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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 756- i
House of commons
TAKEN BEFORE THE
HOME AFFAIRS Committee
Leadership and standards in the police service: follow-up
WEDNESday 23 october 2013
Chief Inspector Jerry Reakes-Williams
Dame Anne Owers and Deborah Glass
DS Stuart Hinton, Sgt Chris Jones, and Inspector Ken Mackaill
Chief Constable David Shaw
Chief Constable Andy Parker, and Chief Constable Chris Sims QPM
Evidence heard in Private Questions 1 - 517
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Wednesday 23 October 2013
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witness
Witness: Chief Inspector Jerry Reakes-Williams, Professional Standards, Warwickshire and West Mercia Police, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: Before I begin the session, could I thank Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams for coming to give evidence to the Select Committee today. We are most grateful.
This is a continuation of the Select Committee’s inquiry into leadership and standards in the police, and in particular the response by the IPCC to the report by the West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands Police. First of all, Chief Inspector, I wrote to you earlier this week and I asked you to supply some documentation to this Committee consisting of your draft report, which I will call "draft report A" and your second report "final report B" and you were unable to supply it. Was there a reason that you personally were unable to supply this?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I understood that the force was going to do that on my behalf.
Q2 Chair: We received a letter from a Penny Fishwick who said that she advised the Chief Constable to instruct you not to submit any documentation in response to your request at the present time. Did you have any contact with this solicitor?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: With Penny Fishwick? Yes, I have had contact with her. As I say, I understand that the force were going to provide those documents.
Q3 Chair: Which is why you did not?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I did not do it on that basis.
Q4 Chair: We have now received that documentation from the Chief Constable. I just wanted to clarify why you were not able to send it. Can I remind you, as I will remind all witnesses before us today, that it is a prima facie contempt of the House to give false evidence to a Select Committee? I am sure you were aware of that.
You wrote the initial and the final report to the IPCC in respect of these matters, and in the first report-
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Sorry, Chair, can I just correct you? To be absolutely accurate, my Detective Inspector actually wrote the report but with me supervising it and checking it, and it was obviously submitted when I had seen it and approved it.
Q5 Chair: Were you the senior officer involved?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q6 Chair: Did you end the draft report with the words, "By giving a misleading account of what took place at the meeting I believe the officers have a case to answer for misconduct and bringing discredit on the police service"?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes, I did.
Q7 Chair: Do you still consider that the three officers concerned-and we will hear from them later-have a case to answer in respect of misconduct and discredit being brought on the police service?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Absolutely, yes, I do.
Q8 Chair: Could you tell the Committee why?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Chair, I find myself in some difficulty here. I am very clear that I did find a case to answer of misconduct. That is still my view. My difficulty is that I understand that my Chief Constable has written to you and said that there may still be proceedings. Therefore, I find myself in a difficult position when it comes to going into details, as to explaining exactly why. I am very clear on what the position is, but I am not sure that I should be going into details about my rationale. I know that you have that and that is still my position. I hope the members of the Committee all have that report, and I feel it would not be appropriate to go into all the details in public when there may still be proceedings. I hope you understand that.
Q9 Chair: As you know, this is a report that has already been written and your reasoning is very clearly in that report so it is already in the public domain. We are asking you about that. We are not asking you about something that is confidential. The Committee intends to publish all the reports and all the documents because, as you know, the IPCC-and indeed your Chief Constable-were very clear that the process was not a problem. They thought the investigation appeared to be thorough. It is just the conclusions. So we are interested today not in the detail, just in your conclusions that were appended to report A. It is those conclusions, which presumably as you say have not changed. Perhaps you could tell this Committee because it is in the public domain. It will not have any effect on any future proceedings because nobody is questioning the investigative process or the fact finding. What we want today is facts. We are not here to provide mediation between the various parties. We are here to establish the facts. So would you tell the Committee why you came to that conclusion, because they are your conclusions and, as you say, they are not going to change are they?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: No, they are not. Okay. My view is that taken as a whole the comments made by the Federation representatives did have the impact of misleading the public as to what happened in that meeting. I think it is important that I make a distinction between misconduct and gross misconduct. If I thought the case was made out that the officers had lied my conclusion would have said it was gross misconduct, without question. I think there is room for interpretation. We are talking here about semantics to some extent, what weight you put on certain words and certain phrases. That is one aspect.
Q10 Chair: Is that because the version that was given at the meeting, which of course was recorded, was different to the version that was given to the press immediately after the meeting on 12 October, is that why you come to that conclusion?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I think it is based on the phrase that Inspector Mackaill used. In other words, that Mr Mitchell had refused to say what he did say. I think that any average member of the public hearing that would think that Mr Mitchell had not given any account at all of what happened in Downing Street, whereas clearly Mr Mitchell did give an account. But I think there is room for doubt and interpretation as to whether it was a full account. If you listen to the recording and then you listen to the interview afterwards, on the balance of probabilities I do not consider that the officers have lied. I think they have misled.
Q11 Chair: If they had lied you feel that they would then be up for gross misconduct-
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Absolutely.
Chair: -which would mean dismissal. Whereas at the end of-
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I think it is also, Chair-sorry to interrupt-my job to come to an opinion and give a recommendation. Clearly it then goes to the Appropriate Authorities and if the Appropriate Authorities decided on a hearing, clearly that is where the evidence is heard and the panel then decide whether there is a finding of gross misconduct or not. So I do the investigation, I come to an opinion with a recommendation.
Q12 Chair: Of course. Were you disappointed that that recommendation was not followed? You have been very clear with us today and I thank you for your honesty and transparency. You are standing by what you said in that first report that you submitted. Were you disappointed at the end of the day that there was not a case to answer, because you obviously have a lot of experience in these matters? How long have you been in the Professional Standards Department at West Mercia Police?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I have only been in the Professional Standards Department since January this year.
Q13 Chair: Have you dealt with other cases of this kind?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I have dealt with other cases. I think it would be impossible to say other cases of this kind.
Q14 Chair: It is pretty unique.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Mr Winnick: A somewhat lower profile I would imagine.
Q15 Chair: Let me just deal with the process after this. You submitted a draft with your conclusions?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q16 Chair: A second report, the final report, was then sent to the IPCC. Is that right?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q17 Chair: But that did not have the conclusions that I have read out, those that are on page 28 of the document?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: No.
Q18 Chair: Why did they not have those conclusions, which could perhaps have avoided any of this controversy if they contained those conclusions?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Perhaps I can just talk you through without going into too much detail. The draft report was submitted on 26 July to the IPCC representative. Clearly we had been having meetings at the IPCC. The conclusions of the report would not have been a surprise to the IPCC representative. As it was clearly and well understood to be a draft report, I felt that it was right that the findings of my Detective Inspector as the investigating officer was on there, but that also my contrary view was on that report. It was always understood that that was not a final report.
Quite understandably the IPCC came back and said, "You can’t have a report with two different views. You have to come to a finding".
Q19 Chair: That is Inspector Smith’s view and your view?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes. But it was always understood on my part, in the sense the people whose opinion matters are the Appropriate Authorities. They are the one who make the determination.
Q20 Chair: For the purposes of the public, the Appropriate Authorities are the three Deputy Chief Constables who met you, who you briefed about this. Not the Chief Constables, it is the Deputy Chief Constables?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: For West Mercia and for Warwickshire Police, it is the Deputy Chief Constables. Although you may want to clarify this later, I understand that for the West Midlands Police it is actually the Assistant Chief Constable who has that role.
Q21 Chair: Could you give us their names?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes. In West Mercia it is Simon Chesterman. In Warwickshire it is Neil Brunton, and in West Midlands I understand it is Gary Cann.
Q22 Chair: So you gave your conclusions in the first draft but you feel very strongly-and the law tells you-that it is up to the Appropriate Authorities, those three Chief Constables, to submit the final report, with or without conclusions. Is that right?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Again, to be strictly accurate-and language is important in this investigation-I had a meeting on 1 August with the two Deputy Chief Constables, Mr Chesterman and Mr Brunton.
Q23 Chair: That is West Mercia and Warwickshire?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes, Warwickshire, and a representative from West Midlands because Mr Cann was not available. A senior representative from the Professional Standards Department in the West Midlands was there, together with a legal adviser. In that meeting we reviewed the crucial evidence, which was the recording of the meeting and the recording of the interview afterwards. A discussion followed in which we briefed the people present. I should also add at this point that the IPCC had directed me because clearly the Appropriate Authorities needed to see the report. The IPCC had directed that we were not to share our conclusions with those officers. So on 31 July a copy of our report, without the conclusions, was sent to the Appropriate Authorities.
In the discussion the following day on 1 August, I made my view clear. I made it clear that there was a difference of opinion between myself and DI Smith, who was present by the way. In the course of the discussion it was clear that there was a difference of opinion. My understanding was that it was then for the Deputy Chief Constables and the Assistant Chief Constable to make a determination. That was done for West Mercia and Warwickshire by way of a file note, which we had received within 24 hours of the meeting. My understanding was that, "Right, that is the decision and, therefore, that is what goes in the final report. I have made my opinion known. I have made my recommendation. The senior officer has made a different decision and, therefore, that is what should go in the final report", keeping in mind the IPCC’s direction that there should only be one final opinion in the report.
Q24 Chair: Do you think Mr Mitchell is owed an apology about the way in which this whole case has been handled?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Certainly I do. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this case, I think you have to take into account the impact on Mr Mitchell and his family of what took place at that meeting on 12 October. Clearly that is the only thing I can comment on, bearing in mind the wider issues.
Q25 Chair: Has this damaged the reputation of the forces?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I think by the fact that I am sat here and we are all here, we have to say, yes, it has had an impact on the reputation of the forces.
Q26 Michael Ellis: Chief Inspector, you were charged with writing this report into allegations of misconduct in respect of three police officers, members of the police federations in region three I believe. For the purposes under statute, you were the investigating officer, correct?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q27 Michael Ellis: You had an inspector under you who was working with you to achieve the goal of completing this report, but you are the person that counts under law as the investigator?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q28 Michael Ellis: So your view was that these three officers ought to face disciplinary proceedings for misconduct?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q29 Michael Ellis: Your junior disagreed with that assessment?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q30 Michael Ellis: You then compiled a report in which you gave seven reasons why you thought that that should be the case. I am not going to rehearse them all now but they include seven reasons why you thought that they had misled. I want to ask you, you said to Mr Vaz that you did not believe that these officers had lied but that they had misled. What is the difference? They came out of the meeting with Mr Mitchell and they said something that was not true to the waiting press. You say that was misleading the press. What is the difference?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I think the difference is whether they intended to do that or not. Clearly, if they came out with the absolute intention of misleading the press that would be gross misconduct and it would be a lie. I do not take the view, having analysed the evidence, that that is the case.
Q31 Michael Ellis: Your report then went to the Chief Officers prematurely, did it not? It was a procedural irregularity. In fact it was unlawful for the senior officers to see your report before the IPCC. Isn’t that right?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: They did not see the report before the IPCC. The draft report went to the IPCC on 26 July.
Q32 Michael Ellis: Before it was finalised?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes, but-
Q33 Michael Ellis: That was an irregularity, wasn’t it?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Certainly, since all this has played out in the last month or so-and I know that a lot of people have pored over this-what I would say is that I was acting under the directions of the IPCC. Bear in mind that we had a meeting with the IPCC rep on 31 July in the morning before the copy of the report without the conclusions was forwarded to the Appropriate Authorities. There was a clear instruction that that should go to them without the conclusions. Clearly, if you look at the regulations that is an irregularity.
Q34 Michael Ellis: That is an irregularity. You are confirming that?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I think it is an irregularity but, as I say, it was a supervised inquiry by the IPCC and I was following their instructions.
Q35 Michael Ellis: So your understanding was that they thought that you should take off the conclusions and recommendations of your own report, send it to your chiefs and see what they say?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes, and that is documented in my policy book.
Q36 Michael Ellis: Then when it comes back from the chiefs their view is that there should not be misconduct proceedings. They overruled your judgment in the matter?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q37 Michael Ellis: But you are the investigating officer. It is your opinion that should count, shouldn’t it?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: My understanding is that it is the Appropriate Authorities who decide whether there is a case to answer for misconduct.
Q38 Michael Ellis: The Deputy Chief Constables did not write the report. You did, Chief Inspector.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes, the draft report but they wrote a file note giving their findings, and that is what is reflected in the final report.
Q39 Michael Ellis: So your views were overruled and what happened was you thought that there was misconduct on the part of three police officers dealing with Andrew Mitchell in Sutton Coldfield and after your chiefs had looked at it they said, "No, there isn’t"?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q40 Dr Huppert: Thank you. It is an interesting challenge to have a look at the changes that have gone on. As you say there was the change in what the final conclusion was. I notice there are also a number of other changes scattered throughout in the section that was originally the Investigating officer’s recommendations. For example, the wording of whether the comments were seen as ambiguous or reckless was changed from ambiguous or misleading. There is a whole series of other changes that soften the tone even of the original investigating officer’s report, even before your conclusions. Why were those changes made and who decided that they should be softened?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I think it is important that you appreciate that in compiling a report it goes through quite a number of different versions, and certainly my DI will have made amendments as we were going through and having meetings with the IPCC. It would have come to me. I would have made amendments. Sometimes very, very minor ones, sometimes you would include things and then you might take them out because you think there is a better bit to put in. Those kind of things. Inevitably, when you write a report it does go through quite a lot of changes.
Q41 Dr Huppert: Is it fair to say that between version A, the first version and version C, the final one, in every single case the changes made were in the direction of softening the report? It is certainly true of every one I have been able to find.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: To be honest, I don’t think I could answer that without having a good look and being reminded exactly what they were.
Q42 Dr Huppert: Having a look through they are all softening comments being put in at some stage, which seems strange if the argument was about what the final conclusion would be that you were also softening the rest of the contents.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: What I would say is that clearly the final report needed to reflect the views of the Appropriate Authorities. So some of the re-writing would have been in relation to their findings.
Q43 Dr Huppert: As Michael Ellis was saying, is the Appropriate Authorities named at the end of the report? It seems to be signed off.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: No. It is signed off by myself because, as has already been pointed out, I am the investigating officer. My understanding. I remember Dame Anne Owers saying how complicated the police regulations can be at a conference I went to. It is difficult. We may have made procedural oversights. I don’t think any procedural oversight affects the outcome, which I think is the important thing.
Q44 Dr Huppert: Throughout it talks about "The investigating officer considers", rather than "The investigating officer has been told to consider".
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q45 Mr Clappison: You have told us about a meeting that took place on 1 August, which I believe was after the report had gone without recommendations to the Chief Constables and Deputy Chief Constables.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: It was the day after that.
Mr Clappison: The day after that. This was a meeting I think you told us with the Deputy Chief Constables-is that right?-of the three authorities and one person representing them.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes, and a senior member of the professional standards and the legal adviser.
Q46 Chair: Just to be accurate for the record, it is the two Chief Deputy Chief Constables, Mr Cann and Mr Chesterman?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: No, Mr Chesterman and Mr Brunton were the two who were present.
Chair: Thank you.
Q47 Mr Clappison: Did you make clear in the course of that meeting that, notwithstanding the fact that the report had gone without recommendations, that it was your view that these three officers should face charges of misconduct?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q48 Mr Clappison: You made that absolutely clear to the three Chief Deputy Constables or representatives?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q49 Mr Clappison: You are the head of professional standards for your force, aren’t you?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q50 Mr Clappison: Did you think it was a bit surprising that they did not go along with what you were recommending because this was your job, what you are supposed to do as a senior officer?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I think it is a case, contrary to some things that I have heard and seen, that is not necessarily straightforward because it is talking about language. You need to think about how much value you put on certain words and I think different interpretations are possible. I do not agree with the Appropriate Authorities. However, I quite understand the conclusion that they have come to.
Q51 Mr Clappison: On that question of interpretation, you have been quite clear about this because Mr Ellis mentioned the seven reasons that you gave, and you reached quite a clear conclusion on that. You said in reason 6, very similar to what you have said today, "I think that an ordinary member of the public, listening to the officer speaking to the media after the meeting, would have interpreted the words as meaning that Mr Mitchell would not give any account of what occurred in Downing Street on 19 September 2012. This is clearly not the case". Reason 7 was, "The Officers have therefore given an account of the meeting to the media that was inaccurate and misleading and contrary to the elements of the Standard of Professional Behaviour listed above". The fact that no proceedings were then taken and that your report was ignored means that your views, which were expressed clearly there as the head of professional standards, were in fact left hanging in the wind.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I work in a disciplined organisation. You often do not agree with decisions that those above you make but you stand by them. There is an element here of collective responsibility, as I am sure there is in the political world.
Q52 Mr Clappison: I understand that, but you have made your position clear as Ministers do in the political world and then they are bound by other people’s views sometimes.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I am absolutely clear that the Appropriate Authorities knew my views from 1 August.
Q53 Chair: Chief Inspector, of course, there is no collective responsibility I hope in the police service to suppress the truth, is there?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Absolutely not.
Q54 Chair: Are there minutes of this meeting that took place with the two Deputy Chief Constables with yourself? Because the best way to deal with what was being said, since this is now in the public domain, is that we see the minutes. Who took the minutes of this meeting?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: There were no minutes at that meeting. I ought to point out that as there was a legal representative there I guess that would be difficult from a legal privileged point of view.
Q55 Chair: Sorry, why is it legally privileged?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: My understanding is that if legal advice is being given by a lawyer there is-
Q56 Chair: Was Penny Fishwick there?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q57 Chair: So Penny Fishwick, the head of legal services?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I am pretty sure it was Penny. I think it was, yes.
Q58 Chair: She said to me that she had advised the Chief Constable to instruct you not to give the report. She was present at the meeting?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q59 Chair: Presumably she might have a note of this very important meeting when your conclusions were in effect overruled?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: There will be an entry, for instance, in my policy book, I think. I would have to check that.
Q60 Chair: That is your entry?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Chair: But did you see her take notes?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: No official minutes were taken of that meeting.
Q61 Chair: Were there any unofficial minutes taken?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: No. But obviously what I do not know is people make their own notes, don’t they, and I am sure the Appropriate Authorities would have been taking notes in order to help them make their decision but they are not formal minutes.
Q62 Chair: What is so odd about it is-apart from Mr Mitchell, who of course recorded the conversation in his constituency office on 12 October-nobody else seems to have that accurate a recording. For a meeting of that importance, with two Assistant Chief Constables, the Appropriate Authority, yourself and Mr Smith, when there is a difference of view, one would have thought, dealing with four police officers and one legal adviser who is the head of legal services, somebody would have made a note.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: If you bear with me one second, I can check and see. I have a note in my-if I can just explain-policy book.
Q63 Chair: This is your note?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes. A policy file is something in major investigations where the senior investigating officer makes a note of key decisions and a rationale for that decision.
Chair: Of course. This was your note. This was not the note of the meeting as a whole?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: No. As I say, I am absolutely clear nobody took official minutes. There was nothing recorded.
Q64 Chair: Even though this was a case that was all over the world. It involved three Chief Constables, three Assistant Chief Constables, a Chief Inspector and an Inspector-
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Sorry, I think I need to clarify that there were no Chief Constables there.
Chair: No, but the whole case involves three Chief Constables, three Assistant Chief Constables, a Chief Inspector, an Inspector, another Inspector who was at the meeting on the 12th and two Sergeants. Nobody thought about taking a note of this very important meeting?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Sorry, the meeting on the 12th?
Chair: Not the meeting on the 12th, the whole case involved all these people. For this meeting, which was the crucial meeting, nobody took a note?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: No, not an official note. As I say, I am sure people would have made their own notes about what was taking place but there were no official minutes.
Q65 Nicola Blackwood: Chief Inspector, we have had some discussion about the downgrading of the decision from misconduct to no misconduct, and you have explained it as interpretation of semantics. Like most people, I would like to understand what the criteria are and how you can understand these semantics. You started off in your answer to the Chairman by saying that one of the reasons why you thought that this was misconduct and not gross misconduct was because when Mr Mackaill came out he said he did not say what he said, referring to Mr Mitchell-
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: "He refused to say what he did say" I think are the words.
Nicola Blackwood: Then of course, when he was speaking to Michael Crick in the Dispatches programme he went on to say that Mr Mitchell did not actually give a full statement or a full version of his events, which I think that we all conclude, having read the transcript, Mr Mitchell did do. I wonder how that is interpreted semantically.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I would disagree with the view that Mr Mitchell gave a full account. My understanding is that an account given-I think it was in the Telegraph just before Christmas-contained things that were not said in the meeting on 12 October. I think that is why I say there is room for doubt. Clearly, Mr Mitchell was absolutely clear in that meeting about what he did not say, but in my view he did not make it so clear about exactly what he did say in full detail to mean that when the officer came out and said, "He refused to say what he did say" that it is a clear case of lying. I think there is room for doubt.
Q66 Nicola Blackwood: Was there any question that Mr Mitchell left unanswered in the transcript that he refused to answer? If you read the transcript there is no question that Mr Mitchell refused to answer.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I absolutely think and I am very surprised that the officers did not press him, and clearly they made comments that they appreciated his candour and things like that, and I am certainly surprised that they did not press him for a full account. Clearly I cannot explain that, but looking at all the evidence and analysing it I think there is sufficient room for doubt that Mr Mitchell gave an absolutely full account. Clearly, as I say, they should have pressed him on that but they didn’t, but I think there is room for doubt.
