Home Affairs CommitteeSupplementary written evidence submitted by Commander Peter Spindler, Directorate of Professional Standards, Metropolitan Police [PI21]
I write in response to your letter dated 29 May 2012 and want to thank you for the opportunity to clarify my answers to the Committee on 7 February 2012. I think it is important for me to contextualise the questions and answers I gave in response.
Firstly, at Q113 you began by stating that you “had received written evidence that police officers have accepted payments for information….” I was then asked whether I had seen evidence of police officers receiving payments for information. My reference to “evidence” needs to be seen in the context of the qualification at Q116. It is there that I confirm we have “intelligence” about corrupt activities however getting it to a stage of proof, where in police parlance it is to an “evidential standard” is a different matter.
I was unaware of what the “written evidence” you were referring to at the time and therefore unable to answer your question case specifically. However, even if I had known the specifics, it would have been inappropriate for me to comment further than I knew of allegations at the time, due to the sensitive nature of any ongoing counter corruption investigation.
I have since asked for a recall of historic cases known to the Directorate of Professional Standards Intelligence Bureau and have identified three which relate specifically to private investigation companies and therefore may be of interest to the Committee. I have attached a précis of these and will be more than happy to discuss them in greater detail when we meet with DAC Gallan at New Scotland Yard on 7 June to discuss the broader corruption profile.
APPENDIX TO LETTER TO KEITH VAZ MP
Six men were sentenced in connection with what was one of the most extensive investigations ever carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) anti-corruption team. The offences were committed between 1999 and 2004 and were identified by a pro-active, intelligence-led operation. The offences included conspiracy to cause unauthorised modification of computer material, conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to intercept communications unlawfully, conspiracy to cause criminal damage to property, and aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office.
Those convicted included two former MPS constables, Jeremy Young and Scott Gelsthorpe, who had established a private investigations company, Active Investigation Services (AIS), three other ex police officers, two of whom were working as private investigators, and one further man also employed as a private investigator.
AIS used sophisticated bugging and IT technology to hack into computers and tap landline telephones engage in corporate espionage and invaded the privacy of members of the public. Among the illegal services offered by the company were accessing medical records, bank details and phone bills as well as fitting bugs to people’s cars.
The investigation found that the men were illegally obtaining information from the PNC, including checks on people and vehicles. An audit of the details requested found they had all been checked by one of the men, who at the time was an Acting Inspector in Staffordshire Police.
Operation Two Bridges
This was an investigation into Law and Commercial (previously Southern Investigations) and brought to light evidence re the planting of drugs on the wife of Simon James (a client) to ensure he won a custody battle for the couples son. Ultimately James (seven years) Jonathan REES the PI (seven years) and Austin WARNES, serving MPS officer, (five years) were imprisoned for Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice.
The investigation into the murder of Daniel Morgan instigated after a review of the murder by the MPS Murder Review Group; no charges resulted from this first Abelard investigation. Operation Abelard II brought together material from the previous investigations and as a result, William Jonathan Rees, was amongst four men charged with murder. Mr Morgan had worked with Mr Rees in Southern Investigations. This prosecution failed in March 2011 owing to disclosure issues (the prosecution offering no evidence). A fifth man, serving MPS police officer Sidney Fillery, had also been charged with perverting the course of justice, it being alleged he had interfered with the investigation (this charge was stayed in February 2010). Fillery subsequently retired and became Rees’ partner in Southern Investigations. The corruption allegations surrounding the initial investigation led to the then PCA appointing Hampshire Police to investigate, however their report did not identify any corruption.