undertaken by Detective Sergeant Tony Power………………………….
And yet, less than two months later, on the ‘advice and directions’ he had received, that is exactly what he did……….
‘We all carry assumptions, stereotypes and prejudices; they are part of our natural make up and relate to attitudes and the way we make sense of things. It is not unlawful to be prejudiced or to make assumptions or to carry stereotypes It is impossible not to!
The danger of applying these stereotypes, however, is that we use the minimum amount of information to make a number of assumptions.
The important point about our assumptions, stereotypes and prejudices is that they are related to our values. They are not unlawful. We are allowed to think what we like about anyone.
However, once we start taking action on our prejudices, we may be behaving in a discriminatory way and we might be breaking the law or working against our organisation’s policies’.
On Thursday 11th January 2018 I received this letter.
And……within the bundle of papers accompanying this letter was a copy of the application to obtain the search warrants. I will refer you back to blog 39 as you read through this application!
Ok, so let’s go through this to see if you think the court was deliberately mislead into issuing these warrants. Because, if the court was deliberately mislead then surely the officers concerned would have to be dealt with for perverting the course of justice……..wouldn’t they?
So the application was made by Detective Inspector Justin TAYLOR, who, (possibly unlawfully) interviewed me on 20th September 2017. (Not to be confused with DI Martin Taylor who definitely unlawfully interviewed me in December 2016.
At the bottom of page 1, the criminal offences under investigation were (1) Malfeasance in a Public Office and (2) Breach of the Data Protection Act.
So my first question is, what evidence did they have for me breaching the Data Protection Act? Let’s look again at the history to date.
28/10/16 senior CPS Prosecutor Stephen Davies made a complaint to DI Martin Taylor about my conduct. (Disclosing confidential information). This was following information DI Martin Taylor claims he was given on 11th August 2016
08/11/16 DI Martin Taylor submits a report to Professional Standards Department asking them to review issues about me, including that I had disclosed ‘sensitive’ information to ‘Andy’
14/12/16 Wendy Elliott, (PSD), served me a notice for misconduct which stated, ‘If proven this would be a breach of the Data Protection Act’. (And so at this point PSD deemed that it was not criminal, but a misconduct issue. If they were looking at it criminally, I would have been served a notice for Gross Misconduct and not just Misconduct).
29/12/16 Having been cautioned, I sent my response to the allegation of misconduct to Wendy Elliott.
Late December Wendy Elliott phoned ‘Andy’ to ‘question’ her about this as well as whether or not I had met ‘Andy’ prior to her attending Ross Police Station on 28/05/16. When ‘Andy’ said that we had not met before this day, apparently Wendy Elliott made it obvious that she didn’t believe this!!
09/03/17 PSD Detective Chief Inspector Dave Goosen made an Appropriate Authority Determination that there was no case to answer for misconduct.
Stephen Davies appeals DCI Goosen’s decision to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
12/07/17 Christine Power from the IPCC recommends that under paragraph 27(3) of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 that I have a case to answer for misconduct in relation to a breach of the standard of professional behaviour regarding confidentiality, the case to answer to be determined at a misconduct meeting. (So again, not determined to be criminal).
Why on earth is there NO mention of the above in the warrant application and why was it being treated as a criminal offence when neither the DCI on PSD or the IPCC thought that it should be?
Now, let’s go to page 2. The Investigation. Again, interesting use of the ‘Anti-Hunt Investigation a Team’ from officers that had thoroughly reviewed the whole case! Having reviewed the case they should have known it was the Hunt Investigation Team!
And, again, nowhere does it mention that I had already been interviewed and given responses to the questions posed, including in a written statement. It makes it sound as though neither ‘Andy’ or I had been spoken to about the investigation before this time. This was crazy. I couldn’t believe it.
‘Evidence would suggest that the officer was in contact with the Anti- Hunt Investigation Team prior to the date of reporting to the Police, (Yes, it’s in my bloody pocket note book, which you had a copy of. I phoned ‘Andy’ on 26/05/16).…and may have been involved in the tasking and organising of the covert video recordings’. Where is there any evidence whatsoever of this? This is a lie.
‘The Officer has stated that the first time he met the Anti-Hunt Team was on the day of reporting the incident to the police however statements obtained from parties involved would suggest that he was in contact before this date bringing his honesty and integrity into question’. The clue is in this sentence. Just because you’ve contacted someone, that doesn’t mean you’ve met them!!! Again, I refer to my pocket note book entry, which these officers would have had.