Q67 Nicola Blackwood: In other words, they complain that he did not give a full statement about questions that they did not ask him?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I think you have to interpret it that there is doubt as to whether Mr Mitchell gave an absolutely full account. I understand what you are saying. That is why I am surprised the officers did not press him, but I think if you look at other accounts where there is more detail than is given in that meeting-
Q68 Nicola Blackwood: It is media detail. It is media commentary rather than a transcript, so it is difficult to say. Can I move on to your second point? That was about premeditation and whether the police officers were-as you say in your report-caught in the headlights and naive about dealing with the media, or whether they were in fact aware of what they were doing. We know from a bit of PR that the Gaunt Brothers have put out, that they in fact released a press release about the meeting that was going to happen with Mr Mitchell on 12 October to ensure that there was maximum publicity about the event. We also know that the police officers arrived half an hour early, in order to give interviews, and they in fact stated during that period that if Mr Mitchell did not give a satisfactory explanation they would be calling for his resignation. How does that not count as premeditation? I do not understand how it works for misconduct and so on, so I am trying to understand how the criteria would fit.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: The first thing I would say is that we had a very narrow remit for this investigation, a remit agreed with the IPCC. If I might quote from the first of those, "To investigate whether Inspector Ken Mackaill provided a false account of the Federation meeting with Rt Honourable Andrew Mitchell MP on 12 October 2012 to the media in a deliberate attempt to discredit Mr Mitchell". So it was clearly a very narrow investigation in that sense, and whether it was a false account given with that deliberate attempt. I am not convinced that it was a deliberate attempt. I think the result was that the public were misled, but I don’t think it was a deliberate attempt to mislead.
Q69 Chair: Yes, you did make that clear earlier on. Thank you. Can you advise the Committee, the worst thing that can happen to somebody who is guilty of misconduct is what?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: At a misconduct meeting as opposed to a hearing a final written warning.
Q70 Chair: A final written warning?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Chair: This is all about a final written warning in the end?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q71 Chair: What is the worst thing that can happen with gross misconduct?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Dismissal.
Q72 Chair: Is there anything before misconduct or does it just go to misconduct and then gross misconduct?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Underneath misconduct would be management action.
Q73 Mr Winnick: The meeting between Mr Mitchell and the Police Federation, the three representatives on 12 October last year, looking at your investigator’s report version A on page 20 it states, "The meeting is concluded by Mr Mitchell saying, ‘Well, I’ve been absolutely clear with you and I obviously ask you to accept my word’". What I want to ask you, Chief Inspector, is this. What else could Mr Mitchell have said at the meeting? He said that he had been extremely rude to the police in Downing Street, that he used the F word. He does not deny that. He apologised, but he strenuously denied using the other allegations made against him. Leaving aside whether he was telling the truth or not, I am not asking you to come to a conclusion on that, Chief Inspector. That is not what I am asking you. What I am asking you is there anything else that Mr Mitchell could have said at the meeting other than what he did?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes. I do not know exactly the period of time that we are talking about. I think Mr Mitchell talks about 40 seconds. Mr Mitchell is absolutely clear about what he did not say, but I think there is doubt as to whether he gave a full account of every word that was spoken between him and the officers in Downing Street, and that is why I came to the conclusion I did.
Q74 Mr Winnick: What leads you to the view that Mr Mitchell was not clear or honest-or whatever word one wants to use-on what he did not say to the police officers at Downing Street?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Sorry, I think he was absolutely clear about what he did not say, but I think there is room-
Q75 Mr Winnick: He admitted what he did say, yes.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: He admitted one element of what he said, yes, which is the use of the F word.
Q76 Mr Winnick: But denied the use of the word "pleb" and the rest of it, yes.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q77 Mr Winnick: What else could he have said other than his account of what occurred?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: That is difficult for me to say because obviously I don’t know what was said. But I think there are fuller accounts now, compared to the ones that were given in the meeting. Therefore, there must be doubt as to whether a full account was given. Therefore, that is why I made the conclusions that I did.
Q78 Mr Winnick: What you are saying, Chief Inspector, is there remains a question mark over precisely what occurred on that evening in Downing Street.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Absolutely. Obviously this is an investigation that is an offshoot of the main investigation.
Chair: Mr Ruane, we have a number of other witnesses.
Chris Ruane: I will be quick.
Chair: Before you say anything, sorry, Mr Ruane-[Interruption.] Order, could we have the mobile phone switched off, please? Nicola Blackwood has a declaration of interest.
Nicola Blackwood: Yes. I would like to say that I was a researcher to Andrew Mitchell some time ago.
Chair: And of course, as you know, because we are all Members of the House, Chief Inspector, we all know him as well. Yes, Chris Ruane.
Q79 Chris Ruane: Can I return to the issue of the minutes? In all the meetings that I attend in the constituency or here, minutes are usually taken or at least action points; action minutes are taken. Are you absolutely sure that in your meeting on that day minutes were not kept and is this normal procedure? How did you know the outcome of that meeting if minutes or action points were not taken? How did you take that information away?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: First of all, in all my meetings with the IPCC I did take action points and those are reflected in my policy book. This meeting was my opportunity to brief the Appropriate Authorities on the investigation and on our findings. It was then understood by me that the Appropriate Authorities would then make their own determination, which they did by way of a written file note. Obviously that was shared with me within 24 hours, and on the basis of that the final report was made. So I am sure that the people present at the meeting would have made some of their own notes, but nobody was delegated to take official minutes of that meeting.
Q80 Chris Ruane: Is that normal procedure?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: It is difficult for me to answer that because I don’t think I have ever been in this situation before.
Q81 Chair: It is pretty extraordinary, isn’t it, Chief Inspector, looking back, that at a meeting of that importance nobody should have taken minutes?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: It is easy to be wise with hindsight. I make my key decisions in my policy file.
Chair: I understand. We are all wiser with hindsight, everyone sitting round this table, but given that this had been running for a year it would have been sensible for there to be minutes taken. Anyway, what would be very helpful to the Committee is if you could let us have a copy of what you have put into your policy notebook on this issue. We will be writing to all those present-including Penny Fishwick-and we will ask them for their notes because we would be very surprised if notes were not taken.
Q82 Mark Reckless: Chief Inspector, I believe you said just now to Mr Ruane that you shared your conclusions with the Appropriate Authorities. You said earlier in your evidence the IPCC directed you not to share conclusions with the Appropriate Authorities.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Mark Reckless: Why did you then do so?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Clearly they did not have the full written conclusions, but I think it would have been very odd and rather illogical to have briefed the Appropriate Authorities without making clear what my conclusions were. Clearly there is a difference between making your overall conclusion clear and going in great detail into your rationale for that. I thought it was very, very important, with a difference of opinion, that they were aware from that point of what that difference of opinion was.
Q83 Mark Reckless: I do not see the relevance of this difference of opinion. You said earlier that you were the person appointed to investigate the complaint under the statute. Were you also approved by the IPCC to do that?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q84 Mark Reckless: You do not benefit from the statutory scheme of delegation for that statutory role, and all through this it appears that someone else is referred to as the investigating officer and somehow because he disagreed with you then all these other things had to be done. Surely you were the investigating officer?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: There is a slight conflict between the IPCC’s wording, which is quite clear that I am the investigating officer. In internal police language, DI Smith would have been the investigator. I would be the senior investigating officer. It is semantics.
Q85 Mark Reckless: The primary legislation is clear, you are that person appointed to investigate the complaint.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q86 Mark Reckless: Then you are the person who has to put in under 22(3) that you are the person appointed under paragraph 17. You have to submit a report of your investigation to the Commission and copy that to the Appropriate Authority. Instead of doing that you gave a different version to the Appropriate Authority, then changed it and then put in someone else’s views as the final report.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: It is a supervised inquiry by the IPCC. I had a meeting on 31 July where I am absolutely clear that the IPCC directed me to forward a copy of the report without the conclusions.
Q87 Chair: In answer to Mr Reckless’ question to you, you said that you disobeyed that instruction.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I guess, in effect, yes, I did.
Q88 Chair: You did, and you did show the conclusions. That is the point Mr Reckless was making.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q89 Mark Reckless: The primary legislation at 22(6) to schedule 3 of the 2002 Act says that the person submitting a report then refers to them, "including all such matters in his report as he thinks fit". Did you do that?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: No. As I say, I think procedurally not every "i" might have been dotted and every "t" crossed but I was acting with the full knowledge of the IPCC. I was acting with the full knowledge of the Appropriate Authorities. I was acting with the full knowledge of our legal adviser. None of us around the table have picked that up at any time and I think it is important, obviously, that the key thing is the outcomes.
Q90 Mark Reckless: You were not acting as you should have been according to law.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes, I was doing my best and I was obeying the instructions of the IPCC who were supervising the inquiry.
Q91 Mark Reckless: Therefore, do you think that your boss the Chief Constable is right to rescind his decision to find no misconduct?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I am not sure it is really for me to comment on that.
Q92 Mark Reckless: That was your view.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: My view is clear. I have made it clear to the Committee and it remains the same.
Q93 Mark Reckless: So you consider there is a case for misconduct?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes.
Q94 Lorraine Fullbrook: Chief Inspector, please can you tell the Committee exactly what is missing from the account of what happened in the transcript of the recording to your perception of a full explanation of what happened in Downing Street? Exactly what is missing for you?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: You are asking me very particular detail.
Lorraine Fullbrook: Absolutely.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: To be honest, I would have to go back through the report-
Q95 Lorraine Fullbrook: It is quite germane to the outcome of this. You made a recommendation based on whether it was a full account or not, so exactly what was missing from the difference between the account and a full account?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: There are aspects certainly of an account given in the Telegraph later that were not given during that meeting. In actual fact, Mr Mitchell does not give huge detail. I understand why and I understand his account. He does not want to get into a fire fight-as he describes it-with the officers. He is absolutely clear about what he did not say but I am not convinced that he gave every detail. I cannot-
Q96 Lorraine Fullbrook: Can you tell the Committee exactly what it is that you require for your version of a full account?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Every word that was said between Mr Mitchell and the officers in Downing Street. If you want me to go further than that it would take some time for me to go through all the papers.
Q97 Chair: We do not want you to do that today. Thank you very much.
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I am very happy to take that point away and come back to you in detail.
Chair: Would you come back to us? If you could write to us that would be very helpful.
Q98 Steve McCabe: Chief Inspector, as a very experienced investigator, what mark would you give yourself out of 10 for the role you have played in this matter?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I don’t think that is a question I can answer. I accept that there may have been procedural issues, but I would ask you to remember that everybody involved was fully aware of what was going on. None of us picked up any procedural irregularities at the time, including the IPCC. My understanding was as a supervised inquiry that I should obey the instructions. We had a series of meetings all the way through this investigation and there was a clearly documented-
Q99 Steve McCabe: I guess that is less than 10. Is it less than five?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: I am not prepared to put a number on it.
Q100 Chair: Mr McCabe’s self-assessment does not attract you. We are coming to the end of your evidence, Chief Inspector, and you have given evidence in a very open and transparent way. We are extremely grateful for what you have said to us today. But this leaves the public with the impression that here we have a senior investigating officer who had conclusions of misconduct and then has a meeting with two Assistant Chief Constables. The conclusions disappear and another report is then submitted to the IPCC. So for the public, who are not part of the machinery of policing and complaints, there is this huge explanation, is there not, as to what has happened. At the end of the day, you have been vindicated. We will hear evidence later from the Chief Constable of West Mercia that has been submitted confidentially to this Committee, which we will publish at 5.30pm, which totally vindicates your view. You must be delighted about that vindication considering your first conclusions were removed because he is backing you up today, isn’t he?
Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams: Yes. I guess so. I would like to make clear that no pressure has ever been put on me to change the report. As far as I was concerned, the important thing is I came to a view, I gave my opinion, my recommendation. That was made. It has not changed. However, I am not the Appropriate Authority and it is absolutely for the Appropriate Authority to make the final decision. That is why I submitted a report as I did.
Chair: We understand. We will hear evidence about this later, that the Appropriate Authorities have been overruled for whatever reason, and that your original decision to have a relook at this is going to be vindicated. Thank you very much for giving evidence to us today. We would be grateful for a copy of those minutes. We are grateful to you for coming down here at short notice and for the transparency and openness of your evidence.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Dame Anne Owers, Chair, Independent Police Complaints Commission, and Deborah Glass, Deputy Chair, Independent Police Complaints Commission, gave evidence.
Q101 Chair: Deborah Glass, thank you for coming in and Dame Anne Owers. We wanted you to come, Deborah Glass, but the Chair indicated she wished to come with you. I wonder whether on reflection you feel that the IPCC made a huge mistake in not conducting this investigation right at the start. You admit that this was an extremely high profile case. As the Committee has said in previous reports, the IPCC is an extremely important body. Surely you should have conducted this investigation.
Deborah Glass: I think it was a reasonable decision to take at the time, Chairman.
Chair: Sorry, you will need to speak up.
Deborah Glass: I think it was a reasonable decision to take at the time. We are obviously aware of the profile of the case. Would it assist the Committee if I set out some of the chronology here just to put this in context?
Q102 Chair: I think we know the chronology. We would like to know about your decision. Why did you not do this, bearing in mind that subsequently last Tuesday, in a very important letter you cast doubt on the whole process. Not the investigation of facts but the conclusions. Why did you not do this in the first place? Isn’t that why we have an IPCC?
Deborah Glass: A couple of points to make. First, there was no issue with the investigation itself. When the referral was made to us from West Mercia this was about a week after we had a referral to the Metropolitan Police about the original Downing Street incident. The decision was taken on that case to supervise it. Again we can have a judgment call. We had conversations about that. That was taken because we do not have the resources at the moment to deal with investigation on that scale. I would like us to have those resources of course, but we did not have the resources when that referral came in.
When the West Mercia referral came in, firstly it was linked. We did not know how big it was going to be so a consistent position was made in relation to that case.
Q103 Chair: In principle, it should not have been big. It was a 45 minute meeting that turned out to have been recorded by Mr Mitchell. Many of the statements were made on open television. Everyone saw what the statements were. It did not seem like a big thing to do, did it?
Deborah Glass: We could not know at the outset what we were going to find in this case, bearing in mind that the Metropolitan Police investigation was essentially into allegations of conspiracy.
Q104 Chair: Having looked at the case, the intervention points that you had with the IPCC was when the draft report came to you with the conclusions attached to the draft report, which we are calling report A because there are so many versions of this report. You were happy with those conclusions, were you, or you seem to be?
Deborah Glass: Not entirely, no. When I saw the draft report, first of all I saw that it had two sets of conclusions. That clearly is not appropriate. A report can only have one set of conclusions. I raised that. I made that quite clear to our investigator, who I know passed that on to the investigating officer. But I was not happy with the conclusion of misconduct, and what I said at the time was that I could not see how the evidence had changed since-
Q105 Chair: Sorry, you were not happy with the conclusion that there ought to be a misconduct hearing?
Deborah Glass: As opposed to gross misconduct.
Chair: I see.
Deborah Glass: What had happened in this case, if I just can go back a moment?
Chair: Yes, please.
Deborah Glass: When the referrals were made to us they were what is called conduct referrals. What the three forces were saying in effect is that, "We think that there is misconduct to be investigated". The assessment that the investigating officer did at the outset was gross misconduct. What I was thinking-
Chair: Your expectation.
Deborah Glass: My expectation was in relation to gross misconduct. I saw the two sets of conclusions. Clearly the senior officer had overruled the junior one. I was concerned about the first set of analysis that did not make a lot of sense. In relation to the senior officer’s analysis I thought the questions he was asking were about the right ones. I did not completely agree, though, with his analysis of the evidence.
Q106 Chair: Yes. But you are telling us something more today than you said in your statement last week. I was expecting you to say your concern was the fact that there were no conclusions in the final report. You are telling this Committee that it should have been upgraded from a misconduct to a gross misconduct hearing?
Deborah Glass: I have never seen a report with no conclusions, and I have to say I am completely baffled by what I have just heard about an IPCC direction because that is new to me.
Q107 Chair: You did not give an instruction or Mr Bimson who works for the IPCC or Ms Bimson. I do not know whether it is a man or a woman.
Deborah Glass: It is Mister.
Chair: Mr Bimson did not give an instruction to anyone to say, "We want a report without conclusions"?
Deborah Glass: I certainly did not. I obviously cannot speak for Mr Bimson. All I have is the note he sent me of that meeting, which very briefly says, "After the initial report was completed I met with the IO and deputy on 31 July to discuss the report and the need for it to have one set of conclusions, which they were happy with".
Q108 Chair: No one who reads reasonable English would take that to mean, "We don’t want a conclusion"?
Deborah Glass: That was certainly never my intention. I cannot say there is a misunderstanding there. Of course a report should have a set of conclusions. What we said is it should have one set of conclusions. Plainly getting a report with two sets could not be right and there needed to be a single set.
Q109 Chair: I do not know if you have a swivel chair, but you must have fallen off your chair when you then received the final report that had no conclusions whatsoever.
Deborah Glass: The final report had a conclusion of "no case to answer" and I was absolutely astonished.
Q110 Chair: At the decision? You thought it should be gross misconduct?
Deborah Glass: Absolutely astonished. That is what I was expecting.
Chair: Gross misconduct?
Deborah Glass: Yes.
Q111 Chair: Therefore, do you think that the police officers lied?
Deborah Glass: I want to be clear here on what I have said in my statement. This is a case to answer and if I can read it so I can get the words precisely into the record. What I have said is, "My view is that a misconduct panel should determine whether the three officers gave a false account of the meeting in a deliberate attempt to support their Metropolitan Police colleague and discredit Mr Mitchell in pursuit of a wider agenda". So it is not-
Q112 Chair: You finished off by saying, "In my opinion the evidence indicates an issue of honesty and integrity, not merely naive or poor professionalism".
Deborah Glass: Yes, exactly. My point here is the evidence should be heard by a panel. I am not judge and jury here. That is not my role but I would have expected a misconduct panel to have heard the evidence and made that determination.
Q113 Chair: You have been doing these cases for how many years?
Deborah Glass: Getting on for 13 years.
Q114 Chair: So you know a bit about police complaints?
Deborah Glass: I do, yes.
Q115 Chair: Looking back over those 13 years-I know you are about to leave the IPCC on 31 October-have you had other cases of this kind when the draft reports have come in saying, "Misconduct"? You felt it should be gross misconduct and then it came back with the words "No case to answer".
Deborah Glass: There is nothing inherently suspicious about a change from a draft report to a final report. I do want to make that clear.
Chair: No, that is why they are called drafts.
Deborah Glass: Yes, exactly. What is quite normal between a draft and a final is there is further analysis of the evidence. It is tested. Challenges are put in and conclusions may well change. But from what I have seen, what I could not understand was how the conclusions could have been reached that were.
Q116 Chair: Ms Glass, are you telling us that you felt that the two accounts did not match up, there was a false account given to the media?
Deborah Glass: What I am saying very clearly is that I thought there was a case to answer in relation to that. That evidence, the transcript, the full recording, which I listened to very carefully, the broadcast media, which I watched, the interviews, all of that should be put before a panel.
Q117 Chair: Do you now regret not doing this investigation yourself having looked at what has happened?
Deborah Glass: It wasn’t actually about the investigation. Obviously if I had known that I was going to have a significant disagreement at the end then clearly. But by the time the investigation was concluded, and I took advice on this, "Can I re-determine this now?" and the advice was very clear-
Q118 Chair: Can you re-determine?
Deborah Glass: No, the advice I received was very clear. The investigation was concluded and it would have been an abuse of process to re-determine this simply to rewrite the conclusions.
Q119 Chair: Your legal advice is there is nothing further the IPCC could do?
Deborah Glass: That is why I published because all I could do at that stage was say, "This is the disagreement and the reasons for it".
Q120 Mr Winnick: At the end of the findings, Ms Glass, you say, "The officer also confirmed we all agreed before the meeting that it was obviously an integrity issue in relation to the records" and so on. Then you say, "In the circumstances it is difficult to see what Mr Mitchell could have said to the officers, short of agreeing with the Metropolitan Police Service Officers about whether it would affect the position they were likely to take after the meeting". From that I take it that it is your view Mr Mitchell was as frank as he possibly could be in his account, in his interpretation of what happened at the Downing Street gates when he was refused permission to take his cycle through. Is that so?
Deborah Glass: I think the transcript speaks for itself. He answers the questions that he is asked. He is not asked to give a full account. What I felt was there was a kind of ex post facto justification that, just because he had given more detail later, he should have given it then when he wasn’t asked for it. That is what I was reflecting in that-
Q121 Mr Winnick: So he could not have said more, given his account of events, than what he did?
Deborah Glass: It certainly seems to me that he was answering the questions he was asked.
Q122 Mr Clappison: I wonder if you can help us with this. You told us that you came strongly to the conclusion that there was a case to answer and you are disagreeing with the police authorities. Did you make that known to them?
Deborah Glass: I did. As soon as I saw the final report I called the Deputy Chief Constable of West Mercia and I said, "What is this? How did this come about?" and he said to me that the three forces had discussed this, they had taken legal advice and this was the view of all three of them. I continued to express a certain amount of astonishment at this and he said, "Look, it is really important that you listen to the recording for yourself". I said, "Absolutely, I am going to do that. So I won’t make any judgments over the telephone over this conversation, but what I will do is go back, get all of the evidence, review all of that". Which I did and I said, "I will write to you with what I think". I wrote to the Deputy Chief Constable on 6 September with a very detailed-
Q123 Chair: Does this have a copy of this letter?
Deborah Glass: It does not but I would be happy to provide it to you.
Chair: I would be most grateful. In fact it would be very helpful, Ms Glass, if you could let us have a copy of all the correspondence in respect of this case because what you have said today is very useful.
Q124 Mr Clappison: We know this now because you made the statement you made. It came out on your own volition out of the process last Tuesday with your statement. We have been given written evidence by Mr Andy Parker, who is the Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police. Can I just very briefly read this to you? He says, "I have very recently been advised by the Chief Constable of West Mercia that referral of the report without the recommendations, and the referrals to the Appropriate Authorities prior to its formal referral to the IPCC both constitute procedural irregularity. I have also been advised by CC Shaw that the IPCC’s initial view is that they no longer have locus over this investigation and it is for the individual forces to determine what, if any, action to take". Were there in your view any procedural irregularities as far as the IPCC were concerned?
Deborah Glass: Not as far as we were concerned but obviously I have begun hearing about some particular irregularities within the investigation itself, as between the conclusions and the final determination stage.
Q125 Mr Clappison: Somebody who is reading Mr Parker’s report for the first time would have no idea that you had disagreed with him, or that you had given your view that there should be an investigation. It rather ignores that all together. It leaves quite a different impression to say that you have said that you no longer have any locus over the investigation and it is up to the individual forces.
Deborah Glass: All I can say in this case is that I made my position absolutely clear to one Deputy Chief Constable acting on behalf of three, and I wanted them to have the benefit of my view, which was my absolutely independent judgment in relation to the evidence and its conclusions, before they made any final determinations.
Dame Anne Owers: If I might-
Chair: Yes, Dame Anne.
Dame Anne Owers: I think legally it is obviously right that in a supervised investigation, precisely for the reasons that Ms Glass has said, we cannot then halt that just because we want different conclusions to be reached. But I think the Appropriate Authorities could have been in no doubt what Ms Glass’ view was, expressed very forcibly in the letter to DCC Chesterman. To that extent, they did have the benefit of an independent assessment of the evidence. They may not have had an independent investigation but they certainly had all the benefit of an independent assessment of where the evidence led to, but they chose not to follow that route.
Q126 Chris Ruane: This was a 45 second incident that was videotaped. Unfortunately not audio taped. It has gone on for over a year. It has cost £237,000 according to yourself. It has involved an investigation with three police forces with inconclusive conclusions, your own IPCC report last week and a Select Committee inquiry this week. Do you think the whole process could have been shortened? It has resulted in the ending of a ministerial career and eight police officers being arrested, and all of the uncertainty for all of those individuals and their families. Do you think this could have been foreshortened? There could have been a shorter process if the IPCC had become involved at an earlier stage?
Deborah Glass: I think you are referring to the Metropolitan Police investigation rather than the West Mercia one that we are discussing here, which was not about the Downing Street incident. It was about a 45 minute meeting that Mr Mitchell had with three Federation representatives.
Q127 Chair: I think what Mr Ruane said, taken as a whole, the whole thing cost-
Dame Anne Owers: If I may I would want to go back to the answer that Ms Glass gave earlier, which is that-as this Committee well knows and as you said in your last report-we are not a body that the moment has a vast number of resources in the shape of people. If we had had to take this independently and had to do what the Metropolitan Police Service did, for example, and take statements from hundreds of officers we simply would not have had the resources to deploy quickly to that.
Chair: Of course. I think we get the resources point and we have-
Dame Anne Owers: So I think the short answer to your question is, no, it would not have shortened things.
Chair: Thank you.
Q128 Michael Ellis: Ms Glass, you have been pretty emphatic that, as far as you are concerned, the Chief Inspector was not directed to send a report to his chief officers in the way that he has described. Do you stand by that?
Deborah Glass: Certainly I gave no such direction. I obviously cannot speak for our investigator, but there is no information I have on the record to do that. I would just add that the IPCC has no power to issue a direction of this sort, so it does seem rather surprising.
Q129 Michael Ellis: Is it correct that under the Police Reform Act it is irregular and unlawful to do such a thing?
Deborah Glass: That is why I am-
Michael Ellis: I see that your chief, Dame Anne, is agreeing with that.
Dame Anne Owers: Yes.
Q130 Michael Ellis: The act of sending the report to the chief officers, in the way that happened in this case, was unlawful and irregular? Dame Anne?
Dame Anne Owers: The answer is I do not know. The best thing for us to do at this point, given that this is new information for us, is to talk to our investigating officer and to write to the Committee on this specific point. I really think that would be-
Q131 Michael Ellis: Is it your understanding, Dame Anne, that it is outwith the procedure normally followed under the Police Reform Act 2002?
Dame Anne Owers: You are right that if we are managing an investigation we have direction and control. This was a supervised investigation and we do not under the Police Reform Act have powers of direction.
Q132 Michael Ellis: The Chief Inspector said that he was absolutely clear that he was following instructions in doing that. The Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, David Shaw, says in a statement to this Committee, "I have been able to ascertain that there was an apparent misunderstanding between the IPCC and the West Mercia Police, which led them to understand that they could send the investigator’s report. This was wrong as a matter of law". So the Chief Inspector says he was absolutely clear. The Chief Constable says it was a misunderstanding, and it seems you are agreeing with me that this was a procedural irregularity at the very least and potentially unlawful. Am I right?
Deborah Glass: Obviously, I cannot comment on what-
Q133 Chair: Ms Glass, we will publish the documents that Mr Ellis has referred to at 5.30pm today. I am sorry you do not have a copy but he is giving an accurate reflection of what is being said.
Dame Anne Owers: As I say, I think the best thing for us to do is to go back and put this point absolutely to the investigating officer and to write to the Committee.
Q134 Michael Ellis: Forgive me, Dame Anne, there have been lots of reports the IPCC have done on many numerous different issues involving lots of different police forces. Have you known this to happen before?
Deborah Glass: I am certainly not aware of it.
Q135 Michael Ellis: In your 13 years it has not happened before?
Deborah Glass: Can I say what ought to happen? What ought to happen is the investigating officer-in fact, your knowledge of the Police Reform Act is excellent on this point, Mr Ellis, more than many chief constables-ought to complete an investigation by the investigating officer. The Appropriate Authority is a different body and the Appropriate Authority is quite at liberty to disagree with the conclusions of the investigating officer. They are different processes that you would expect to have followed.
Q136 Michael Ellis: Yes, but what has happened here is that the Chief Inspector has come to a conclusion and that conclusion has been usurped, it seems to me. The reality is that whereas the Chief Inspector-legally under statute, the investigating officer-was under the view that there ought to be misconduct proceedings, the final report ends up that there should be no misconduct proceedings and there is no case to answer. Whereas you, Ms Glass, felt that it went even further than misconduct and should be gross misconduct. Are we dealing here with a whitewash?
Deborah Glass: I think we are certainly dealing with some confusion. One would need to clarify how we got to the position that we did. I have asked the questions and I have no doubt you will be asking questions of the individuals.
Q137 Michael Ellis: But I am asking you. In your considered judgment, with the vast experience that you have-and you are close to leaving the IPCC, I acknowledge that-do you feel instinctively that this is a whitewash or an attempt at a whitewash? I note the statement that the Chairman referred to early that you gave, which I commend you for, which says, in part, "The police officers had a responsibility to present a fair and accurate picture. Their motive seems plain. They were running a successful, high-profile, anti-cuts campaign and the account that he [Mitchell] provided to them did not fit with their agenda". In view of the strength of your statement, do you feel that this is showing characteristics of a whitewash?
Deborah Glass: I thought the investigation was thorough and sound, I have no issue at all with the investigation and I thought the conclusions were wrong, and I have said that.
Chair: Thank you. I think you have said that several times, that you feel the investigation was properly conducted, everyone thinks it was, but it is the conclusions that were problem. I understand that. Nicola Blackwood then Mark Reckless.
Q138 Nicola Blackwood: This was a supervised investigation, which means that you should have known what was going on, as far as I can understand, but you do not seem to have known what happened with the reports when they were sent to the chief constables and so on. I am trying to understand what supervision means in this context. You have there a letter from Mr Bimson, which does not say a great deal, and that is really one of the reasons why we are in this mess, because you disagree now with the constables of this investigation but you cannot do anything about it. Had you known earlier what was going on, perhaps you could have intervened. Could you explain exactly what the supervision meant in the period following the investigation and during the writing and negotiation of these reports?
Deborah Glass: At the moment of conclusions, supervision is essentially finished, because you are supervising the investigation. At the point at which the investigating officer has finished the investigation and is writing conclusions, there may be some discussions, and we saw the draft report.
It was quite a brief period. The draft report was received on 29 July, which had the two sets of conclusions, and I have described what we did in response to that. I saw that report. I said to our investigator, "This does not make a lot of sense to me. First of all, it needs to have one set of conclusions, and I cannot see how the evidence has changed since the assessment of gross misconduct", which the investigator had made at the outset.
There was a meeting between our investigator and the Chief Inspector the following week, at which this was discussed. I have reported the very short aspect of that that I know. As I say, I have heard nothing of any direction to withhold-I would need to find out about that. I simply do not know. At that point we were expecting to get back a final report. Between a draft report and a final report, the report would be with the investigating officer to finalise and then our next involvement would be the final report, and that is what happened.
Q139 Nicola Blackwood: Your officer, Mr Bimson, did not come back with any concerns that there was a potential for downgrading from misconduct to no case to answer?
Deborah Glass: No.
Q140 Nicola Blackwood: He did not come back with minutes from those meetings or any material for you to review?
Deborah Glass: No. Nothing gave me any concern until I saw that final report on 28 August, which concluded no case to answer. Until that point I had no inkling that this was going to be anything other than, at the very least, misconduct, and I expected to see gross misconduct.
Q141 Mark Reckless: In that final report you received on 28 August, towards the end of the conclusion it says, "For these reasons and on the balance of probabilities, the IO does not consider that the officers have a case to answer for misconduct". Who do you think that reference to the IO refers to?
Deborah Glass: this is now a very good question, from what we have heard. I would have expected that to be Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams’ conclusions. It is open to the Appropriate Authority to then take a different view.
Q142 Mark Reckless: The law requires, at 22(2)(3) of the Schedule for Complaints, "A person appointed under paragraph 17 or 18 [for supervised or managed investigation] shall: (a) submit a report on his investigation to the Commission; and (b) send a copy of that report to the Appropriate Authority". But is not the actual position that the final report you received is not the report of that person appointed to investigate the complaint but is of someone else, Inspector Smith, as instructed by the Appropriate Authority, and you have not received the final report as provided for by the legislation?
Deborah Glass: This is now becoming clear. You would expect the final report to be that of the investigating officer and the Appropriate Authorities are perfectly entitled in the legislation to take a different view.
Q143 Mark Reckless: But in the event it appears to be of the investigating officer’s deputy, who is incorrectly referred to as the IO in that report.
Deborah Glass: We are looking at the same information. I can clarify no further.
Q144 Mark Reckless: Assuming that is the case, does that not mean that it is open to you, as the IPCC, under the legislation to at any time, "Change the basis of the investigation from a supervised to a managed or independent investigation"?
Deborah Glass: I wish it were so, and that is the advice I took when I received this final report with conclusions that I simply found extraordinary.
Q145 Mark Reckless: Could you therefore go back to your legal adviser and clarify whether the final report you received is from the investigating officer you appointed or is from someone else who was incorrectly described as the IO?
Deborah Glass: I am obviously happy to get further advice on this, but my understanding is that it is pretty clear. I cannot redetermine this simply because there has been some sort of irregularity around the conclusions.
Q146 Mark Reckless: But the law says you can come in and redetermine the method of investigation at any time. Why do you not do that and make it a managed or independent investigation and let that run its proper course?
Deborah Glass: If I could have done so lawfully I would certainly have done so. The clear advice I had is that simply when the investigation was concluded, to redetermine something simple to rewrite the conclusions would have been an abuse of process.
Q147 Mark Reckless: That clear advice was on the presumption that it had concluded and the final report you received was from the investigating officer you appointed.
Deborah Glass: I don’t think I want to give myself legal advice in front of this Committee.
Q148 Chair: No, we are not seeking to do that. The point Mr Reckless is making is at the end of this whole process, if the chief constables come to you and they say, "This cannot be handled by the police any more, even by another police officer outside the force, will you look at this again for us", you cannot say no, can you?
Deborah Glass: If there is some way of doing this lawfully, then I would certainly do that, because that was-
Q149 Chair: At the moment you are refusing on the grounds of legal advice you have been given, because the determination has been made and therefore you cannot open up a redetermination, even though Mr Reckless invites you to intervene because of the irregularities that we have heard at this Committee today. You feel you cannot do that because that is the advice you have received.
Deborah Glass: I can get further advice on it.
Q150 Chair: If you could do that, that would be very helpful. If the chief constables say to us and we say to them, "Is it not best that the IPCC now deals with this", which was apparently what they wanted in the first place, you would take legal advice and see whether that was possible.
Deborah Glass: I would be very happy to do that, but I would just add that the chief constables have had the benefit of my independent assessment already.
Q151 Chair: Of course. Is there anything wrong with the chief constables or the Appropriate Authorities, whatever they are called now, making the decision themselves now?
Deborah Glass: Not at all. What I am quite clear about is that they themselves have the power to take a fresh decision.
Q152 Chair: The chief constables of West Mercia, West Midlands and Warwickshire can themselves make this decision?
Deborah Glass: That is my understanding, yes.
Q153 Dr Huppert: Can I go back to the original decision about the form of the investigation? It seems to me that is the key. Firstly, just to confirm, the letter of referral to the IPCC from DCC Chesterman, am I correct in saying it said, "This has the potential to be a high-profile investigation. There is also potential for the impartiality of the police investigation to be questioned". That is correct. It is also correct to say their clear preference was for an independent investigation. Is that right?
Deborah Glass: or at least supervised, is what it goes on to say.
Q154 Dr Huppert: But they clearly preferred independent.
Deborah Glass: Yes.
Q155 Dr Huppert: You said that the reasons were concerns about the Metropolitan and resources. Section 15(3) of the Police Reform Act says that there are two factors that must be considered, and it does not list others. Those are the seriousness of the case and the public interest. Would you agree that if you look at the seriousness of the case and the public interest, this would clearly score very highly for both of them?
Deborah Glass: It would, yes.
Q156 Dr Huppert: Given that those are the only two factors on which the decision is supposed to be made, why was a decision taken, of the four options available, to take the second lowest and one which was not the preference of the recommendations?
Deborah Glass: Because we live in the real world. The public interest is also about, "Can I deploy to this? Can we deliver?" To take a decision on an independent investigation is all very well and is admirable, but if we cannot, behind that, deliver the kind of investigation that is needed, then that would not have been a sensible-
Q157 Dr Huppert: In other cases where we have spoken it Dame Anne about issues, the IPCC have said, "We need more resources to investigate this case" and the Government has generally supplied those. I do not know if there have been occasions if it has necessarily been everything that is wanted, but there have been extra resources. Was a request made for extra resources?
Deborah Glass: There was not in this case. What we have learnt-and we know this from Hillsborough-is we can deal with major inquiries but we also know that we cannot take them on quickly, so we have had to resource ourselves for that. Unlike the police, who have mutual aid arrangements-if they need 30 officers, they can go to another police force and borrow them from one day to the next-we cannot do that. To have got the scale of investigative capacity we would have needed to have taken on these two initially linked inquiries and it would simply not have been feasible in the short term. I would have loved to have done it but it just was not practical.
Q158 Dr Huppert: There has been criticism of the IPCC before of having police investigating police. This one seems to have a whole chain of police investigating police, and I hope there will be some lessons learnt for the future that this was the sort of case which desperately needed not to be looked at by the police themselves, just for transparency so that we did not have this sort of mess.
Deborah Glass: I think I would not disagree. Of course, we are talking in the context of the statement the Home Secretary made in February that the public interest and the interests of the police is best served by the IPCC having the capacity to do more independent investigations, and we agree with that. I would just that at the moment, given where we are-and I will not trouble the Committee with my views on resources again-is that in a number of major investigations, like, for example, Operation Elveden, Operation Herne, the only thing that we can do with our current resources is to supervise, and sometimes only supervise part of them. That, for us, is very unsatisfactory. This Committee made comments in its previous report about supervising investigations, and we are with you on that.
Chair: I think we all agree with that and we will certainly revisit this again. Lorraine Fullbrook and Steve McCabe, and that is the end of this session.
Q159 Lorraine Fullbrook: I would like to ask what do the IPCC do from here on this case.
Deborah Glass: All I could do was publish the statement I made last week. The reason I published it was that was the end of the road for us. I did not have the power to direct proceedings in the circumstances. Given that it was a matter of record that it was a supervised inquiry, and given that at the end of that there was a quite fundamental disagreement about the conclusions, I felt I had a duty to put that disagreement on the record, and that is what I did.
Q160 Lorraine Fullbrook: So nothing else happens from the IPCC, knowing the facts of the case so far?
Deborah Glass: I am now being asked-and further information is coming to light today to suggest that there may be some legal avenue for reopening this. I do not know the answer to that.
Chair: We appreciate that you will need to take advice. We do not wish you to make a decision now.
Q161 Steve McCabe: You acknowledged earlier that it is quite common for a draft report to change before we end up with the final report, but I am wondering is it common in this case or are we witnessing an extraordinary, quite inexplicable decision by the police that defies belief? Is that what has happened? They appear to have taken a conclusion and gone through a 180-degree turn on it. Is that common or is that something you have not come across before?
Deborah Glass: I have already expressed my amazement about this.
Q162 Steve McCabe: Everyone should draw that conclusion that it is almost impossible to understand who they could have arrived at this decision?
Deborah Glass: All I can say is that to me the evidence and the conclusions were so at odds that I needed to put that on the public record.
Q163 Chair: Given that we have a process and that we have been waiting a year for this, because it was 12 October last year when this meeting took place, where do you think this leaves Mr Mitchell? Do you think he is owed an apology for what has happened?
Deborah Glass: I think that this is a matter between the police forces and Mr Mitchell. My concern is around a case to answer for potential misconduct.
Q164 Chair: And you have made it very clear that you think there should be. Dame Anne, were you surprised at the ferocious reaction of the police to the letter from Deborah Glass in which there were then calls for the abolition of the IPCC? You must be aware that this had happened.
Dame Anne Owers: I am not aware of the police calling for us to be abolished.
Q165 Chair: Some members of the force had.
Dame Anne Owers: Have they? Well, I am afraid we have to do what we have to do. What we are doing is what is our statutory duty to do. The Committee has been clear there are questions about whether it would have been better had this been independent from the beginning, but I don’t think the police service can argue that they did not have the benefit of an extremely well-reasoned, independent view of what the IPCC considered the conclusions to be.
Q166 Chair: It has also been suggested that Deborah Glass is leaving on 31 October. This is her parting shot. Are you satisfied, having looked at the case, that this is the right thing that has happened?
Dame Anne Owers: I am satisfied that that is not the case. Just for the record, Deborah is not leaving on 31 October. She will not be taking on operational responsibility. She will still be with the IPCC until next March, but she will not have her current operational responsibilities. I think after 13 years she deserves to be able to do something else for us as well.
Q167 Chair: Let me just put one point to you. It has been suggested that police officers should themselves carry recording devices, which would enable people to be absolutely certain of events and what has occurred. This was put forward by one of our parliamentary colleagues, David Davis, MP. Do you think this is a good idea? Clearly none of this would have happened had we not had the recording that was done by Mr Mitchell’s assistant. We would not be in this room today. Do you think there is merit in this?
Dame Anne Owers: I would be nervous about extrapolating from a single, albeit very serious case to an entire way of policing. I would not really want to comment on that directly, save to say that I am old enough to have been around when the Police and Criminal Evidence Act was being debated and there was considerable resistance at that time from the police to tape-recording of interviews. In fact, that process has proved beneficial not just to suspects but also to the police themselves, because it is made clear on the record precisely what did and did not happen.
Mr Winnick: I think it should be said that in this whole sorry saga one thing is absolutely clear. The integrity of Deborah Glass is certainly not in any way questioned whatsoever. I think she has done an excellent job of work.
Chair: To have an endorsement from Mr Winnick is something that we all look forward to. It is more than I have ever achieved.
Q168 Chair: Could we return to the seriousness of the subject and call Inspector Ken Mackaill, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton and Sergeant Chris Jones.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Inspector Ken Mackaill, West Mercia Police Federation, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton, Warwickshire Police Federation, and Sergeant Chris Jones, West Midlands Police Federation, gave evidence.
Q169 Chair: Mr Mackaill, Mr Hinton and Mr Jones, thank you very much for coming at short notice to give evidence to the Committee today. We are most grateful. In your case, Mr Jones, you have flown in from abroad from your holiday and we are extremely grateful to you for coming here.
I am not going to go through the history of this, because I hope that you are aware of it, having obviously lived with this since 12 October last year. Mr Hinton, you and your colleagues issued an apology on Monday on a website. You said, "We acknowledge the investigation’s criticisms relating to our poor judgment in talking to the media following the meeting with Andrew Mitchell, for which we take this opportunity to apologise". To be very clear, what exactly are you apologising for?
DS Stuart Hinton: We are apologising for our poor judgment. It was mentioned in the report of the investigating officer that we showed poor judgment in speaking to the media immediately following the meeting with Mr Mitchell. I think we are all happy to take the criticism on the chin around that, in that what clearly we should have done is given ourselves an opportunity to debrief the meeting, decide in fact whether we wanted to make any statement at all or whether we should submit ourselves to interviews to the media. We did not do that.
Q170 Chair: So it is the choreography of what you did in giving the statements rather what you said either at the meeting or to the media. At the moment there is no apology for what you said at the meeting and the difference in what you said to the media. The apology on the website of the Police Federation is for the choreography, is it?
DS Stuart Hinton: That is part of it, if I might carry on. The apology is also to the public, our colleagues and anybody else involved, in the fact that by not allowing ourselves to have a considered response to the media we may have said things that could be interpreted as being misleading, but we certainly did not intend to do that and we certainly did not lie intentionally.
Q171 Chair: Mr Jones, it is very strange, because it seems to me the apology is a very half-hearted apology. It is an apology for the choreography of what you should have done before you got to see the nine television cameras outside. It does not appear to be an apology to Mr Mitchell. Is it an apology to Mr Mitchell? I know he is a member of the public as well, but is this a specific apology to Mr Mitchell for the way in which you conducted yourselves at the meeting or outside, or is that still not something you want to apologise for?
Sgt Chris Jones: At the moment I think the way in which this has been picked over, I am still firmly of the opinion that we did represent that meeting correctly when we emerged from the meeting, and those were planned words.
Q172 Chair: There is no apology to Mr Mitchell at the moment. I am just not clear, because this was put on the website and we want to be clear about the status of this apology. Is it an apology to Mr Mitchell or is it to everyone who is in the public?
Sgt Chris Jones: It is an apology to everybody in the public.
Q173 Chair: That you did not stop and pause and think before you went to the press.
Sgt Chris Jones: Yes.
Q174 Chair: It is an apology for the choreography not being properly dealt with?
Sgt Chris Jones: Yes.
Q175 Chair: Not an apology for anything that you have done? You don’t think you have done anything wrong?
Sgt Chris Jones: At the moment, no, I am not convinced that we have done anything wrong.