‘In particular evidence of contact between the officer and Anti-Hunt Member ‘Andy’ is most concerning’. This would be the ‘evidence’ from Malcolm Watkins of Ross NFU, who sponsored the South Hereford Hunt and friends with one of the suspects at the time, Hunt Master Alex Price. He didn’t, in fact, have any evidence to support this accusation at the time, didn’t even name me and didn’t want to get involved any further. Is this the ‘reliable’ information that Code B of PACE requires?
‘The Officer has also shown members of the SHH the video recordings and given them details of the post mortem results’. I had already explained all of this and put it into a statement for court.
And DI Justin Taylor used the above information to obtain a warrant! Really!!
And they were looking for Telecom and electronic equipment capable of communicating with members of the Anti-Hunt Team or Hunt Masters. Well you’ve seen how many emails so far had gone back and forth to sergeants, Inspectors, Chief Inspectors, Superintendents, Professional Standards etc………..and every one of them from me or Jane had a message at the bottom………..’sent from my iPad’.
Guess which was the only device they let us keep, having seized my phone and all of our other computers? That’s right….the iPad!!!!
Now look at the bottom of page 3. ‘At least one of the following four access conditions must apply’ (to get the warrant).
So DI Justin TAYLOR has stated to the court that, ‘entry to the premises will not be granted unless a warrant is produced’ and ‘the purpose of a search may be frustrated or seriously prejudiced unless a constable arriving at the premises can secure immediate entry to them’ He goes on to explain in the last sentence at the top of page 4, ‘Communications with persons in control of these items may result in the destruction of these items’.
So, what he is telling the court is that he believes I would be obstructive, refuse police entry to my house and destroy my phone and computers. Well, again DI TAYLOR, where the hell is your evidence for this. Anyone who has read this blog and seen all of the emails and meetings documented, will, I hope agree that I have cooperated fully throughout the process, remained professional despite everything that happened, have let officers into our home and more crucially I have ASKED for investigations to take place which were refused!!
Furthermore, did DI TAYLOR not think that, had I in fact done anything wrong and had I been the devious, bent copper he was portraying, that I might have got rid of any incriminating evidence following the unlawful interview in December 2016. Again I will unfortunately remind you good people that he and his colleagues are trusted with investigating incredibly serious crimes!! Does it give you ANY faith?
And remember Code B of PACE. The information to obtain the warrant has to be recent. 12 months old is not recent DI TAYLOR and you had a duty to tell the court this. You deliberately chose not to.
On page 5, section 8 you will see that the duty of disclosure section has simply been answered with, ‘No’. Underneath in section 9, DI TAYLOR has signed the declaration, ‘To the best of my knowledge and belief, a) this application discloses all the information that is material to what the court must decide, including anything that might reasonably be considered capable of undermining any of the grounds of the application, and b), the content of this application is true.
The last paragraph is fairly self explanatory.
Do you think the court would have granted the warrant, had DI Justin TAYLOR told the truth in this section and listed all of the disclosure issues?
Do you think DI Justin TAYLOR deliberately mislead the court in order to get the warrant, no matter what?
Do you think DI Justin TAYLOR perverted the course of justice?
We’re West Mercia Police just going to protect him, as a senior officer?
Remember, a warrant was also served on one of the victims in this case, a victim who had exposed serious criminal activity at the South Hereford Hunt kennels by hunt staff. A victim, who was hoping that on THIS occasion, she and her colleagues would not be stereotyped and discriminated against by the police and CPS!
Lastly, in 2015 in an attempt to help ‘legitimise’ one of our local hunt monitor groups, I came up with an idea to help them. I explained the problems with ‘police officer brains’ seeing ‘sabs’ with dark clothes, looking sinister, covering their faces. Essentially, hunt monitors were just the same as people involved in neighbourhood watch schemes, preventing and reporting criminal/unlawful/antisocial behaviour. I said, if it were me, I would wear a bright T shirt which explained clearly what I was doing. They agreed and thought this was a cool idea. They applied to the police to become a ‘watch’ scheme. Unfortunately their application was turned down by the chief constable, Anthony Bangham!!!! Why? Maybe this is explained later in this blog!!
If the NFU Mutual were in this ‘ground breaking partnership’, no wonder the local Hunt Monitors were told they couldn’t set up a Watch Scheme!