Q176 Chair: You would know now after a year, would you not?
Sgt Chris Jones: Yes, I am not convinced that we have done anything wrong.
Q177 Chair: You have done nothing wrong, you have done nothing to apologise for. That is your view?
Sgt Chris Jones: At the moment, yes.
Q178 Chair: Mr Mackaill, you did most of the talking, of course, to the media. You are an inspector in the force. The words "integrity, honesty and probity" were mentioned several times in the recorded conversation that you had with Mr Mitchell. Are you also of the view that nothing that has happened in the last year, nothing that happened at this meeting, merits an apology to Mr Mitchell?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: No, I gave what I believed was an accurate account of the meeting.
Q179 Chair: To the media?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: To the media, but I subscribe to the apology that I should not have done it in the way I did, that we perhaps should have considered a response, whether we were going to give interviews or produce a press statement. Mr Mitchell had indicated that there was a possibility of giving a joint press statement if we had agreed the position. That was before our meeting.
Q180 Chair: So it is all about the way in which you spoke to the media, nothing about the content, the fact that the investigating officer-have you now seen the report that the Committee has seen? Have you seen the report?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: The investigating officer’s report? Yes, I have, yes.
Q181 Chair: You have seen what he has said about the difference in the version of events and what you said to Mr Mitchell and what you said to the media. He has not concentrated necessarily on choreography; he has talked about content. You have seen the investigating officer’s report. Did you see the conclusions, Mr Jones, of the draft report?
Sgt Chris Jones: I have seen the reports. I am not sure which version of that report-
Q182 Chair: The first report. Shall I remind you what was said? Is that helpful to you? This is what it said: "By giving a misleading account of what took place at the meeting, I believe the officers have a case to answer for misconduct and bring discredit on the police service. Are you aware that that was said about by the Chief Inspector who heads the Professional Standards Department?
Sgt Chris Jones: I am now, sir, yes.
Q183 Chair: And you were not before?
Sgt Chris Jones: I contest that we gave a misleading account.
Q184 Chair: I understand that, but you were not aware of what an independent inspector had said?
Sgt Chris Jones: No.
Q185 Chair: Mr Mackaill, were you aware of the evidence that has just been given to us by the deputy chair of the IPCC and the chair of the IPCC?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes.
Q186 Chair: You have watching that evidence?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes, I have.
Q187 Chair: Did you hear her say that it is not a case for misconduct, it really is a case for gross misconduct?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: I did hear that, yes.
Q188 Chair: What did you feel about that?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: I do not accept that it is gross misconduct.
Q189 Chair: You do not?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: No.
Q190 Chair: Mr Hinton, in respect of the meeting that took place with Mr Mitchell, you do not dispute the recording that Mr Mitchell took. You have seen a transcript of that, have you?
DS Stuart Hinton: I have, and my colleagues have and, no, we do not dispute this recording. In fact, I do not have a problem that it was recorded. I am quite glad it was recorded now, to be perfectly honest, because everybody, members of the Committee and you, Chair, can see what was said, what we asked. I would ask that you come to a reasonable view around what we said afterwards.
Q191 Chair: We have all seen the transcripts afterwards. Don’t you think it is very odd? You are officers with some years’ standing. How many, Mr Jones?
Sgt Chris Jones: Twenty-eight years.
Q192 Chair: Mr Mackaill?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Twenty-two.
Q193 Chair: Mr Hinton?
DS Stuart Hinton: Twenty-one years.
Q194 Chair: Do you not have even the slightest doubt about this matter, given what has been said by Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams and Deborah Glass, not even the slightest doubt that there may be a difference between what you said at the meeting and what you said to the media and that that may have brought your police service into disrepute? I am looking at the apology that you gave. You seem to think that the public are upset about this and that is why you made the apology. Do you think that this furore is not something that one should be concerned about?
DS Stuart Hinton: I am extremely concerned, absolutely extremely concerned, and that is part of the very short statement we put forward.
Q195 Chair: How do you think it can be addressed? Clearly for the rest of your professional lives, all three of you will know that this report has been written about you. All three of you will know that in evidence to this Select Committee the deputy chair of the IPCC has said that you really ought to have had a case for gross misconduct. You had to have that hearing. She was not finding you guilty; she was saying there ought to be a hearing. For the rest of your professional lives this will follow you around. Do you not think, Mr Mackaill, it is in your interests to make sure that there ought to be a hearing and this matter ought to be cleared up once and for all? Wouldn’t you like that?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Until recently I had understood that it was cleared up once and for all, that the facts had been analysed by the Appropriate Authority and a conclusion reached.
Q196 Chair: We have just discovered, of course, that there are no minutes of the meeting that the Appropriate Authority has looked into it. We understand that you want to accept the verdict, but if you put out this statement, you must be concerned about your reputation and the reputation of your colleagues. Surely, Mr Jones, you did not issue this statement for fun?
Sgt Chris Jones: No, we did not issue this statement for fun.
Q197 Chair: You issued it for a reason.
Sgt Chris Jones: We are concerned about the reputation of the police service and the reputation of our colleagues, which comes back to something we spoke about in the meeting with Mr Mitchell.
Q198 Chair: Do you not think, therefore, it is in your interests that this matter ought to be redetermined and once and for all you need to be able to put your views forward with someone completely independent of the officers who you have day-to-day contact with in your forces? This is an inquiry that has been conducted by your local forces, has it not?
Sgt Chris Jones: It has, and the chief constables or the deputy chief constables, or the ACCs, have reviewed that and come to a conclusion.
Q199 Chair: We will be hearing from them next week. As far as you are concerned, everything is fine and you don’t think there is anything else that ought to be done?
Sgt Chris Jones: No, sir.
Q200 Chair: As far as you are concerned, there is no problem here now? You have apologised and that is it? Not to Mr Mitchell but to the public.
DS Stuart Hinton: We submitted ourselves to the correct process and the investigation that, as you are very well aware, was conducted under the supervision of the IPCC.
Q201 Chair: Mr Hinton, I don’t think you understand that we have received evidence from your chief constable, who will be giving evidence to us shortly, that he regards the process as being flawed.
DS Stuart Hinton: I am not aware of that, no.
Q202 Chair: That is what he said. What do you feel about that, the fact that the chief constable now wants this redetermined?
DS Stuart Hinton: That is a matter for the chief constable. If that is his decision, I accept that as his decision, if he is entitled to do that, as I, up until this moment, was happy to accept his decision previously.
Q203 Chair: Mr Mackaill, would you be happy to accept a redetermination?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: I would need to look at the reasons for the chief constable determining that was happened so far is unlawful. It does surprise me, after this length of time and the seniority of people involved in the inquiry, that it has not been lawful. But I do not know the reason for Mr Shaw’s view.
Q204 Chair: Mr Jones?
Sgt Chris Jones: Again we would have to follow due process and succumb to due process.
Q205 Chair: What exactly does that mean, Mr Jones?
Sgt Chris Jones: If it is found that it was lawful and the determination was-
Q206 Chair: You would be happy to accept a redetermination if you find that due process has not been followed?
Sgt Chris Jones: I am of the opinion and belief that due process has been followed so far.
Q207 Chair: But if the chief constable rules that it has not been and that there are irregularities, would you happy to have a redetermination.
Sgt Chris Jones: I would have to succumb to do that.
Q208 Chair: You would be happy to do that?
Sgt Chris Jones: I would have to succumb to it. Whether I would be happy or not, no.
Q209 Mr Clappison: Mr Mackaill, are you still maintaining to this Committee today that the account which you gave of the meeting with Mr Mitchell at his constituency surgery was an accurate account?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes.
Q210 Mr Clappison: You say it was. Mr Reakes-Williams is getting it completely wrong when he says that the account you gave to the media was inaccurate and misleading and any member of the public would come to that interpretation?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: I do not accept that at all.
Q211 Mr Clappison: Let’s look at what you said after that meeting. You came out and you spoke to the cameras. You said, and these are your words, "He will not tell us what he actually said". You repeated that in interviews and your colleagues said the same thing. Yet in the meeting, we know now with the benefit of the recording that was made of the meeting, which you have complained you were unaware of but it was in fact made, Mr Mitchell’s words to you, his explanation when you asked him about all of this, was, "I did not say, and I give you my word. I did not call the officer an effing pleb, but I did say, you know, under my breath but audibly, in frustration, ‘I thought you lot were supposed to effing help us’. I did say that and it is for that that I apologise". That was an account, was it not?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: It was a partial account. Can I just state I have never actually complained about the recording. Like my colleagues, I welcome the fact that the recording was made.
Q212 Mr Clappison: I am very pleased to hear that now, but can we just dwell on this? You said, "He will not tell us what actually said". That is what he said to you, wasn’t it?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes, that is right. Part of what I said has been taken out of context, and it may help if I were to read a fuller version of what I said. I think this bit was broadcast by Sky. I apologise for any language here, but it is a quote. "To use his words ‘a ‘profound apology with feeling’ for what he did say". That is a reference to where he said, "I thought you were supposed to fucking help us".
He has also repeated a denial of many of the words reported in the officer’s notes at the time, and that is the reference to plebs, morons, knowing your place and that sort of thing.
Q213 Mr Clappison: You accept now that he did give you account and you went on to say that he did not give an account?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: He gave an account but he did not tell us exactly what he said.
Q214 Mr Clappison: If that is the case, if that is right, why was it you did not ask him more questions? This is one of the points Mr Reakes-Williams raises in his investigation. You never asked him any further questions, you just left it at that.
Inspector Ken Mackaill: He was asked a question by my colleague Stuart Hinton.
Q215 Mr Clappison: Can I quote to you what Mr Reakes-Williams says? He said, "Why did three experienced police officers not press Mr Mitchell for the full explanation they wanted during the meeting? He gave an answer but they did not go on to indicate that they were not satisfied that he has given a full account".
DS Stuart Hinton: As I asked the question, can I come back on it? I asked the initial question around, "I think we would like you to tell us what you did say" during the meeting. He came back with that brief explanation as to what he said. That is quite correct.
Can I just say that, yes, I understand what Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams was saying, but what I must emphasise, as a detective of some experience, is I was not there to conduct a police interview with Mr Mitchell. We were having to try to clear the air and to try to sort out what had happened.
Q216 Mr Clappison: I think we know a bit better than that about this, don’t we?
DS Stuart Hinton: I refute that.
Q217 Mr Clappison: I just want to finish this. Mr Hinton, you said, "I understand what you are saying you said now and I appreciate your candour". I am quoting what Mr Reakes-Williams said, nobody else. This is your own chief investigating officer.
DS Stuart Hinton: That is in the transcript and again I can explain exactly what I meant by "his candour". My understanding was, until we had the meeting, that Mr Mitchell had only ever said publicly that he did not agree with the words that were attributed to him. He used that phrase. It was not very specific around what he had and had not said. When I asked him that question during the meeting, he then came out with-and it was the first time I was aware that he said, "I did not use the word ‘pleb’ and I did not use the word ‘moron’". I think he uses that in it. That was what I was thinking his candour for. Because rather than just saying, "I am not agreeing with the words that were attributed to me, I am actually saying to you I did not". After the meeting all three of us were very clear and implicit in repeating his denial of those specific words.
If you take the phrase that I think was used in an interview is he did not say exactly what he did say on its own, out of context, that would be wrong. If I said that alone, it would clearly be wrong and misleading.
Q218 Mr Clappison: Can I just put this to you? You also said to BBC Midlands, all three or certainly Mr Mackaill, "He, Mr Mitchell, has come out with what he has not said but is not saying what he said and that has caused an integrity issue". He did tell you what he said. He said he used the "effing" word but not the word "plebs".
DS Stuart Hinton: This is why I come back to what I said originally around not giving ourselves time to consider what had been said in the meeting. We came out and gave media interviews. I said it as I saw it as I came out of that meeting.
Q219 Mr Clappison: You are saying that your chief investigating officer, who says that you did not give an accurate and proper account of this, is getting it wrong and so is Deborah Glass?
DS Stuart Hinton: What I am saying is, yes, I think that those opinions are wrong, because when Ken and Chris and I came out of that meeting, what we said is what we understood had happened in the meeting, and gave a reasonable reflection of what we understood had been said in the meeting.
Q220 Mr Clappison: You have apologised for the choreography. You said that this was just a clear-the-air meeting. Were you surprised when you saw the media outside?
DS Stuart Hinton: No, because I knew they were there when we were travelling to the meeting.
Q221 Mr Clappison: You travelled to the meeting in the company of your PR adviser.
DS Stuart Hinton: That is correct.
Q222 Mr Clappison: Were you aware that your PR adviser had tweeted, two days before the meeting, "Breaking news. Andrew Mitchell’s fate will be decided when he meets the PC Plebs of West Midlands, Mercia and Warwickshire on Friday"?
DS Stuart Hinton: I personally was not aware of that tweet, which is what I said during my misconduct interview.
Q223 Chair: But of course you are now.
DS Stuart Hinton: I am now, yes.
Q224 Chair: the meeting, as you have told this Committee, was not just about Mr Mitchell, it was about the cuts that were going on. Is that right?
DS Stuart Hinton: Yes. If I may, part of-
Q225 Chair: Could I ask Mr Jones? Because I would like to give you all a fair hearing. Mr Jones, this was about the cuts, wasn’t it? You were going as Federation representatives about the cuts?
Sgt Chris Jones: The whole campaign at the time was about the cuts, yes.
Q226 Chair: It was about the cuts, indeed. The reference in the transcript to, "That woman in the Conservative Party" was whom? Who was that woman?
Sgt Chris Jones: I don’t think it was me that said that.
Q227 Chair: I think it was in the transcript. You will find it.
Sgt Chris Jones: Can you direct it to me?
Q228 Chair: We can find who said, "That woman".
Is it right, Mr Mackaill, that you received a letter from the chairman of the National Police Federation asking you to stop this campaign because it was getting extremely personal? He says in his letter to you of 26 September, "While we understand the sentiment and anger, such wording, the personalised nature of your campaign, we urge you to withdraw this particular campaign as a matter of urgency and in the best interests of our members". Did you receive a letter from Paul McKeever telling you not to carry on with this campaign?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: We received a letter. It was not within the national chair’s power to tell us to stop doing it. We are an autonomous body.
Q229 Chair: But it is clear that the reason why you went there was to also be part of a political campaign to do with the cuts.
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes, that is correct.
Q230 Chair: You replied to Mr McKeever on 27 September. Do you remember what you said?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: I do not, no.
Q231 Chair: Here is a copy of the letter for you to see, and a copy of Mr McKeever’s letter. It is right, is it not, that the Police Federation, of which you are all members, and that was the locus for you being there, was very concerned about the personalised nature of this visit and the personalised nature of the campaign. Is that right, Mr Mackaill?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: I am sorry, I was reading the letter. Could you just ask the question again, please?
Q232 Chair: The National Police Federation was very concerned about this.
Inspector Ken Mackaill: That is correct, yes.
Q233 Chair: You felt you had the backing of your local members and the public?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes, I think so, yes.
Q234 Chair: This was a campaign meeting more than anything else?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: No. That was certainly part of the issue, but not in its entirety, no.
Q235 Chair: Why was it drawn to a close at 5.45pm? You did not really get on to the cuts issue. Although one of you had talked about the cuts, at exactly 5.45pm the meeting came to a close. It has been suggested that that is because you were there to deal with the 6.00pm news. Is that right?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: That is not correct. I was not instrumental in bringing the meeting to a close.
Q236 Chair: Who was, of the three of you?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: If I can say my own part, I did feel the meeting had come to a natural conclusion, that we were beginning to-
Q237 Chair: Even though you had not discussed the main purpose of your visit?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: That was a secondary part. We felt unable to move on to the second part because the first part had been unresolved.
Q238 Steve McCabe: Gentlemen, as we have heard, prior to this incident the Police Federation were running a high-profile campaign against cuts to police funding and changes to officers’ terms and conditions. Do you think that your behaviour has undermined that campaign and damaged the reputation of the Police Federation and undermined public confidence in the police?
DS Stuart Hinton: Our campaign was designed to highlight the public concerns around the cuts, and nothing more. I think we need to emphasise this to you all today.
Q239 Steve McCabe: I understand what the campaign was about. I am asking if your behaviour effectively undermined it, because nowadays I am not getting too many people contacting me about police cuts, but I am getting an awful lot of people contacting me about what happened at this meeting and subsequently.
Sgt Chris Jones: I think our poor judgment showed in using the incident in Downing Street as a hook to gain media attention to our cuts campaign. That is regrettable, in hindsight and, yes, I do think that has had an effect on the Police Federation.
Mr Winnick: Can I just interrupt and ask if we have seen the letter?
Chair: I am getting it copied, Mr Winnick.
Q240 Mark Reckless: Sergeant Hinton, you referred to the investigating officer only concluding that there was an issue of judgment. Who do you understand that investigating officer to be?
DS Stuart Hinton: Mr Reakes-Williams.
Q241 Mark Reckless: Was it his conclusion that, "By giving a misleading account of what took place at the meeting, I believe the officers have a case to answer for misconduct and bringing discredit on the police service"?
DS Stuart Hinton: I do not accept that we intentionally gave a misleading account of the meeting.
Q242 Mark Reckless: Was that not the account of the investigating officer, as properly appointed?
DS Stuart Hinton: I would disagree with that.
Q243 Mark Reckless: That is what it says here in black and white.
DS Stuart Hinton: I do not disagree that he said it; I just disagree with the conclusion.
Q244 Mark Reckless: You refer to the investigating officer’s judgment, but is it not the case that the investigating officer we are referring to there is merely an Inspector Smith who was not appointed for that role in any formal sense at all?
DS Stuart Hinton: My understanding was-I am assuming, I have to say, because I was subject to the investigation but not involved in it, if I can put it that way-that Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams was the senior investigating officer and Detective Inspector Smith was the deputy SIO, which is the way a lot of police investigations are managed.
Q245 Mark Reckless: Bu the issue is as far as the IPCC or the legislation concerned, it is Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams who has that role and it is him who said there was a case to answer for misconduct, and only Mr Smith, who does not have any formal role in this, who said it is merely a question of judgment. I just wondered if you were aware of that.
DS Stuart Hinton: No, I was not.
Q246 Mark Reckless: Can ask all three of you, when you were having this interview with Andrew Mitchell at his constituency offices, was that on Police Federation time?
DS Stuart Hinton: Yes.
Q247 Mark Reckless: Who was paying you in respect of that time?
DS Stuart Hinton: All full-time Federation officials are obviously employed by their respective forces and are given that facility time to perform their roles as Federation officials.
Q248 Mark Reckless: So your activities at Andrew Mitchell’s office and with the media afterwards were funded by the taxpayer. Do you consider that to be appropriate?
DS Stuart Hinton: It is appropriate in the context that that is not all that we do as Federation officials. We are there to represent the interests of our members, represent them when there are allegations of misconduct and that sort of thing, represent them when they are-there are quality issues and all sorts of things like that we do. We were not doing that on that particular occasion, but that is why there is facility time given generally.
Q249 Mark Reckless: I understand the circumstances, and you refer to the facilities agreement, but I understand that Chief Constable Sims has said that this facilities agreement is being changed to prevent this sort of activity every happening again.
DS Stuart Hinton: That is Mr Sims’ prerogative.
Q250 Mark Reckless: You do not support that change? You would like to have the Federation continue being able to do this sort of thing with taxpayers’ money?
DS Stuart Hinton: We should be able to represent our members, as police officers do not have the normal industrial rights, if you want to put it that way.
Q251 Mark Reckless: This sort of behaviour is okay, paid for by the taxpayer?
DS Stuart Hinton: The behaviour of all of us in representing our members and their concerns is okay, yes.
Q252 Mr Winnick: I am correct, am I not-and I speak as a West Midlands MP, moreover one very much opposed to the Government’s policies regarding the police cuts-there is and continues to be a campaign by the Police Federation in the West Midlands against the cuts?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Not one that I am involved in. My colleague from the West Midlands may be. The campaign came to an end at the conclusion of that meeting with Mr Mitchell, and I think you will find we have not done much-
Q253 Mr Winnick: But there was a high-profile campaign, perfectly legitimate, which the Police Federation, representing their members, felt was necessary in view of the cuts that were due to take place. Am I right?
Sgt Chris Jones: Our view was that it was a legitimate campaign, yes. There had been other previous campaigns before that. You may remember the postcard campaign. You probably received postcards from our members.
Q254 Mr Winnick: No. The rest of us, apart from the Chair, are somewhat at a disadvantage, because we have not seen the letter from the National Police Federation to you. That letter apparently suggested a different approach in the campaign against the cuts. Am I correct?
Sgt Chris Jones: My understanding of the letter from Paul McKeever is that it was not about what was happening with Mr Mitchell at the time.
Q255 Chair: Mr Jones, it predates the meeting with Mr Mitchell, so it could not be about him.
Sgt Chris Jones: At the time of the Troy Party conference that year, we brought some billboards around the conference arena, and it was about the fact that one of the posters that we put up contained a picture of Mr Cameron. If I remember right, it said something along the lines of, "Say hello to David, wave goodbye to your police force" or words to that effect. Paul McKeever felt that using Mr Cameron’s first name was inappropriate and it was a personal attack on Mr Cameron, and we had a disagreement around that.
Q256 Mr Winnick: On reflection, do you think it was a mistake to confuse or link the two, namely what was alleged against Mr Mitchell-of course a West Midlands Member of Parliament-and the campaign against the cuts?
Sgt Chris Jones: On reflection I think perhaps we would do things fairly differently, yes.
Q257 Mr Winnick: Would it not be right to say that as a result of the two being linked, this has been very useful ammunition for those who believe that the campaign against the cuts was wrong from the beginning and therefore, to put it bluntly, you have done a disservice to your members who continue to feel that the cuts is a policy that is wrong?
Sgt Chris Jones: I think a number of things have been taken out of context around all this.
Q258 Mr Winnick: Taken out of context or otherwise, you do agree that it was wrong to link the questioning of Mr Mitchell, as a West Midlands Member of Parliament, over what he did or did not say at Downing Street over being refused permission to take his bicycle, and the general policy of the cuts being imposed by the Government?
Sgt Chris Jones: If we were to do it again, I think we would probably do it a different way.
Q259 Mr Winnick: A different way. To that extent it could be argued that a disservice has been done to your members who feel, as I have said, that the cuts are wrong?
Sgt Chris Jones: Our members at the time were very supportive of what we were doing. We were representing them; that is what they wanted us to do.
Q260 Mr Winnick: Presumably it is your wish to serve your members as best you can.
Sgt Chris Jones: As you do, sir.
Q261 Mr Winnick: You recognise a mistake, perhaps a major mistake, was made?
Sgt Chris Jones: Yes.
Q262 Chair: Mr Hinton, it was you who said at the meeting, "We have said today that it is time to move on. We, as you know, as a Federation, have issues with the reform of this woman that the Conservative Party have". Who were you referring to?
DS Stuart Hinton: I think that is a typo, to be perfectly honest.
Q263 Chair: It is a typing error?
DS Stuart Hinton: I do not know why I would say "this woman" in the middle of a sentence like that.
Q264 Chair: No, because I stopped. "We, as you know, as a Federation, have issues with the reform of this woman that the Conservative Party have. I am sorry, we are just moving on here and I do not know if Ken or Chris have anything to ask around the issue of Downing Street. Chris, have you got anything?" Do you remember who "that woman" was?
DS Stuart Hinton: I do not remember saying "that woman".
Q265 Chair: So the transcript is wrong?
DS Stuart Hinton: In that particular I would suggest it is, yes.
Q266 Chair: The transcript is wrong?
DS Stuart Hinton: I do not recall using the words "this woman".
Chair: Let’s see if we can find it and send it to you. Michael Ellis.
Q267 Michael Ellis: Is that not a classic example of the disrespect and your disgraceful conduct on that day? You are clearly referring to the Home Secretary in that conversation, are you not?
DS Stuart Hinton: No.
Q268 Michael Ellis: The Home Secretary, the Deputy Prime Minster, the Prime Minster have all said there should be an apology for this. You have repeatedly been asked whether you ought to give an apology. You are saying you ought not give an apology to Andrew Mitchell for the way you conducted yourselves on that day. Mr Jones, is that right?
Sgt Chris Jones: I don’t think we can give an apology at the moment.
Q269 Michael Ellis: I suggest you can give an apology for spinning a yarn to the press that afternoon to get someone out of high public office, because that is clearly why you were motivated to do, is it not?
Sgt Chris Jones: I would disagree with that. That is not what we were motivated to do and that is not what we were trying to do.
Q270 Michael Ellis: You disagree with a 13-year veteran of the IPCC when she said, "The police officers had a responsibility to present a clear and accurate picture. Their motive seems plain. They were running a successful, high-profile, anti-cuts campaign and the account that Mitchell provided to them did not fit in with their agenda". You disagree with the IPCC and you disagree with the Chief Inspector of Police who said that you had misconducted yourselves. You are saying that you were completely innocent of this matter.
Sgt Chris Jones: What was my state of mind at the time when this happened? My state of mind at the time was that there was no intention to mislead. I do not feel that I lied about what went on in the meeting. There was no conspiracy to unseat Mr Mitchell. I believed at the time that the officer on the gate that had the interaction with Mr Mitchell had provided a truthful account. I can give you my reasons if you want to hear those why I feel that.
Q271 Michael Ellis: Mr Jones, can I just stop you there? I suggest to you that that is not the case. We have already heard that a media relations company was advising you about an anti-cuts campaign that was in progress at the time. That is correct, is it not?
Sgt Chris Jones: That is correct.
Q272 Michael Ellis: You are all three members of the Police Federation, so you can confirm that is correct.
Sgt Chris Jones: Yes.
Q273 Michael Ellis: A representative of that media relations company drove with you in the car to that meeting. Is that correct?
Sgt Chris Jones: Yes.
Q274 Michael Ellis: Is it also not correct that during the course of that journey he was receiving telephone calls from the media about your forthcoming meeting?
DS Stuart Hinton: He was receiving telephone calls from the media, yes.
Q275 Michael Ellis: He was receiving telephone calls from the media. Is it also not correct that you were advised by that media relations company, "Make sure you finish the meeting in time for the 6.00pm news bulletins"? The meeting finished at 5.45pm
DS Stuart Hinton: yes.
Q276 Michael Ellis: You acted in concert with a view to discrediting a senior Cabinet Minister. Is that not right, Mr Jones?
Sgt Chris Jones: No, that is not correct. We did not do that.
Q277 Michael Ellis: The media company had sent a tweet prior to the meeting that indicated that Mr Mitchell’s fate would be decided at the meeting. I suggest to you again that you acted with a view to establishing his future. You thought that collectively you could bring down a Member of the Government in penalty for what you thought was a bad policy. Mr Mackaill?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: I absolutely refute that suggestion.
Q278 Michael Ellis: When you, Detective Sergeant Hinton, said at the end of the meeting to Mr Mitchell, "I appreciate your candour and we appreciate you have gone beyond you said in the media", then in interview with BBC Midlands afterwards you said, "He has come out with what he has not said but he is not saying what he did say and that has caused an integrity issue". I suggest to you, therefore, that when you spoke to BBC Midlands afterward you were not telling the truth.
DS Stuart Hinton: No, I was telling the truth. I was telling it as I saw it happen. I had come out of the meeting. There had been a fair deal said during the meeting. Mr Mitchell’s account with regard to saying things under his breath and so on was said at the beginning of the meeting. Later on the meeting he was reiterating that he had not gone beyond anything he had said previously and-
Q279 Michael Ellis: You had said that he spoke with candour in the meeting. How can you go from saying he was candid in the meeting, to what you said to the BBC outside?
DS Stuart Hinton: I explained that earlier. Prior to the meeting, my understanding was that Mr Mitchell had only ever said, "I do not agree with the words attributed to me". The candour I was referring to was the fact that during the meeting he came out and said, "I did not use the specific words ‘pleb’ and ‘moron’" and suchlike. After the meeting, when I did give some media interviews, I was at pains to point out that he had apologised, and not using those words, those specific words. That is the context in which my other comments should be viewed.
Q280 Michael Ellis: How did the press find out about this meeting? It was supposed to be a private meeting, was it not?
DS Stuart Hinton: It was.
Q281 Michael Ellis: It was supposed to be a private meeting, so how did they find out? I presume you are not going to suggest that Mr Mitchell would encourage a media circus around himself at this time, so how did the press come to find out? Was it from the media relations company that was acting for the Police Federation, was it from you?
DS Stuart Hinton: The Gaunt Brothers were under instructions not to release the meeting. I have a letter here, an email, from Mr Mitchell where he agrees to the meeting and says that he does not want the location disclosed. We agreed we were not going to disclose the location. This was all done-
Q282 Michael Ellis: Yet there was a media circus outside.
DS Stuart Hinton: There was, and can I-
Q283 Michael Ellis: I have nothing further.
DS Stuart Hinton: There is something really important to say. In the investigating officer’s report, the investigators asked certain quarters of the media how they knew about where the meeting was going to take place, Channel 4 in particular, I think, and they refused to tell the investigators how they knew where the meeting was happening, on journalistic grounds.
Q284 Mr Clappison: I think, Mr Hinton, you were a little bit more helpful when you were talking to the investigating officer about this, because you told the investigating officer, and I will read it to you exactly, "DS Hinton confirmed that he understood that the meeting with Mr Mitchell would be private. He stated however that the three Federation representatives travelled to the meeting with John Gaunt and that during the journey Gaunt had been receiving calls from the media asking him when they were going to arrive". So you must have expected the media to be there.
DS Stuart Hinton: During the journey to the meeting we clearly were expecting the media to be there, because John Gaunt was getting the calls from them asking where we are.
Q285 Mr Clappison: We know Mr Gaunt is not exactly a shrinking violet, but were you not a bit cross that he told the press that you were going to be there.
DS Stuart Hinton: If indeed he has told the press, and he was under instructions and I don’t think he has.
Q286 Chair: We will be asking him to give evidence.
DS Stuart Hinton: I would be cross, yes.
Q287 Mr Clappison: As far as the choreography of this was concerned, your request for a meeting, that fact that you were travelling with your media adviser, that there were tweets going in advance, that the press were there and you went straight out to see them in time for the 6.00pm news, the choreography, you have to accept, was that of you and your Federation and your adviser, was it not?
DS Stuart Hinton: To a degree. I have to accept that as Federation representatives we were engaging in a campaign against the cuts and that we had no experience around really engaging with the media, which is why we employed a PR agent, and it was John Gaunt, who we were introduced to by the National Federation, who had used him in the past. So it was not like we just plucked him out of the air.
Can I just finish, because it is important?
Q288 Chair: Just on John Gaunt, were you aware that the National Federation had terminated their contract with him in July?
DS Stuart Hinton: Yes.
Q289 Chair: When you have just said to this Committee now you used him because the National Federation have used him the past, they had terminated the contract with this company.
DS Stuart Hinton: That is why I said in the past, yes.
Q290 Chair: Because they had not been following the instructions of the client, yet you continued to employ them.
DS Stuart Hinton: I did not know the reasons why they had terminated his contract.
Chair: We need to move on, if we may.
Q291 Chris Ruane: A question for Mr Mackaill. When you were asked last year by Channel 4, "What do you think should happen next to Mr Mitchell", you said, "I think Mr Mitchell’s position is untenable. I think he has to resign, and if he doesn’t resign then I think the Prime Minister has no option but to sack him". Mr Mitchell succumbed to this pressure, your pressure, and he resigned. Was Mr Mitchell right to resign?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Let me state first of all it was not just my pressure. There were calls from all sorts of quarters for Mr Mitchell’s resignation.
Q292 Chris Ruane: It was you who was quoted on Channel 4.
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes, but you said succumbed to my pressure, just to clarify that point.
Q293 Chris Ruane: It was you who was asking for him to resign. Was he right to resign?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: What I saw was a very casual dismissal, a very public dismissal, of police officer integrity.
Q294 Chris Ruane: But was he right to resign?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: I think so, yes.
Q295 Chris Ruane: He was. Do you not feel any sympathy, pity or compassion for the man? I think he lost about two stone in weight in about two or three weeks. Do you not feel any pity, sympathy or compassion for what he has gone through over the past year, and do you not think that you owe him a personal apology for what has gone one?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Since them, of course, we have seen all sorts of developments at Downing Street, or the Downing Street incident, which I had no way of knowing would happen. But my mind at the time was, as I have said, a very casual dismissal of police integrity.
Q296 Chris Ruane: And he was right to resign?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: I think so, yes.
Q297 Chair: Doctor, before we come to you, on that issue all three of you-I think you in particular, Mr Jones-in answer to Mr Mitchell said, "We have got bad apples but we have got bad apples in our barrel", referring to the Metropolitan Police. It is in the transcript and we will send you it if you do not have it. Mr Mitchell replies, "I am not comfortable to comment on that. I wouldn’t". You replied, Mr Jones, "It does not feel right that the officers have attributed those words to you if that’s not true". West Midlands, which was also you, "They don’t wish to have a misconduct hearing in the Met". You were going to report those officers, were you not, after the meeting, for what they had done to Mr Mitchell? Did you end up reporting them?
Sgt Chris Jones: In the meeting it felt right to do that at the time. When the meeting was over and we considered it-
Q298 Chair: This is after the press briefing?
Sgt Chris Jones: Yes, this is probably during the course of the following week. The times are a little bit hazy.
Q299 Chair: You decided not to report them?
Sgt Chris Jones: When we reflected on it, there was actually nothing new that had come out of that meeting that was not already in the public domain, and the decision had already been made, as we understood it, by the Metropolitan Police not to conduct an investigation at that stage. So there was a general feeling that this had come to an end. That meeting, as far as we were concerned, was the end of the campaign.
Q300 Chair: It would have been pretty explosive if you, having had a meeting with Mr Mitchell, would then go off and report your own colleagues in the Met, would it not, bearing in mind what you have said to the media?
Sgt Chris Jones: There was nothing new that we had discovered from that meeting that was not already known, so the view was would we be taken seriously if we tried to complain. Basically we were saying that Mr Mitchell was saying-
Q301 Chair: But you told him that you thought there should be a complaint.
Sgt Chris Jones: We told him that, yes.
Q302 Chair: At the meeting?
Sgt Chris Jones: yes.
Q303 Chair: Giving him the impression that you were going to do something about it.
Sgt Chris Jones: Did he disagree with that?
Q304 Chair: No, he said he could not comment on it because he did not want to fire fight other and it was a decision for you.
Sgt Chris Jones: He did not wish to impugn the officer’s integrity.
Q305 Mr Clappison: Just on what Mr Mackaill said a few moments ago about Andrew Mitchell’s attitude to a police officer at Downing Street, it would be right and fair to say that in the meeting with you he was absolutely contrite about what he had said. He said, "I should never have said it and I will never do it again. I think we all of us in our lives occasionally let go". His attitude was contrite, was it not, and it was trusting towards you, as representatives of the police who had worked within his constituency over many years?
Sgt Chris Jones: Yes.
Q306 Dr Huppert: Sergeant Jones, would it be fair to say you were expecting the media when you arrived at this meeting?
Sgt Chris Jones: By virtue of the fact that we were receiving phone calls on the way to the meeting, yes.
Q307 Dr Huppert: Have any of the three of you had media training in the police service or the Federation? Did you do any preparation about how you would deal with the media when you came out?
DS Stuart Hinton: This is one of the times where clearly we have demonstrated poor judgment.
Q308 Dr Huppert: You have each had over 20 years’ service, you have dealt with the media on a number of occasions, you have had training, you knew there were going to be lots of media on an issue of national interest and you decided not to discuss it. Is that what you are saying?
DS Stuart Hinton: No, what I am saying is first of all your first question was had I ever received media training. No, I have not.
Q309 Dr Huppert: But your two colleagues have. Yes.
DS Stuart Hinton: John Gaunt gave us some media training on how to deal with questions generically, but not formal media training, as I believe you are suggesting.
Q310 Dr Huppert: You had not had any training but the rest of you had. Inspector Mackaill, having looked at the transcript, one of the fascinating things that comes out is that you do not say a word in it. Is that right?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: That is right, yes.
Q311 Dr Huppert: You sat there listening the entire time. You have the highest rank of the three officers here?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes.
Q312 Dr Huppert: You were completely silent and then when people came out you were the person who spoke to the media initially. Was that planned in any way?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes. As we became aware that there were media there, we thought someone would need to be a spokesman, and that was me. Because of that, I thought that I needed to concentrate on what was going on in the meeting.
Q313 Dr Huppert: So you did have a discussion about how to deal with the media before you started the meeting?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: On route there, once we knew there were media.
Q314 Dr Huppert: That is not quite what Sergeant Hinton was saying. You did set up a media plan before you started the meeting. You discussed who was going to talk to the media, but that is all you did.
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes.
Q315 Dr Huppert: I find that somewhat surprising. On a more general issue, there are many, many excellent police officers that serve all of us, that do a fantastic job, work very hard. Their honesty is, of course, very important. Many of them will have to testify in court, people have to be able to trust what police officers say. We do not want complaints that police officers mis-describe what has happened. But all these fantastic police officers around the country, if any of them have the chance to watch this, how do you think they will be reacting to your evidence today. Sergeant Jones?
Sgt Chris Jones: I have no idea.
Q316 Dr Huppert: You would not like to hazard a guess?
Sgt Chris Jones: No.
Q317 Dr Huppert: Any of you like to hazard a guess?
DS Stuart Hinton: I would not like to say. What I would like to say around the issue of honesty and integrity, which I think was implicit in our brief statement that we put out, is honesty and integrity is central to the values of the police service and it is central to my values and I know it is central to Ken and Chris’ values as well. I personally have over 21 years’; service, unblemished service. I would not engage in the sort of behaviour that is being suggested that I engaged in.
As I came out of the meeting, I recognised, and my colleagues recognised, that there was a potential honesty and integrity issue here that had been identified as a result of the meeting, and that was the thing I was at pains to emphasise. During the media briefing I was saying honesty and integrity is core to the police service. What we have now that the full story has come out is two such disparate versions of the events that one cannot be mistaken for the other.
Q318 Dr Huppert: That is why it is very helpful that we have a transcript. You refer to unblemished conduct. Can I take it as read that none of the three of you have had any complaints about anything to do with this? Is that correct? It would be good if you could all say yes or no.
DS Stuart Hinton: Yes.
Inspector Ken Mackaill: I have had one complaint for a member of the public that was not upheld.
Q319 Dr Huppert: About what sort of thing? Was it related to this?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Yes.
Q320 Dr Huppert: Thank you. But none from the other two of you? Thank you.
Q321 Nicola Blackwood: Following on from Dr Huppert’s comments about the impact that this is having on local officers who see questioning of police integrity in newspapers on a daily basis, it is having a dramatic effect. I think the nature of your apology at the beginning of this session will be confusion to them.
Reading this transcript, the last 15 minutes are devoted to your concern about the potential of bad apples within the police force and the difficult position that this now puts you in, because you, in order to meet professional standards and your codes of conduct, will need to report this to the Met. I think Andrew Mitchell can be forgiven for believing that you, Sergeant Hinton, said you had appreciated the meeting, appreciated his apology, accepted that he had apologised absolutely but what you still needed to get past, unfortunately-to use the political expression-was that you may still have bad apples that need to be addressed. That, as a summary of the meeting, does not imply that you still had unanswered questions about his conduct.
If I had had a meeting with any official in my constituency or with any other body in which that was the conclusion of my meeting, and then they went out and made a public statement calling for my resignation, I would be completely confused, because this is just not the nature of what was said. I do not understand why, even if you did not mean it, you would not apologise to Mr Mitchell.
Sgt Chris Jones: Sorry, can you say that again? I am not sure we fully understand.
Chair: I am afraid we cannot play it back.
Q322 Nicola Blackwood: During the last quarter of your meeting, you implied that your only remaining concern with Mr Mitchell was the fact that you had bad apples in the police force, that perhaps you had an integrity issue with an officer at Downing Street. This is what the last quarter of the meeting was about. For 15 minutes that is what you discussed, the fact that you were now going to have to report this to the Met and it put you all in a difficult position.
At that point Sergeant Hinton commented that you appreciated the meeting, you appreciated his apology, you accepted the apology absolutely, but now you needed to deal with the fact that perhaps you had bad apples. You did not say, "We are not satisfied with your account", with Mr Mitchell’s account. You said you needed to deal with the fact that perhaps there was a problem with the officer’s account. You then went outside and said, "We are not satisfied with Mr Mitchell’s account and he needs to resign". I do not understand how that is not very confusing for Mr Mitchell, and it obviously has had a very detrimental impact on his career. There may be all sorts of reasons why you might have unintentionally done that, but why would you not apologise to him?
Sgt Chris Jones: If I refer to something that appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 24 September, there is an account that is apparently given by the officer on the gates.
Q323 Dr Huppert: Yes, but that is not what I am asking you. I am asking you why, having had a meeting with Mr Mitchell where you gave him the impression that your only remaining concern was about the officer’s integrity and then you went straight out of that meeting and gave a completely different account, you would not apologise for having misled him in that way. That is the conclusion of the IPCC; it is the conclusion of the first draft report of the investigating officer. Why would you not apologise? What we have at stake here is the integrity of police officers and their word, and you accept the fact that when you look back at the transcript and what you then went out and said to the media are two very different things. I just do not understand why you would not.
DS Stuart Hinton: This is the point that we were making to the media-
Q324 Chair: Forget about the media. If you just answer Nicola Blackwood’s question. She had put it three times. Can somebody give an answer to Nicola Blackwood as to whether or not it was right to have said to Mr Mitchell, "There is only one issue outstanding" and then going off to the media? We understand that you should have had a pit stop and you should have taken advice and then spoken to the media. But on the substance of what Nicola Blackwood has put to you three times, can someone just give her answer so we can move on? Mr Jones.
Sgt Chris Jones: In my state of mind at the time we came out, I am not too sure that I felt that was the position.
Q325 Nicola Blackwood: Not at the time but now, having reflected, understanding all the circumstances and understanding the massive impact it has had on Mr Mitchell, and also understanding the impact that this ongoing investigation and the media uproar is having on other police officers, like those working hard in my constituency, why would you not do what Mr Mitchell did when he apologised, and apologise for your part?
Q326 Chair: Mr Mackaill, perhaps we can start with you, because Ms Blackwood has asked this now four times. What is the answer?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: We have often been asked to apologise for misleading, and I absolutely do not accept that we did anything deliberately to mislead. The apology we have made is for the way we handled the media, which I think is what it really comes down to. We have given that apology.
Q327 Chair: We have that point. That was the first answer you gave. Mr Hinton, do you have anything to add? A yes or no will be fine.
DS Stuart Hinton: Yes. In hindsight and in view of the fact of what we know now, not what we did then, then as part of the apology that we have already given, Mr Mitchell should have been included in that apology. But that is an apology that, if we are going to give, we should give to Mr Mitchell personally and not in this forum.
Q328 Chair: You are planning to see Mr Mitchell to give him an apology?
DS Stuart Hinton: If there is one due with regard to-
Q329 Chair: Mr Hinton, this is not a television game show, this is a serious question about serious issues that have detained three chief constables, three assistant chief constables, a chief inspector, two inspectors, two sergeants and a lot of other people and a great deal of money. Is that an apology, Mr Hinton? Have we moved from whenever you came in at 4.30pm?
DS Stuart Hinton: Mr Mitchell should be included in the apology that we have already given, yes.
Q330 Chair: Because he is a member of the general public and is walking around and therefore the apology should fall on his head?
DS Stuart Hinton: Because it should be anybody who was involved in what had gone on.
Q331 Chair: Are you apologising to Mr Mitchell or do you think he should just accept this as an apology because he is a member of the human race?
DS Stuart Hinton: No. What I mean is I cannot apologise for something I have not done. I understand that what Mr Mitchell-
Q332 Chair: That is fine. You do not have to say Mr Mitchell should be included because he happens to be a member of the public; that does not make sense. Mr Mackaill, have you changed your position at all in 45 minutes?