So…….Jane put in some Freedom of Information Requests to see what West Mercia Police would say about it!! What do you think?
Now that I was no longer under investigation, I sent the request again to Get a copy of the warrant application. They clearly didn’t want me to see it but I wasn’t going to let it go…
If you recall, the Gross Misconduct for daring to contact the CPS with a public interest concern, had been downgraded to Management Action. This is a non disciplinary outcome and I bet Professional Standards thought I’d be very grateful to receive this! (Even Fed Rep 2 advised me to accept it)!
On 18th December 2017, DS Nicholas Husbands sent me this email.
Christmas came and went and before I knew it, we were in 2018.
If I was to receive Management Action I wanted to see the actual complaint from Suzanne Llewelyn at the CPS. I asked my sergeant to show it to me but he said he didn’t have it so referred the request to DS Husbands. DS Husbands then made contact.
And on 10th January 2018 he wrote……
Would I be getting Management Action? We’ll see a bit later! But my concerns about Stephen Davies hadn’t been addressed and I couldn’t leave that either!
If you remember, on 14th November, DS Husbands said, ‘with regards to your complaint about the CPS Prosecutor, I have discussed this matter this morning with my DCI who is no longer Dave Goosen as he has moved on. I am in the process of compiling a report about it based on our conversation yesterday. You are correct in that it had not been addressed as far as I know, please leave that side of things with me’.
On 2nd of January 2018 I emailed DS Husbands saying, ‘Have you had a response from the CPS yet?’ I also sent the following to the CPS……
And got a response…..
I waited until the 16th February, 2018. Perhaps the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor was busy or had mislaid the email!!
No, still no response…..
But…….just got totally ignored. They were ignoring me, evidently ignoring Professional Standards, (as you will see a little later) and ignoring The Public Interest Disclosure Act.
The CPS were breaking the law, because to deliberately ignore me, having failed to silence me by bullying, was concealing the protected disclosure.
Do you think this was all disclosed to the court in the Operation Childer animal cruelty case? No,no I don’t think it was!!
On 14th December 2017 Jane sent the following to DS Nicholas Husbands in respect of her email sent to the Chief Constable on 29th November. She had not received a response.
And DS Husbands’s response…..
And then this…..
And Jane received this letter from Detective Chief Inspector Paley.
So, DCI Mel Paley considered that reasonable grounds existed to complete a criminal investigation. But she doesn’t say why. Perhaps she felt that she had reached a rank at which point she didn’t need to justify her decision.
She said that the investigation strategy was set to use the most effective and least intrusive investigation activity to prove or disprove the officer’s involvement in any criminal matters. What planet is this officer on? They served warrants on the victim’s house for Gods sake! How much more intrusive could it have got? And what did she mean by, ‘involvement in any criminal matters’. Sounds like they were trying to find something criminal to pin onto the Hunt Investigation Team. Why would that be then?
And isn’t it reassuring to hear her say, ‘ A court will hear an application and review the information within to assure themselves that reasonable grounds to believe the issuing of a warrant is necessary under the provisions of Section 8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). Because no doubt as the senior investigating officer, before writing this letter she would be completely satisfied that the application for the warrant was completed correctly and in no way could have mislead the court……wouldn’t she?
Because, of course, a court could only assure themselves that reasonable grounds to believe the issuing of a warrant is necessary, if and only if the court were not mislead in any way in the application!!
But, what’s this, ‘Unfortunately I cannot share material within the information of the warrant application on Public Interest Grounds’
So, I guess we’d never know just what the court were or were not told!! Well, we will see about that!!
DCI Paley, it seems to me that you’ve been taking the same corporate bullshit pills as Superintendent Susan THOMAS. If no one has told you to date, I am telling you that, having never met you before, on reading this letter it is clear that you believe your rank, training and accreditation is enough to put you above having to justify the actions of you and that of your officers. You are a disgrace to the uniform that you probably believe you are above having to wear.
We will see if there is information within the warrant application that cannot be shared on ‘public interest grounds’. And after that, I challenge you to justify why you have written this dismissive and unapologetic letter to my wife.
Yes folks, unfortunately you are seeing for yourselves how high ranking officers, who will make decisions on the most serious of offences, behave and think. Does it instil you with confidence in the police service?
Anyway, my Appeal against the finding of misconduct.