Inspector Ken Mackaill: No, I have not.
Q333 Chair: Mr Jones, you do not want to apologise for anything, apart from not having a chat before you saw the media, correct?
Can I remind you, as I have reminded all witnesses, that giving false evidence to a select committee is a prima facie contempt of the House. Can I say on behalf of this Committee that we have found your evidence most unsatisfactory? You are welcome to stay and listen to what the chief constables of your three authorities say. Thank you very much. We are very grateful.
Inspector Ken Mackaill: Can I just clarify one question that Dr Huppert asked, and it was on the conduct matters? I thought his question was relating to this incident. I think it was, on reflection, probably in general, is that right? Yes, I have a written warning from eight years ago. I was answering out of context.
Q334 Dr Huppert: Just in case there was a lack of clarity, do any of the others have anything? No, just one from eight years ago.
Chair: Before you go, Ms Fullbrook is bursting to ask a question, so we must let her do so.
Q335 Lorraine Fullbrook: I would just like to clarify from each of you. You accept that you gave misleading statements but you did not do it deliberately, is that correct?
Sgt Chris Jones: I still do not feel that we gave misleading statements, no.
Q336 Lorraine Fullbrook: Did you give a misleading statement to the press, following the meeting with Mr Mitchell? You did not?
Sgt Chris Jones: No.
Q337 Lorraine Fullbrook: And you do not agree with the findings of the investigating officer?
Sgt Chris Jones: That is correct, yes.
Q338 Chair: Is that right that you do not agree with the findings?
Sgt Chris Jones: We do not agree with the findings, or I do not.
Q339 Lorraine Fullbrook: None of you agree, is that correct?
DS Stuart Hinton: That is correct.
Sgt Chris Jones: I do not agree with it, yes.
Q340 Chair: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
Could we have the chief constable so West Mercia first, please?
Examination of Witness
Witnesses: Chief Constable David Shaw, Chief Constable, West Mercia Police, gave evidence.
Q341 Chair: Mr Shaw, I apologise for keeping you waiting so long. Mr Shaw, I have to tell you this Committee has been sitting since 2.45pm considering what has been happening in your police force and that of the chief constable of Warwickshire and West Midlands, and it seems to be very much of a car crash that has happened. We have evidence from the IPCC about the way in which your authority had conducted this investigation, the process that was used. We have had evidence from one of your officers. We have had evidence also from the investigating officer. Is there something you would like to say at the start concerning this matter? I understand in the written evidence that you wish to make an apology to Mr Mitchell for what has happened. Is that the case?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Sir, there are a number of things I would like to say. I have already written to Mr Mitchell. I wrote to him on Monday. That has not been in the public domain before now because I thought it was important that it was a personal apology from me and that he should receive it personally.
In the normal course of events, that apology will have come at the end of the process, but I am acutely aware that the timing is just as important as what is said. It is a profound, unreserved apology for the impact what has happened has had upon him.
Q342 Chair: You sent that to Mr Mitchell earlier this week?
Chief Constable David Shaw: On Monday, yes.
Q343 Chair: On Monday. I have now received a copy of your letter. We will be publishing all the letters at 5.30pm.
As far as you are concerned, you have had 693 complaints in 2011, 2012 against police officers in West Mercia. This looks to me like a complete lack of leadership of this particular police area. How does it get to a stage that so many people are involved in this issue and a chief constable has to come here and explain and apologise for what has happened? How did it get to this point?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I think that is probably a point that many people who have already given evidence are probably wondering at this point. Obviously the main thrust of your question is about leadership. As chief constable I have an enormously privileged job and one I love doing, but clearly the buck stops with me and I have to be accountable for a huge range of things that go on. This narrative I am about to give you is not going to distance myself from anything that has taken place. I have to be accountable for everything that happens. It is unedifying and it hurts the force, it hurts me personally because it goes against everything I have stood for for 34 years. Most critically, it affects the public’s confidence in us. I think that from what we have heard already there are lot of people going away from today to reflect on what needs to be done.
Q344 Chair: We will come on to the next steps in a moment, but in terms of integrity and in terms of honesty in your police force, this must be having a very damaging effect, not just on morale but also on the way in which people view your force and-we will hear a little later from other chief constables-the other forces, over the way in which it has been handled and the things that have been said.
Chief Constable David Shaw: I am not going to for a minute minimise the impact this has had and is having, not in any sense, but I personally believe that the men and women I have the privilege of leading, and there are fantastic men and women out there, do a brilliant job in nearly incident that they deal with. I think the public that come into contact with them, when they are out there protecting them every day, turning up to scenes of crimes, finding lost children, tend to judge the police not just on things like this. I accept fully it has an impact but I think they tend to judge them on how the individual around the corner looks after them or how the individual officer responds when they turn up.
I would not want to separate them and I realise the crossover between the two, but I don’t think-I accept completely there is a dent in confidence and there will be for some time, but I can absolutely reassure you that both myself and all the leadership in this force and across the country will be doing everything they can, from chief constable downwards, to rebuild it.
Q345 Chair: Can I say on behalf of the Committee I welcome what you have just said in terms of your unreserved apology to Andrew Mitchell? I hope that you will have an opportunity to give that apology to him in person, but I am glad that you are able to say that to the Committee today. I think that is the right approach.
Just on the issue of public trust in your own force, one of you local Members of Parliament, Mark Pritchard, had a debate in Westminster Hall about public trust exactly two years ago, almost to the date-it is very odd-before the meeting between Mr Mitchell and the three representatives of the Federation. Did that not ring alarm bells in your head about the need to handle this highly sensitive issue very carefully?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I would maintain that I did show grit right from the beginning. I do not intend to overplay the point about me seeking it to be referred independently, because I think that has played out for a long time in front of Anne Owers and Deborah Glass, but I have to reinforce that point. In the letter that was sent to the IPCC I expressly made the point about public interest and concern and the need to bring transparency into it, because I knew how this might play out.
Q346 Chair: Yes, but was there a fault on your part?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I need to finish this, if I could. The issue about resources is not necessarily true either, because there are other tiers of investigation which would have required no different levels in resourcing, but I will leave that point for where it is.
Thereafter, my involvement was pretty regular and pretty routine with my deputy. I am not for a minute suggesting I fired this letter off to the IPCC and then forgot about it until September. Of course you may judge at the end of this that I have not showed enough grit, and I have to reflect on that. But I picked up right from the first incident that this needed me to be on top of it. Although it does not feature in the papers greatly, I did discuss this case with DCC Chesterman at several points. I am not in any sense trying to distance myself from his decision-making.
So I have that conundrum. On one side I believe I have showed grit, but of course you are then going to say, "During that grit, did it not cause you concerns?"
Q347 Chair: The grit was not as firm as one would have liked, because this is the situation we have. We have a draft report. Thank you for sending us those draft reports, even though you were advised by the head of legal services not to send them to us. We will be writing to her to ask her where she gets this interpretation.
Chief Constable David Shaw: I would like to clarify that point, if I could, at the end of this question.
Q348 Chair: You certainly can. A draft report was sent with very clear conclusions; that is that there was a case for misconduct. We have heard from Deborah Glass-you have seen the evidence, you have been in the room and you have watched the evidence and we will not repeat it for you-that in her view she found the decision amazing when she got the final report, which had no conclusions that there should be a case for misconduct. In fact, Deborah Glass, with her 13 years of experience, to whom you wanted to send the case in the first place-and you regret the fact that she did not take on the case and this Committee probably regrets the fact that she did not take on this case-thinks there is a case for gross misconduct. What are you proposing to do to get out of this very difficult situation? In written evidence to us you have suggested that there were procedural irregularities, which allows you to refer this to another Chief Constable.
Chief Constable David Shaw: That is correct.
Q349 Chair: Can you just explain to us what those irregularities are and what is your thinking about trying to find a solution to this problem?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, certainly. This gets complicated but I think it is worth exploring this point just briefly. The Committee may be aware that, following your invitation for me to attend here, Deborah Glass wrote a letter, which I fully understand why she wrote it, where she alluded to two versions of a report. That triggered investigation by me as to what that meant because there was a huge furore about that and although Deborah Glass I don’t think ever meant to impugn anybody by it, it was certainly interpreted that way. I was massively aware of how that would play out here and also in the public arena so I did a forensic review of the process that led to that decision and I believe I have identified a flaw, which means that decision should be reviewed.
Q350 Chair: Tell us the flaw?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, basically the flaw, and you have sort of touched upon it today, albeit you may not have realised this was the flaw that triggered my seeking -
Q351 Chair: We are keen to know about flaws.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, the flaw is that when, let us call it the original report, was presented to -
Q352 Chair: The draft with the conclusions?
Chief Constable David Shaw: The report that was presented to Simon Chesterman, Neil Brunton and the Chief Inspector.
Q353 Chair: The second report?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes. That report did not have any recommendations on it at all and it should have done. My judgment then was, do I believe that materially changes that decision or does it so suggest that the process could be flawed that it should be reviewed, and I took the decision that it caused me enough concern that it should be sent for a redetermination.
Q354 Chair: A redetermination of what, the conclusions or the evidence?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, sir, what I am saying is that the complete report with all the evidence and recommendations needs to go before someone else.
Q355 Chair: So version A?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, sir, version A is incorrect because it includes no recommendations.
Q356 Chair: Version A is the draft report, which we have as version A.
Chief Constable David Shaw: That is right, yes, which is flawed because it has no recommendations.
Q357 Chair: No, that has recommendations. Maybe you marked it incorrectly or we have. We have three reports, version A is the draft report, let us call it the draft report, because obviously there have been procedural problems in the past and we do not want them to be continued. So the draft report is what we call version A; that has Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams’ recommendations that there should be a misconduct hearing. Version B and C have no such recommendations.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Apologies if I have confused. The critical element here is, if I get my versions wrong I will -
Q358 Chair: It is the draft report, let us call it the draft report, we do not want to confuse you, Chief Constable.
Chief Constable David Shaw: It is the report that went before Mr Chesterman.
Q359 Chair: That is B, without recommendations.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, I am not surprised the public are confused if -
Q360 Chair: No, we are not confused; you just appear to be. The draft report is A and I would not want you to refer to the last one, the wrong one, because otherwise we will all be back here next week, and I am sure you have better things to do. The draft report is A; let us call it A.
Chief Constable David Shaw: I have nothing more important than clarifying this point.
Q361 Chair: Yes, the draft report is A. What is going to the new Chief Constable?
Chief Constable David Shaw: The report that went in front of Mr Chesterman and the other Deputy was a report with no recommendations.
Q362 Chair: That is B.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Because I feel that it is required in law, as I think Mr Reckless has touched upon, because it is required in law that must form part of the decision-making process, I have taken the decision that the decision-making process should be revisited and I have sought that to be done independently.
Q363 Chair: So you are taking A, the draft report, with Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams’ conclusions, and you are doing what with it, who are you going to?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I have spoken to the HMIC because I think it would be wrong for me to approach a particular Chief Constable and I think it is part of their role and a useful part of their role to be overtly transparent and open about this, and they are in the process of trying to identify a suitable Chief Constable. In law arguably it is possible for me to revisit that.
Q364 Chair: Why can you not, because if you accept that here is a report that everyone thinks is properly investigated but the conclusions were missing, if you accept that, why are you not making this decision, why are you prolonging the agony of Mr Mitchell who you so eloquently apologised to a few moments ago?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I wished it was not prolonging the agony of Mr Mitchell, let me say that.
Q365 Chair: This might go on for another six months.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Pardon?
Chair: This might go on for another six months.
Chief Constable David Shaw: I can assure you everybody will do everything they can to make this happen as quickly as they can within the regulations.
Q366 Chair: You have gone to HMIC, you have taken the draft report, you have said, "Look at this again", to reopen the issue of misconduct, or are you ordering a misconduct hearing?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, sir, I cannot order that, because it is about the decision.
Q367 Chair: You can make the decision, but you choose not to?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I could, but I choose not to. I also brought -
Q368 Chair: Could you also, instead of going to a Chief Constable, could you send that to the IPCC?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I have explored that.
Q369 Chair: And?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I am told that they cannot.
Q370 Chair: Is that because of the advice of Penny Fishwick?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, sir.
Q371 Chair: Whose advice did you seek?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I have had discussions with different parties about whether or not another route is possible.
Q372 Chair: Thank you. So let me just conclude, you are now sending draft A, the first version, you have rung up HMIC, you have said, "Find me a Chief Constable; I want new conclusions or determinations on this", is that right?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, sir.
Q373 Chair: Does that open you up to the possibility of a judicial review?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I really do not know, it is a risk of course, I have been told that it is a risk. What I would stress though, and I appreciate why neither yourself or the public necessarily want to get into the law, the regulations are quite clear that I am allowed to delegate this to a member of a police force and as long as they are of appropriate rank.
Chair: We know.
Q374 Mark Reckless: Chief Constable, I think one of the issues perhaps IPCC see is the report they were given was version C and the legal advice they have had appears to have been on the understanding that when that report refers to the IO, the investigating officer, that is the investigating officer they appointed. But is it not the case that IO referred to is not Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams because he said that at no point was he pressurised or made to change his report and what happened between the draft and the final report was, instead of it being Reakes-Williams’ conclusions that were put forward, the IO referred to was just Inspector Smith?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I cannot really comment on the process in terms of what was in those officers’ minds. I obviously have the facility to hear what was said -
Q375 Mark Reckless: Let us look at C here and the final page of the conclusion, it refers to, "For these reasons, on the balance of probabilities, the IO does not consider that the officers have a case to answer of misconduct". Is that IO not Inspector Smith, because in the previous report Reakes-Williams was referred to as the SIO?
Chief Constable David Shaw: The nomenclature is important here. In legal terms Jerry Reakes-Williams, the Chief Inspector who appeared before you today, was always the investigating officer.
Q376 Mark Reckless: But this is not his report, final C, the IO referred to is Inspector Smith.
Chief Constable David Shaw: I believe it is done by both of them and he cannot cease to be the investigating officer because there is an "S" or an "I" in front of their name.
Q377 Mark Reckless: It is signed by both of them but the IO referred to is Inspector Smith because Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams was SIO.
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, Jerry Reakes-Williams was the investigating officer throughout. I think I heard him say that sometimes the term "S" in terms of Senior Investigating Officer sometimes slips in because it has a particular resonance in terms of the investigation, but he was always the investigating officer in terms of this as an IPCC supervised complaint.
Q378 Mark Reckless: But the final report does not reflect his views, the conclusions are not his. The final report needs to reflect the view of the Appropriate Authority and it appears that of the IO, Inspector Smith, who disagreed with it.
Chief Constable David Shaw: I think this is where the timeline becomes very important and it again comes back to my decision to seek a redetermination. When Mr Chesterman made his decision, it was premature, because it was not a complete report, it had no recommendations. You have heard Deborah Glass say very clearly she has never heard of a report without recommendations appearing in front of an Appropriate Authority. So Mr Chesterman has made a decision based on an incomplete report, which is why I am seeking a redetermination, and at the end of that I think what has happened, and I stress "I think" because I have not had time to look at every detail of this, is Mr Reakes-Williams’ report, because he can never cease to be the IO in respect of this investigation, has reflected what he believes is now the decision of his DCC because he has been told he can only put in one set of recommendations. I am not saying that is easily explainable but there is I think a rational narrative that can explain that.
Q379 Mark Reckless: But it does not reflect his view as the officer appointed to investigate.
Chief Constable David Shaw: I agree completely, there is tension between a report at the start that says he believes there is a case to answer for misconduct and something that turns out at the other end that says not. But, Chair, could I just say something?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I think this is very important. Two things, I have spent pretty well every hour since this issue became live trying to first of all understand what has happened and trying to ascertain if there is anything improper. I think it is also important to stress that I believe that I have not found anything at all, and I think it is also important to point out that neither has the IPCC. Of course, had they done so, they would be completely within their powers to initiate an investigation into that. However, this is important, having found nothing improper or anything that caused me concern about integrity here, it is clearly clumsy and it is clearly unfortunate about the way it has played out, which is why I have chosen to have the decision reviewed.
Chair: Which we welcome. We think that this is the right approach, whether or not it should be done by another Chief Constable or by the IPCC, given what has happened, we do not know, and I think advice needs to be taken. But the Committee welcomes the fact that you have moved forward on this rather than the position that you had, and the other two Chief Constables, after Deborah Glass’ report, which we felt was quite negative. Given that the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary and the public are concerned, this is the right way forward, whether it is absolutely the right direction we do not know yet. Mr Reckless wants to just conclude.
Q380 Mark Reckless: For clarity, can I just confirm that the reconsideration by another Chief Constable will be on the basis of version A that includes Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams’ conclusion that there was a case at least for misconduct to answer and not either B with no conclusion or C with which Mr Reakes-Williams says he does not agree?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Whichever version it is, it is absolutely critical that the contrary views are included in that report.
Q381 Mark Reckless: It is Mr Reakes-Williams’ report, as required by law.
Chief Constable David Shaw: As the investigating officer, yes.
Q382 Mark Reckless: Indeed, and just one final question, can you confirm that this review that you have undertaken, which this Committee welcomes, was the review that Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball for Warwickshire requested you undertake?
Chief Constable David Shaw: That is what triggered it at that particular point, yes.
Q383 Lorraine Fullbrook: I would just like to clarify for the record, for version C to have been produced with a different conclusion, what evidence did you have available to you that was not available to the investigating officer to produce the draft report?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I do not believe there was any new evidence. All the evidence had been gathered at that point and, as we have already heard, the IPCC had full faith in that investigation, so I cannot envisage a situation whereby new evidence had been -
Q384 Lorraine Fullbrook: So there was no new evidence; you just had a difference of opinion as to the conclusion of the evidence?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I am not distancing myself from any of this, but it was not my judgment at that point, no. I think you -
Q385 Chair: It was Mr Chesterman’s?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Mr Chesterman’s decision, yes.
Q386 Lorraine Fullbrook: Who does Mr Chesterman report to?
Chief Constable David Shaw: He reports to me; he is the Deputy Chief Constable.
Q387 Lorraine Fullbrook: So who is the fall guy?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I don’t think there is a fall guy here; I think there is a job to be done to find out what has gone on. I think this Committee is doing part of that. My review has certainly kick-started that and I have commissioned and have written to IPCC, commissioning a full review of how we have got to where we are.
Q388 Lorraine Fullbrook: If you were a member of the public today in West Mercia, watching this Committee and the evidence we have received today from the three officers who have been under investigation for misconduct or gross misconduct, would you be, if you were a member of the public under investigation by the West Mercia Police, would you be a happy man today?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I think as I have sort of said before, and I am not trying to dodge your question at all, I think this works at two levels. I think the public will sit and watch this play out and be frustrated and exasperated and feel a little bit let down, if I am honest. But I think that, if I look at where I police and where I live in West Mercia, people judge the police service on their local cop and what happens when they call for help, and I believe that is what the men and women out there doing that job now will focus on and will continue to do a brilliant job doing it.
Q389 Mr Clappison: I think we are all very well aware of that, if I may say, Chief Constable, both in West Mercia Police and Hertfordshire where I am, and generally, we appreciate the great job the police do. But something needs to be looked at here, does it not, with what has happened, because it is worth bearing in mind we are talking here, not about a final determination of whether there was misconduct or gross misconduct or what the penalty should be for that, but whether or not there is a case to answer. What is concerning me is that we have heard evidence from Mr Reakes-Williams, who is the head of Standards and he was the Chief Investigating Officer in this case, he is an officer of high rank, a Chief Inspector, who he had a meeting on 1 August where he made plain his view that there was a case to answer for gross misconduct, probably on a favourable set of assumptions to the officers, rather than gross misconduct, but misconduct, and that the decision was taken not to refer this at all. Was that meeting held before the decision was taken?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, it was. Just to clarify, speaking about my Deputy, that meeting definitely preceded the decision. Of course that decision has turned out to be premature because it was based upon our report -
Q390 Mr Clappison: I would like to come back to that. The point I want to know is, if the decision was taken after that meeting with Inspector Reakes-Williams, which I believe it was?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes.
Q391 Mr Clappison: So his view was on the record?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, it was.
Q392 Mr Clappison: Then we have the view of Deborah Glass as well of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, who has told us that she thought it should have been a case to answer of gross misconduct. Was that known to the police before the decision was taken?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, to my understanding, and this is critical, her views were made after the decision had already been made.
Q393 Mr Clappison: Did you consider that the decision should be reconsidered?
Chief Constable David Shaw: At which point, sir?
Mr Clappison: After her views had been made known.
Chief Constable David Shaw: I certainly believe, as far as I am aware, that at that point, because I had no reason to believe the process had not been followed properly, I concur with Anne Owers, I think at that point effectively it was closed.
Q394 Mr Clappison: I am concerned about whether it was done properly or not, but there is a question of judgment. What worries me in listening to this is that you have the views clearly expressed of the Chief Investigating Officer that there was a case to answer and yet the judgment is reached that there is not a case to answer. Do you not think that the member of the public who heard that would be concerned about the judgment, not just the procedure, the judgment of the person who took that decision that there was not even a case to answer?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Just for a second, take it outside this specific case, I know there may be views that the police are some sort of monolithic structure where everybody agrees with everybody, depending on how much gold braid they have on. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact one of the things I think should be admired about the police, it is disciplined, but you do have more junior officers standing up to more senior officers and sometimes making the better decision as a result of it. It is not a democracy and that is right and proper. We live in a culture, without putting too fine a point, sometimes if you end up with a debate people get killed. I will just come back to this point if I could, so any sense that people were slavishly following senior officers because they had an inkling that it was going to go the wrong way, I could not disagree with more, and every day decisions are challenged and sometimes decisions are changed as a result of it.
Q395 Mr Clappison: This is the man who is the head of Standards for the police force.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, but also my Deputy has been head of Professional Standards in his own force, Thames Valley, for a considerable period. He is an incredibly experienced detective. Also, I would point out that three very senior police officers in three separate police forces independently reviewing this, all came to the same conclusion, and disagreed --
Mr Clappison: These were -
Chief Constable David Shaw: Sir, excuse me, if I could just - and they disagreed with Reakes-Williams, so there is, I appreciate, a tension, there is not a consistency of flow, but I know how this is playing out, but I would rather we see an organisation where people can challenge and give contrary views than simply always all agree. Chair, I would also suggest as well, this is important, Jerry Reakes-Williams’ report went to the IPCC, the contrary view, there was no attempt to somehow submerge that -
Q396 Chair: You keep raising that, Mr Shaw, I can assure you that nobody on this Committee has suggested that there was bad faith, you use the word "conspiracy", nobody has suggested there is.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Maybe I am over-egging that, but when you see yourself accused in the Sunday papers of covering up a cover-up, believe me you would not miss opportunities such as this to try and clear your own name.
Q397 Mr Clappison: I completely understand you have acted in good faith, but I am asking about the judgment on this, because it was not the final determination, as I said, it was whether there was a case to answer or not. The decision that was being taken was whether there was a case to answer, not whether they were guilty of misconduct or not, just whether there was a case to answer, and the Chief Investigating Officer clearly through there was. Who took the decision not to?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Three very senior officers took the decision not to.
Q398 Mr Clappison: They were the forces concerned representing the three officers involved?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, sir, that would be West Mercia, West Midlands and Warwickshire.
Q399 Chair: Mr Shaw, in an unminuted meeting, a meeting of that importance where you said you had a grip on what was going on that was in the public domain, these three officers, two plus one, because they did not all meet together, had a meeting that was unminuted. This is extraordinary.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Two things on that, sir. When you say it was unminuted, people have kept notes, and I know that you have asked for those, and also, sir, this is critical, that meeting, that was a briefing session, it was not a decision-making forum, it was an opportunity for the investigating officer -
Q400 Chair: With respect, Mr Shaw, we have been told that the Appropriate Authority were those three Assistant and Deputy Chief Constables. Mr Reakes-Williams could not then walk off and write his own conclusions. As he has told us in evidence today, at the end of the day the decision was for the three ACCs and the DCCs, is that not right?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Absolutely.
Q401 Chair: So it is not a briefing meeting, it sounds as if they were given advice, at the end of the day it was not his decision, was it?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, but the issue about whether there should be minutes of this meeting, I just want to just explain what I understood about what was taking place there.
Q402 Chair: But it was unminuted; we do not need to go into why, it was an unminuted meeting. But there are notes?
Chief Constable David Shaw: As far as I know, yes.
Chair: All right, we will get the notes.
Q403 Mr Clappison: You are telling us that at that stage you were not aware of the view of Deborah Glass that there was a case to answer?
Chief Constable David Shaw: As far -
Q404 Mr Clappison: When that meeting was held and the decision was taken, were you aware that Deborah Glass thought there was a case to answer, the IPCC?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I genuinely do not know. I believe not but I cannot state categorically, but of course that can be clarified. I do know in fairness that the meeting did know about Jerry Reakes-Williams’ view.
Q405 Mr Clappison: We do know that after that Deborah Glass was so concerned about it she came out in public with her statement of 15 October.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, she came out with that, she came out with her concerns in writing sometime after the decision had been made by the DCCs, two of the DCCs.
Q406 Mr Clappison: Am I right in thinking that we would not have found out, I mean correct me if I am wrong about this, but on the papers we have been given, would we have found out about the original decision of Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams if she had not come out in that way?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I have to be careful here because the Chair has warned me not to over-egg the point around whether things were suppressed. The IPCC knew about Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams’ contrary report and the senior colleagues in that room knew about the contrary review.
Q407 Mr Clappison: Would this Committee have known, would the public have known, would anybody had known, if Deborah Glass had not taken the decision to come out and speak publicly because she was so concerned?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I genuinely do not know.
Q408 Dr Huppert: There are a huge number of issues mixed up here: that it has so far taken over a year to even work out if there is a case to answer, which strikes me as slow; the competence with which the investigation appears to have been run; the very questionable evidence we have heard in the previous session. It seems to me that the one underpinning one, which is a broader issue than just the details, is about the role of police officers. Police officers often have to give evidence in court where their honesty, their correct description of what has happened, are absolutely essential, juries have to be able to rely on this. It seems to me that one of the big problems with this is that it strikes at that very issue right to the heart. I would be concerned that as a result of some of the things we have heard people could be asking for convictions to be looked at again. It will certainly make it much easier for people to question police officers. The vast majority of police officers of course are absolutely honest. What will you do to try to restore the reputation for the police force at least in West Mercia?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Firstly, I want to distance myself greatly from what took place around this whole campaign. I think that it was highly inappropriate. In fact I would say it stronger, it was wrong. I think the Federation, and I will come to the crux of your point in your question in a moment, sir.
Q409 Chair: Could you speak up? We got to "distance yourself from the campaign".
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, I do. I understand, and it is quite right and proper that there is a Federation to look after members’ views and have campaigns; they have no right to strike and they do need a voice. But I think you have to watch your boundaries of what you say and how you act and how you conduct yourself while doing that business, and I believe they breached those boundaries. Had I known one of my colleagues, Inspector Mackaill, was going to get involved in that, I would have sought to prevent him from doing so. I now come right back to the crux of your question, which is what do I do to help build and restore faith? First thing is get to the bottom of this, because I accept that if we do not bottom this out it will be there and getting in the way of things. Secondly, people that know me, and I would like to think that most people in West Mercia that I look after and serve have a sense of what I stand for, I think they would expect me and hope that I could go back and rebuild the confidence, or the knock this confidence has taken, and provide the leadership that my men and women will be looking for. Part of that is about putting right what has gone wrong and making sure that they are sent out with the right sort of leadership, sense of purpose, values, equipment, training, and so on, to do the job properly. So, what do I do? I do my job the best I can.
Q410 Dr Huppert: I think it was interesting to hear about Inspector Mackaill’s written warning, we will hear more about that, but there are many, many police officers who will need to know that when they go and deal with a case they will not just have anybody questioning everything they say; that there will be some respect for their honesty. I think it is a big job for the police force now.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, sir, if I could just comment on that.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Not a speech I promise. Many organisations, particularly public sector organisations, that go through a difficult phase like this, they do take a knock, but fundamentally I think though that the men and women out there are doing a good job and we will recover from this one definitely.
Q411 Michael Ellis: Chief Constable, you just said in answer to an earlier question that, if you had known about one of your colleagues you would have sought to dissuade him?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes.
Q412 Michael Ellis: But it was not one of your colleagues, it was one of your subordinates, it was someone for whom you are responsible as Chief Constable and you could have directed that and you are responsible for knowing what your officers are doing.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Could have directed what, sir?
Michael Ellis: Well you say that one of your colleagues you would not have wanted to engage in this exercise, this publicity exercise, with Andrew Mitchell in the Sutton Coldfield office, if you know what I mean, so why do you think you ought not to be criticised for not knowing what your officers were doing? They are engaged in a super high publicity exercise with media gurus and nine camera crews outside, do you not think that you ought to have known about this?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, I do not. I am prepared to take responsibility -
Q413 Michael Ellis: All right -
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, if I could just - I am prepared to accept ultimate responsibility for most things that have taken place here, but the Federation, they have to tread a difficult line because they are police officers first but they are acting for the members second, and I would not expect them to account for every single minute and every single action that they undertake, I think that is -
Q414 Michael Ellis: They are warranted serving police officers acting-
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes, but there is a fundamental difference between a warranted serving officer out there protecting the public, doing things very much on behalf of the public, and a Federation Officer conducting themselves entirely properly on Federation business. I would not expect to know every single movement or everything that they are doing.
Q415 Michael Ellis: A Federation Officer is still subject to the disciplinary procedures, therefore the point that you make is irrelevant, is it not?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No.
Q416 Michael Ellis: They are one and the same.
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, not in terms of what I should know in advance. I think there is a profound difference between whether I should know every single movement and every single utterance that they are going to make--
Q417 Michael Ellis: This is not every single movement. This is a major event. This was on the news, it was top story on the news, it was all over the press.
Chief Constable David Shaw: It was retrospectively.
Q418 Michael Ellis: No, on the day, before the meeting took place, there was no media period of purdah on this, this was highly broadcast.
Chief Constable David Shaw: I have to take issue with your fundamentally that I should have known about what those officers-
Michael Ellis: Can I move on?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, sir, if you want-
Michael Ellis: You have made your point, Chief Constable, you have made your point, you take issue with the point that I have made.
Q419 Chair: Could the Chief Constable just finish, if you want to finish?
Chief Constable David Shaw: You are trying to land a point that I should have known what they were doing beforehand. I think you are completely wrong in that assertion.
Q420 Michael Ellis: You have referred to an officer as one of your colleagues. I am suggesting that he was one of your colleagues but he was also a subordinate to you.
Chief Constable David Shaw: I recognise he was a subordinate.
Q421 Michael Ellis: All right, so as far as the crux of this matter is concerned, as it relates to yourself, that is these changed reports, this report, and the circumstances around that. First of all, can I ask you why it is that this 150-page briefing document that Members of this Committee received, we received only about 5.00pm last night or after 4.00pm last night when the Committee asked for these documents to be presented by noon on Monday? Do you know why there was a delay for that reason?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Actually you are incorrect when you said that you asked for the documents to be presented by noon on Monday. The Chair’s request was for the two versions that stemmed directly from Deborah Glass.
Michael Ellis: Why were they not provided by noon on Monday?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, can I please explain? I cannot answer your questions if they are interrupted. Chair, you will be aware I informed you literally just about 11.45am to say there was a slight delay. On the Monday afternoon I wrote a letter explaining why there was going to be a delay in returning these documents to you. The reason for that was the two versions of the report in themselves with no context around them you would have been completely baffled about what had taken place. I had by then commissioned a supplemental review to try and understand how the versions had been introduced. I fully understand why it meant that the time constraint had been very tough.
Chair: I think we have them now.
Michael Ellis: No, I want to pursue this point because as far as you are concerned you are providing an explanation for why you did not provide these two versions by noon on Monday. They were provided late yesterday, a substantial set of documents. Did you seek legal advice which told you that you ought not to provide the two different versions of that document to this Committee? Did you seek that advice and did you receive such advice?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, sir, I received legal advice about the risk, and I will explain why, of putting those documents out into the public arena when potentially doing so could prejudice the further decisions that now need to be made following my decision around predetermination. Not to put a finer point on it, Chair, and this is important the wrong documents at the wrong time in the public arena could prejudice an outcome that I was trying to put right.
Michael Ellis: You did seek legal advice. You were not trying to obstruct this Committee?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, absolutely not, and in fact I think it is important to put on record I accept fully the delay in two reports arriving in your office. I have tried to explain why that is. All the other documents were not as a direct request from your Committee. They were documents that I had commissioned because I thought they might bring light to this matter.
Q422 Michael Ellis: Moving on, do you accept that it was not lawful under the Police Reform Act to send the investigator’s report to what are known as the Appropriate Authorities, the Chief Officers for want of a better phrase, without a conclusion? Do you accept that that was not in accordance with proper practice or for that matter statute?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I think it is a matter of record that I accept it is a breach in procedure which was why I have sought a new determination.
Q423 Michael Ellis: In your statement to us you say it was wrong as a matter of law, do you still say that?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Clearly I do. That is in my letter.
Q424 Michael Ellis: It is also right to say that there is no framework for Chief Officers such as yourselves to settle differences in an investigator’s report. That is right, is it not? If there is a difference between the Chief Inspector that we have heard from and his Inspector about what this report should say you do not have any standing in law to settle the difference between those two, do you?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, I do not.
Q425 Michael Ellis: No, so why did you and other Chief Officers have a meeting to discuss this report and its various versions if you had no standing to do anything about it anyway?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Which meeting are you referring to?
Chair: The briefing meeting.
Michael Ellis: You had a briefing meeting. Why did you have such a meeting if there was no purpose to it, if there was nothing you could have done anyway?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I think I am a little confused with your question. I may have missed your point, I do apologise, but the investigating officer is expected to submit their report and their recommendations. The Deputy Chief Constable at my force here is entirely within his powers to accept or not accept those recommendations and that is entirely permissible. So I do not know if I have answered your question.
Chair: Thank you. On that point what I am going to do now, Mr Ellis, is to invite the two other Chief Constables since you have raised the issue of this to the dais if I may call them forward.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Chief Constable Andy Parker, Warwickshire Police, and Chief Constable Chris Sims QPM, West Midlands Police, gave evidence.
Q426 Chair: When we initially invited you, Mr Shaw, to give evidence Mr Sims and Mr Parker both said that they wished to also give evidence to the Committee and they are here now. I am going to call Mr McCabe next but could I begin? Obviously we do not want to go through the whole evidence again so we are going to confine our questions to new issues concerning your two authorities. Can I say first of all to you, Mr Sims, to congratulate the local West Midland’s force on the excellent work they did in the Pavlo Lapshyn case. The way in which you went out and caught this man so quickly, those responsible for what would have been a disastrous attack on a number of mosques and individuals. They deserve our thanks for what they did in such a very quick way.
Mr Winnick: Can I join in the congratulations?
Chair: Of course.
Mr Winnick: The police are certainly to be warmly congratulated in respect of what they have done and it is certainly appreciated by the public of all kinds, whatever our political differences or politics. It does not alter the fact there is a general recognition that the police have done an excellent job of work.
Chair: That may be the nicest thing we say today. Please pass on our thanks.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Thank you.
Q427 Chair: I am going to try and concentrate and then switch onto Mr McCabe. First of all, Mr Sims, are you going to do what Mr Shaw did? Is there going to be an apology from you to Mr Mitchell and would you like to tell us about that?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: First of all, good evening. I don’t think this is the right medium to make a proper apology so I have written to Mr Mitchell today. If Mr Mitchell is gracious enough to see me because I appreciate what he has been through then I would look to say that I am sorry and hopefully also to try to clear up some of the issues raised here before.
Q428 Chair: Do you wish you had done this slightly earlier?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I think we get trapped in these processes and I cannot remember which Member made the point that this has gone on so, so long and once it is in motion it is really difficult to break out and probably say the sort of common sense things that we would want to.
Q429 Chair: I welcome what you have said. The Committee welcomes what you have said. I hope that you will get the opportunity of apologising to Mr Mitchell. Mr Parker, are you in the same boat or are you rowing in another direction?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: No, quite clearly the Federation should not have got involved in this overtly political campaign.
Q430 Chair: We will leave the Federation for a second. As far as Warwickshire is concerned would you like to join your colleagues at the dais in apologising to Mr Mitchell?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Yes, I would. My office has got involved in a political campaign which was ill thought through and has led to a lot of public confidence issues for us and yes, I would certainly like to apologise to Mr Mitchell because obviously this added to the already big impact that this plebgate campaign was having on him. It is embarrassing that my force was involved in the way it was.
Q431 Chair: Will you be doing the same thing that Mr Shaw has just said which the Committee welcomes, referring this for another determination in respect of the officer who is in Warwickshire, Mr Hinton? Will you be doing that as well?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: No, that is not my position. Clearly there was a procedural error but my Deputy Chief Constable who in this case took the decision that there was no action he had all the evidence available to him when he made that decision. While there has been a procedural error in that he did not have the conclusions of the investigating officer, he was aware of what those conclusions were and he had all the material evidence in making his decision. There is actually no new evidence that another determination would have before them.
Q432 Chair: You disagree with what Mr Shaw is doing?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Yes.
Q433 Chair: Do you not accept having listened in another room to the evidence that has been given by Mr Reakes-Williams, the questioning of this Committee as well as what Deborah Glass has said, and it may well be that the IPCC should have handled this matter at the start but the best way to get closure is to put this as Mr Shaw has, in our view, correctly done to another Chief Constable to get the matter resolved?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: I think it is really important that we follow a proper process and you have talked about the meeting, I think, on 1 August. Bearing in mind this was investigated by West Mercia and supervised by the IPCC the first time my Appropriate Authority Neil Brunton got any detail was on that meeting on 31 July. At that meeting he was told that there were two separate opinions, one from the Inspector who thought there was no action and one from the Chief Inspector who thought there should be some action. He felt it best that he took away all the evidence rather than have a conclusion guide him in any direction and look at all the primary evidence and come to his own conclusion.
Q434 Chair: We really ought to hear from him in evidence. Mr Sims, are you going to get a redetermination?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I think I am in a rather simpler position than my colleagues.
Q435 Chair: Is that why you have moved away from them?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: We are just not good friends. I think I am in a simpler position because my-
Chair: Mr Jones.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: No, leave Mr Jones for a bit.
Q436 Chair: Is Mr Jones your man?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Yes, he is. In process terms, my officer who is making the decision, ACC Gary Cann, received the final report that had gone to the IPCC, a report interestingly signed by both the Inspector and the Chief Inspector and with a conclusion. Mr Cann has, I believe, made a proper decision and at the end of this meeting I shall release into the public domain the 25 page decision note that Mr Cann made.
Q437 Chair: Is this what you have sent us?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Yes.
Q438 Chair: We will be releasing it into the public domain.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Thank you very much. I believe that that decision has been properly made, objectively made and I see no reason to move from that decision.
Q439 Chair: Mr Sims and Mr Parker, this leaves me totally confused. I mentioned a car crash before you gave evidence, Mr Shaw, but I am confused because why are you apologising. If you don’t think this should be looked at again and you think you had a grip on all this and you think your ACCs and DCCs have acted properly, what on earth are you apologising for?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I am very clear why I am apologising. I am apologising for the campaign that you heard about, the hurt that it gave to Mr Mitchell, the impact that it had on his family, the way that I think in an absolutely terrible way a police officer went before a camera and demanded the resignation of the Minister. I listened to that. I was horrified. It should never have happened and that is why I am making an apology. But my task, sorry, is to make a much narrower legal decision on the allegation that has been made against Sergeant Jones and the allegation is very tight, very specific. It relates to not what he said but what he did not say. It relates to his apparent inability to interfere in the press conference and that decision has been properly mapped out, is rationally taken. That is why I am where I am.
Q440 Chair: Mr Parker, your Mr Hinton was not standing by at the press conference. There is a lot of stuff that Mr Hinton said in the transcript. You have presumably read the transcript by now.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Yes, I have.
Q441 Chair: Are you satisfied that the two versions are compatible because Deborah Glass thinks they should be done for gross misconduct?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: I disagree with that. The terms of reference are quite narrow that he gave a false account and that he deliberately attempted to discredit Mr Mitchell.
Q442 Chair: You do not see any of this in there?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: No, I do not. I understand why people may come to that conclusion and I have to say that if I read the transcript of the meeting with Mr Mitchell and then just listened to the comments they made outside I would absolutely agree that there was a case to answer.
Q443 Chair: What happened in the middle then?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: I have had the ability to read the interviews and all the information surrounding this case and it is quite clear where Stuart Hinton’s head was. He genuinely believed that Mr Mitchell had used the words "pleb" and "moron" and he explains that by the fact that the officers had written down those words in their pocket notebooks. That was his belief. I am not saying it was right but that was his belief. When he came out and said, "He did not say what he said", what he is meaning there is he did not say the words "pleb" and "moron" which I might not agree with that but that was his honestly held belief and we have to take a view.
Q444 Chair: Mr Parker and Mr Sims, you are both leaders of your profession. You will attend leadership conferences. You give speeches on the issue. You have enormous power over the lives of ordinary citizens. You are aware of the public concern about this. You are aware of what the Prime Minister has said, what the Home Secretary has said, what the chair and the deputy chair of the IPCC has said but this does not seem to have any impact on either of you.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: It has had an enormous impact.
Q445 Chair: It does not seem to.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I have a duty to look at this as a legal decision and I think so much of the debate today has not been about the narrow legal issue relating to the officer. It has been around the whole event. I utterly condemn the event but going back to the narrow question, the allegation served on my officer I think early April because he was not part of the initial investigation, if it is helpful I could refer to part of the decision.
Q446 Chair: No, no, because we are looking at decisions and then a final question from Mr Reckless. Mr Parker, how many people have been dismissed from Warwickshire force for gross misconduct? Sorry, Mr McCabe, you are next.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: I believe in the last five years we have dismissed nine people.
Chair: Nine people?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: We are the smallest force in the UK.
Chair: Nine people in five years? How many have been done for misconduct?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: We have had 25 hearings for gross misconduct and I believe 33 hearings for just misconduct.
Q447 Chair: But how many decisions have been made for misconduct?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: I understand there are about 100, I am not sure. I think it is around 130 completed cases around misconduct over those years but I would need to get the exact figure.
Q448 Chair: Mr Shaw, how many people have been dismissed from West Mercia for gross misconduct or misconduct?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Since I have been Chief six.
Chair: Six, and that is how many years?
Chief Constable David Shaw: Two, two and a bit years.
Q449 Chair: Mr Sims?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Twenty-one in the past 18 months.
Q450 Chair: For gross misconduct?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Yes, you can only be dismissed for gross misconduct.
Q451 Chair: How many have had a notification?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I do not have that.
Chair: If you could write to us and tell us.
Q452 Steve McCabe: I wonder if you can just help me with this part of this. Am I to understand that if a police officer falsely represents the position what his superior officer, in this case the Chief Constable believes that he did that because his head was in the wrong and that it was not a deliberate action then that does not constitute misconduct in any circumstances? Is it possible that there are officers in all three forces who are going around their respective areas misrepresenting fights in relation to members of the public, maybe people who are ending up in court but providing their defence is that their head was in the wrong place they are not guilty of any misconduct? Is that seriously what we are supposed to believe?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: No, not at all. We are talking about a specific incident.
Q453 Steve McCabe: I am talking about he said about his head, I really want to know.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: I understand that but we are talking about a specific incident and my officer was referring to the incident involving the Metropolitan Police where the words "pleb" and "morons" were used. It was not very charitable of Stuart Hinton because I am quite sure that unless the Minister had said he used those words he was always going to say he had not said what he said.
Q454 Steve McCabe: What does constitute misconduct? What kind of test of evidence, what is the threshold for you guys? It is a difficult thing, I accept that and you do not want to have your officers unfairly maligned but what would constitute misconduct as far as you are concerned?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: I mean, certainly if someone deliberated lied in my view that is gross misconduct. Integrity is a big issue, and if you listen to the interview with Mr Mitchell my office had talked nothing but about integrity because there is difference of view between the Metropolitan officers and the Minister.
Q455 Steve McCabe: Did you listen to the evidence that the three officers gave here today?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Yes, I did.
Q456 Steve McCabe: Were you persuaded? You found that very convincing?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: No, I thought it was not convincing in the context of some of the answers they gave but I have had to look or should I say the appropriate officer has had to look at the evidence before him and make a decision. It would be quite improper if he was influenced by the politics of it or media opinion. He has to look at the evidence and make a decision.
Q457 Steve McCabe: I am not suggesting they should be influenced by the media position. I am curious. Obviously eight days ago all three of you were very clear that there was not sufficient evidence and you have explained that you are now locked into a legal process and two of you would not risk reversing that. Mr Shaw obviously has some doubts because he has found a device which means it can be looked at again so that would imply that he has some doubt.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I am not saying that. I believe that a proper, objective, rational decision was made.
Q458 Steve McCabe: Yes, I know, and you are going to stand by it. You believe your officer is not guilty of misconduct.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: In terms of the allegation made against him it would be impossible to prove that at a gross misconduct hearing. That is what I believe.
Q459 Steve McCabe: It would be impossible?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: That is the decision that we are making as to whether the officer should stand at a hearing and the decision we are taking is that there is nothing.
Q460 Steve McCabe: I just want to be clear that I have understood this correctly. What you are saying is the decision that was taken was correct because in your professional judgment this investigation has not produced sufficient evidence to justify misconduct proceedings and you are standing by that as is Chief Constable Parker.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: That is correct, thank you. Yes.
Q461 Steve McCabe: Mr Shaw has some doubts because he has found a device to look at it again. That is fair, is it not?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I would not call it a device.
Q462 Steve McCabe: Yes, you have identified a flaw in the proceedings, I apologise, but if you had the same view as your two colleagues you would not be seeking a redetermination, would you?
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, we have a difference of view then.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Yes.
Steve McCabe: Absolutely.
Q463 Mark Reckless: I might just summarise. The difference of view is quite extraordinary. Mr Shaw is saying that this has not been done according to the law, and I agree with you, Mr Shaw, but you are saying that another Chief Constable is going to have to look at it and look at it on the basis of report A that had Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams and his conclusion in it. Mr Parker is saying that he is absolutely happy because his delegated Appropriate Authority decided on the basis of report B.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Can I be quite clear here? The Appropriate Authority in my force made a decision on the investigating officer’s report but without the conclusions. It is whether or not not having those conclusions made any material difference to his decision making. He has since seen the report from Chief Inspector, his conclusions, and the report from the Inspector, his conclusions, and he confirms that would have made no material difference to his decision making.
Q464 Mark Reckless: With respect I am not sure that is correct because the Appropriate Authority whether you delegate that or not are required to do is to operate on the basis of schedule three of the 2002 Police Reform Act, and Mr Shaw again has had his review and determined that that has not happened and is therefore asking the decision to be taken again hopefully lawfully. You are telling us you are happy for this decision to be made on the basis of report B that did not have any conclusion, any findings from the investigating officer properly.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: He had the report of the investigating officer. He had all the summary by the investigating officer. He had all the primary evidence. What he did not have was the opinion.
Q465 Mark Reckless: I am sorry that was from Inspector Smith. The investigating officer, the person appointed to investigate the complaint and approved by the IPCC was Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams. He had written his conclusion, his findings that there should be a misconduct and they were taken out.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: The understanding of my Appropriate Authority was that it was the Inspector who was the investigating authority. That is what his belief was. He was told at that meeting on 1 August that he thought there was no case to answer. He was also made aware at that meeting that the Chief Inspector said there was a case to answer. He decided knowing those two opposing views to go away independently and look at all the evidence and come to his own conclusion. We have since been told because he did that in good faith and thought that was the correct procedure at the time because as you have heard West Mercia police thought that the IPCC had directed him not to give the conclusions. He made his decision in good faith. Since then he has found that that is actually incorrect procedure. We have been informed of that.
Q466 Mark Reckless: Surely it is unlawful procedure.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: What I have asked him to do is to look at the conclusions to see if that would have affected his determination and it would not.
Q467 Mark Reckless: Which conclusions? Which report?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Of both reports.
Q468 Mark Reckless: Which report, A, B or C?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: A and B.
Q469 Mark Reckless: But not C, the one that has been-
Chief Constable Andy Parker: No, all the reports. He has seen all the reports and that would make no material difference to his decision making. I would not want to spend any more public money revisiting this case when he has made the decision with all the evidence before him.
Q470 Mark Reckless: He is making his decision on the basis of what he describes as the investigating officer, that is Inspector Smith who was not the individual who was appointed under 17(2) to investigate this complaint and approved by the IPCC.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: He has seen reports from both the Inspector and the Chief Inspector.
Q471 Mark Reckless: But there is only person who is appointed to make this report.
Chair: Who was that?
Mark Reckless: That was Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: I understand that but I can absolutely assure you it was-
Q472 Chair: Sorry, Mr Parker, if you understand that then surely you accept Mr Reckless’ point. If you understand that he has looked at the report of the wrong person in effect then it needs to be looked at again. Sorry, just for the record when did this review take place?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Sorry, which review?
Q473 Chair: When did he look at all this evidence?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Okay, on 1 August.
Q474 Chair: This is Mr Cann is it?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: No, this is Mr Brunton.
Q475 Chair: Mr Brunton, when did he do it?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: On 1 August he had what he thought was the investigating officer’s report which was Inspector Smith and his summary. He thought he was the investigating officer at that time.
Mark Reckless: Quite. So why did he look at it again? Why do you not do what Mr Shaw is doing?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: He had all the evidence in front of him to make a rational decision based on all the evidence.
Q476 Chair: No but, Mr Parker that is the point that Mr Reckless is making. He had a report written by someone who was not the investigating officer.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: I absolutely understand that point.
Q477 Chair: He also not had the benefit of the wide experience of the IPCC who West Mercia initially wanted to do the whole investigation themselves which came out in the letter from Deborah Glass. He has had new evidence now and new matters which he should consider. Do you not think as the Appropriate Authority you should step in now and do what Mr Shaw has done and show a bit of leadership and make the decision?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: There is no new evidence. My Deputy Chief Constable looked at two summaries, one by the investigating officer which we are now calling the Chief Inspector and the Inspector. They were summaries of the evidence that he saw and he has now seen both of those and he has confirmed that they would have made no difference to his decision making.
Q478 Chair: We understand that but he obviously has not done it since last week. Mr Reckless, Mr Ruane and Mr McCabe.
Q479 Mark Reckless: The question is not whether it made a difference but whether it was done lawfully under schedule three of the Act and I think you have it clear that the investigating officer was not that one who had been appointed under 17(2). If I can move on now to Mr Sims who has a different and conflicting legal argument. His seems to be that the action was lawful at West Midlands because it was based on report C. You, I understand, have heard the evidence that was given by Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams and he has stated to this Committee that he does not agree with that report. They are not his findings.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I am sorry, he signed it.
Q480 Mark Reckless: Yes, but he has stated here he does not agree with it.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: This is something outside of my experience that the IPCC refused to release to us that second report but we now have it. My officer has reviewed the content of that report which is opinion not information. You will find that as an addendum to the material that is going to be released by you after the meeting.
Chair: It has just been released.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I think he has probably again objectively, with some legal advice as well taken into account the opinion that is in that additional report and has found that it does not alter his original decision.
Q481 Mark Reckless: The Chief Inspector or your assistant?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: My ACC.
Q482 Mark Reckless: But what you have heard from the Chief Inspector who is appointed as the authority to investigate this and as the only one law is he does not agree with the report, the conclusions.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I did not hear him say that he disagreed.
Q483 Mark Reckless: The record will show.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: He did not disagree with the right of the decision makers to make their decisions.
Q484 Mark Reckless: Indeed, what he said but do you recall him saying that the final report needed to reflect the views of the Appropriate Authority?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Yes.
Q485 Mark Reckless: Is it not the case that under the law it says at 22(3), "A person appointed under paragraph 17 or 18 shall submit a report on his investigation to the Commission and send a copy of that report to the Appropriate Authority"?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: In this case the IPCC stopped that process happening. When we got the report eventually which was only last week we did the process that I have just described. It was reviewed as an addendum to our decision making and I think it is an objective decision.
Q486 Mark Reckless: Finally, Chair, if I may, did you hear that Chief Inspector say that his report was not compliant with 22(6) that I asked him was it not the case that a person submitting such a report under 22(6) that it had to include all such matters in his report as he thinks fit, and he admitted to this Committee it did not do so contrary to law. Yet you are relying on that.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: We have worked on the version of the report and I have lost track of A, B or C that was approved by the IPCC. It is their supervised inquiry. They approved the report. They sent us the report and my officer properly made a decision based on that decision.
Q487 Mark Reckless: With respect surely it is the job of the Chief Inspector, Reakes-Williams. He has been appointed as the person to investigate it but who approves it? He approves it. He sends to the IPCC, copies it to you and that is what happens.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: No, it is a supervised investigation.
Q488 Mark Reckless: Indeed, not a managed one, not a managed one.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Not a managed one so the IPCC approves the report which they did.
Q489 Mark Reckless: It is not going to make any difference if they are not happy. There is nothing they can do about it. It is a managed investigation where they approve the report.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: No, no, be clear. They are approving the investigation and I heard Ms Glass say that she was very happy with the investigation.
Q490 Mark Reckless: But not with its findings and those findings are not those of the-
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Not with-
Chair: Could we just have one Member speaking? Mr Reckless, could you conclude?
Mark Reckless: She did not approve the finding. She thought it should be gross misconduct. The officer she approved to investigate this, the only one in law, said it should misconduct, yet you have approved it on the basis of the report saying there is no case to answer.
Chair: Can I just say to my colleagues that we have now been sitting for a long time? Could we have quick, short and sharp questions starting with Mr Ruane?
Q491 Chris Ruane: Following on from this, we have had Mr Shaw, who does want a re-determination, Mr Sims, who does not want a re-determination, and Mr Parker, who does not want a re-determination. How do we go forward? Who has the final say? Is it two against one or does Mr Shaw have seniority over-
Chief Constable David Shaw: If I could help there-
Q492 Chair: If you can do so quickly.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Very quickly. I think it is evident that we are three Chief Constables who are entirely independent of thought and deed and we are entitled to, and as you can see we will occasionally, make different decisions.
Q493 Chair: Indeed.
Chief Constable David Shaw: The decision for my officer’s case to go for re-determination is mine and mine alone.
Q494 Chair: Do any of you all want to send this to the IPCC again?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I don’t think that is a possibility.
Q495 Chair: No. Mr Parker?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: I don’t think that is a possibility as well.
Q496 Chair: Mr Shaw?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I don’t think it was but I wish that it could because I always wanted it to go there.
Chair: You did. You are very consistent.
Q497 Steve McCabe: Can I just ask if Mr Shaw is successful and a fourth separate independent Chief Constable recommends that there should be misconduct proceedings against Mr Shaw’s officer, where is that going to leave us? That is going to mean that in one force the chap will face misconduct proceedings and the two other people who took part in the same event are going to escape. Are you going to be comfortable with that state of affairs?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Let us be frank that the IPCC did not produce a decision. They produced a narrative of the events. When-
Q498 Chair: Mr Sims, can you answer Mr McCabe’s question?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Yes, very directly.
Q499 Chair: Yes, please.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: The decision has to relate to individual officers. You might well expect-in fact, if you look closely at the evidence, I think you would almost certainly expect there to be a different decision for the three officers because their involvement and the specifics of the allegations made are very, very different.
Chair: Fine. Mr Ruane, you wanted to have a comeback?
Chris Ruane: That was the exact question I was going to ask.
Q500 Mr Clappison: Sir, can I have the attention of the Chief Officers? I appreciate the attitude with which you have come to the Committee this afternoon, perhaps not agreeing on every particular piece of evidence but can I ask you this? You have been listening to this evidence this afternoon. What you have heard, what the public have heard about this, do you think it will engender confidence in the way in which complaints against the police are investigated? Perhaps if you can, each of you, tell me yes or no will do.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: No and I am a firm supporter of independence within complaint investigation. It should have happened in this case from the start and, no, I think if you were sitting dispassionately listening, I do not suppose for a minute following your understanding of the tangled events, it would absolutely not for you have gone through at all.
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, and if some good is going to come out of this, we might see some significant change that will help the investigation of police complaints become even more open and even more transparent.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: No, this should have been independently investigated.
Mr Clappison: Very helpful. Thank you very much.
Q501 Michael Ellis: After all that, do you really think, Officers, that the police should investigate themselves? Would you not find that chief officers will be understandably naturally pre-disposed to support your officers because what your officers do reflects on yourselves? So do you think, as a point of principle, that it is appropriate for police to investigate themselves?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: My view has always been that investigation should be independently done not because police do not investigate things well. I think they do and I certainly do not agree with your comment that we would not prosecute our own officers because we do regularly, and we expect high standards of behaviour, but I think in terms of public confidence it is really important that investigations are seen to be independent. Had this been independent, we would not be sat here today.
Q502 Michael Ellis: Can we remind ourselves-did you want to say-Mr Sims, yes.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Yes, I think there is a scale of offences, is there not? There is a scale of complaints. At the lower end, I think it is appropriate that they are dealt with speedily and locally. At the more serious end and where there is public interest, yes, definitely, there needs to be independence but I do think one needs to look at our decision-making. It would have been very much easier for us to have made a different decision and not spend a lot of time here but our decision-making is legal. It is objective and that is what we offer the public.
Q503 Michael Ellis: You say it is legal but as Mr Reckless was exploring, is it not unlawful for anyone other than the investigating officer, namely, in this case the Chief Inspector, to raise a decision in this case and this whole saga gives the impression that the Chief Inspector’s views, which were that the misconduct proceeding should follow, were usurped by others and therefore that his views as the investigating officer were not followed?
Chief Constable David Shaw: I have to come in on that. I know you heard Jerry Reakes-Williams say he has come under no pressure whatsoever to change his view, and you have also heard the IPCC say there is no evidence of anything untoward-
Chair: I don’t think Mr Ellis was suggesting that.
Michael Ellis: That is not what I was saying.
Chief Constable David Shaw: No, I think the suggestion of usurping does suggest some form of influence and I think that influence-
Q504 Michael Ellis: Ms Glass, Mr Shaw, is a lady with 13 years’ experience and she said to this Committee more than once she was amazed-"amazed", that was her word-by the decision that there will be no action in this case. It is her job, even more so than yourselves as Chief Officers, to deal specifically with complaints because you have other things to be doing.
Chief Constable David Shaw: Yes.
Q505 Michael Ellis: Yet she thought that she could be amazed by this decision. Does that not give you considerable cause for concern? Does it not look as though, effectively, the two versions of this report that you happened to have seen, the Inspector’s and the Chief Inspector’s, one version has been picked and chosen over the other?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Can I just make the point-it is really important-when my officer made his determination, he had not seen either of those reports in terms of the conclusions? So it is not a question of ignoring it or usurping it or any other words. He had not seen it. He made an independent decision without reference to that so he was not-apart from knowing that the Chief Inspector had a contrary view, he had seen nothing in writing supporting that. He made his own view, which I think is very important, based on all the evidence.
Q506 Michael Ellis: But it was irregular for him to have seen a report without conclusions, was it not?
Chief Constable Andy Parker: It was irregular and I think his position was he made that decision in good faith. He believed he was doing it correctly, that is, there were two different conclusions, he had best look at it on his own so he was not influenced by either, and he came up with a very reasoned decision.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I would just add, Mr Ellis, I think it would have been interesting and instructive if Ms Glass had had to have the rigor of making a decision. In actual fact, what she has provided is a really public-facing narrative about the event but she has not-and has chosen not to because of the decision to have it as a supervised investigation-had to make a decision. I stand by the officer in West Midlands, who has reviewed all the evidence against the allegation and come up with an objective decision.
Q507 Michael Ellis: I respect that, Mr Sims, but did you not say that it raises serious concerns about the judgment of those who took part in this meeting and has been immensely damaging to the reputation of the whole police service? Those were your words.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Yes.
Q508 Michael Ellis: Yet you say that, frankly, this is the IPCC’s fault.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: No, not at all. I am saying that, in a sense, there are two parallel processes here. There is a narrow investigation into a discipline misconduct issue and there is a much wider public issue about the behaviour of the three officers. The campaign that the Federation was running, I utterly abhor that and I apologise to Mr Mitchell for that, but my job legally is to look at the allegation made and, objectively, we have done that and found that there is no evidence to support against that allegation.
Q509 Michael Ellis: Thank you, Mr Sims. Mr Parker, did you want to add anything? I saw you nodding.
Chief Constable Andy Parker: Yes, basically, my officer should never have got involved in this political campaign and it is embarrassing for Warwickshire Police that they did, and this has brought nothing but discredit on the force. It is that aspect particularly that we have concern about and, certainly, I can assure, and I think I have put it in my report, officers from Warwickshire Federation will not be campaigning politically in that way again. It was ill-conceived and misguided but that does not mean that Stuart Hinton gave a deliberate false account or deliberately tried to discredit Mr Mitchell.
Q510 Chair: Yes, Mr Sims? We are coming to the end now.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Just one very quick point, which I made in the submission to you, and that is about the Federation. I think the Federation is in a very ambiguous position and in an inappropriately ambiguous position. I welcome the review that Sir David Normington is carrying out. I utterly recognise that where there are no trade union rights, there needs to be very visible representation but the 1969 legislation gives no guidance at all in terms of what campaigning could look like. I think Mr Reckless referred a little bit earlier, as part of my management action, which follows the conclusion of the investigation, I have looked at the facilities currently given to my Federation officers and I will use those facilities to be able to curtail any such future activity. I think if one is looking for any positive outcome from this, I think that is the positive outcome.
Chair: Of course. Yes, thank you.
Q511 Mr Winnick: Chief Constable, let us be absolutely clear on this. You are not questioning, I hope, the right of police officers to campaign? This is a democracy. Police officers or no police officers, there is a right to campaign against what they consider to be unjust and in this case in the West Midlands, the cuts in the police force, which you may or may not agree with as regard to their protest, they have a legitimate position.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Yes, I think the cuts are for another hearing but what I do say is that Mr Reckless’ point is absolutely right. There is public money that is being used by the Federation and what I should do is to make sure that any attempt to spend that money in a way that is novel or contentious has to come through the force and for us to agree to it.
Q512 Mr Winnick: Would it be right, Chief Constable, to come to the view that the feeling in the West Midlands-as Chief Constable, you have a pretty good knowledge of what is happening in the other parts of the country, also no doubt adversely affected by the cuts, but in the West Midlands, because of the impact of the cuts, which you yourself have spoken about in the previous Home Affairs Committee, it has brought a particular form of added anger because the West Midlands has been hit hardest?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I think it has adversely affected officers but I would not attempt to build that into today’s proceedings because my officers are working very hard. They kept their motivation and the majority will look at today’s proceedings and be as, I think, disappointed, let us say, as the rest of us.
Q513 Mr Winnick: Yes, their right to protest, whether we really are sympathetic or not, you have admitted it is certainly not in question anyway. Therefore, would you accept that what is unfortunate in this whole sorry saga, which has gone on for too long, cost far too much money, taxpayers’ money by the way, and of course the reputation of the former Cabinet Minister, I do not challenge that for one moment but the whole sorry business is that it has been caught up unfortunately with the linking at the time between the questioning of Mr Mitchell over what occurred at Downing Street, when he was refused permission and used certain words that you would not consider or any of us consider appropriate, and the position over cuts? Would you accept that that is the unfortunate aspect as far as West Midlands are concerned?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: It is, yes.
Chair:Thank you. Mr Ruane has a very quick question.
Mr Winnick: Very quickly, you are agreeing?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Yes.
Q514 Chair: Do you all agree with that?
Q515 Chris Ruane: Further clarification from Mr Sims: if I understood you correctly, if you as Chief Constable sanction your local Federation’s campaign and their methods of campaigning, they will get their facilities.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Yes.
Q516 Chris Ruane: If you as Chief Constable do not personally sanction their campaign or campaigning methods, they will not get their facilities. Did I hear you correctly?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: No.
Q517 Chris Ruane: Can you elaborate on what you actually said?
Chief Constable Chris Sims: I have no intention of being the decision-maker because it needs to be independent. It needs to be a matter for the Federation but I do think it is appropriate that where there is something novel and contentious-and I think, for example, hiring a PR guru would fit very neatly into that category-then I would expect the force to be told. I would expect there to be a discussion. I will say this, and I am sure the others will think this as well, you have not seen the best of the three Federation representatives today. Mine, in particular, is a good officer put in a difficult position, and they have no desire whatsoever to harm the confidence of the public in policing.
Chair: Let us end by saying this: we would like as a Committee to obviously pass on our thanks to all the very hardworking police officers in the forces.
Chief Constable Chris Sims: Thank you.
Chair: I mentioned the Lapshyn case. You have come here with an apology for Mr Mitchell, all three of you, which we are glad to hear. Mr Shaw, you have decided to re-determine. I think the feeling of the Committee is that you have done the right thing. Irrespective of what has gone on, there is certainly a desire to end this by showing the public that there is a willingness to conclude and to have fresh eyes look at it. I am afraid, Mr Parker and Mr Sims, we think that you made the wrong decision and we feel that you all should have done the same thing by having a re-determination, but we will publish a report. In the meantime, I would be most grateful if you could send us the note of the briefing meeting because we have not seen them and any other information that is relevant, but we are extremely grateful. We noted the fact that in my request for these matters to be dealt with at the Committee, all of you respected that. As I said earlier, we are not a mediation point here. We are fact-finding and we will produce a report based on facts but I thought it was right to tell you our feelings so far. If you have any information that could change those feelings, please write to us. Thank you so much for coming. Thank you.