David Gale makes a personal statement following Derbyshire Constabulary’s persistent failure to: protect three witnesses involved in a court case, properly investigate harassment and witness intimidation, deal appropriately with victims.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has again found against Derbyshire Constabulary in David Gale’s favour, as witnesses now await a third investigation.
David Gale said, “It is entirely unacceptable that witnesses in a court trial should not receive police protection when they are victims of a prolonged campaign of orchestrated witness intimidation.”
“It is clear that there are significant issues with the scrutiny and governance of Derbyshire Constabulary’s complaints process.”
“I am a robust character but I am surprised at the detrimental effect that a year of intimidation and harassment has had. The other witnesses have been in pieces and yet the police and victim support turned their backs on all of us.”
“I’d hoped that this matter would have been resolved by now, some eighteen months after commencement. Whilst I await a further investigation via the IPCC, I have announced my candidacy as Police & Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire. It’s important to note that during the lengthy candidate briefings, Derbyshire Constabulary officers of all ranks have displayed exemplary professionalism and I saw no reason to broach the subject of the ongoing complaint and even less reason to mention it as part of my campaign.”
“However, in the past few weeks, one or more of the individuals originally involved has recommenced harassment, this time focused on my Police Commissioner campaign. It is therefore imperative that I make a statement of my position so that any untoward consequences of other parties’ activities can be set properly into context.”
“I move forward into the election with the advantage of having gained a first-hand understanding of the fundamental failures of Derbyshire Constabulary’s Professional Standards Department and Victim Support. Whilst the vast majority of officers are hard-working conscientious individuals, there is a cultural malaise within some areas of the force that requires the surgical application of a PCC’s knife.”
There are disturbing parallels with the Tania Moore case in that Derbyshire Constabulary failed to put in place a co-ordinating officer to link investigations between each individual instance of harassment and intimidation. No attempt was made to interview key witnesses until nearly a year after the commencement of criminality, and key potential defendants were not interviewed at all. At least one key defendant is alleged to be a known associate of the police inspector who obstructed the original investigation.
All meetings are evidenced by both written and recorded audio files.
4th April 2011: Witnesses intimidated from the moment their names are revealed at preliminary court hearing
13th April 2011: police inspector halts specialist team’s action plan without reviewing evidence
20th April 2011: formal police complaint lodged with Derbyshire Constabulary’s Professional Standards Dept (PSD) on failure to investigate witness intimidation and harassment. At least six individuals identified and corroborated by independent witnesses as involved in orchestrated witness intimidation.
26th May 2011: PSD close the case whilst in the process of making arrangements to receive 140 page evidence bundle
24th June 2011: main instigator of witness intimidation is evidenced in court trial as having committed multiple instances of perjury. The court took no action.
19th August 2011: formal appeal to Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) who find against Derbyshire Constabulary (14.10.11)
16th December 2011: new inquiry launched under Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) from Derbyshire Constabulary
13th January 2012: 160 page evidence bundle hand –delivered to Derbyshire Constabulary
14th June 2012: DCI reports that Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is unlikely to secure a prosecution
27th June 2012: victims turned away by Victim Support (email & audio file)
2nd July 2012: CPS reveal that case was archived with only one defendant on a charge of harassment
23rd July 2012: fresh appeal to IPCC which again finds against Derbyshire Constabulary (10.10.12)
On 4th April 2011, during a preliminary hearing, a summary of evidence from three witnesses, including me, was outlined at Derby County Court. By 6 o’clock that evening I had received a report from one of the witnesses of harassing text messages sent by a third party to the witness and the witness’s daughter suggesting that they should not be involved in the case. Within a week, there had been over a dozen individual instances of harassment and intimidation against all three witnesses.
I engaged with a specialist police team on 13th April 2011 and by the following day they had an action plan in place that included the option to arrest one or more of those involved. Their plan was halted by an operational inspector who, without having reviewed any of the evidence applied a blanket ban on officers dealing with the issue of intimidation.
The orchestrated intimidation continued and escalated involving at least six individuals and included multiple instances of: having people follow witnesses in cars, having them under observation in their homes, harassing phone calls and text messages to witnesses and their children, appearing on multiple ocassions (without children to collect) in the school playground of a witness’s children, threatening behaviour, abuse and harassment in the street, noise nuisance outside witnesses’ homes, gang of people outside a witness’s home, hammering on a witness’s front door with screamed verbal abuse, and even vexatious civil court processes initiated solely to harass.
I made a formal complaint to Derbyshire Constabulary’s Professional Standards Dept (PSD) on 20th April 2011 following which I was interviewed by officers from PSD on 26th May. Throughout this period, the harassment and intimidation continued with junior officers claiming that they were being prevented from delivering a co-ordinated inquiry into witness intimidation by the same operational inspector who had originally intervened. Some junior officers had clearly falsified records at the instruction of their inspector and others proclaimed their disquiet at not being able to carry out what they knew was their duty. Whilst arrangements were still being put in place for PSD to receive a 140 page bundle of evidence, PSD closed the case.
At trial on 24th June 2011, relating to the original case, the details of which I may not reveal, the main instigator of the orchestrated witness intimidation was demonstrated as having committed multiple instances of perjury in both written and verbal submissions relating to the original case. The court took no action.
On 19th August 2011 I logged a formal appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) who found in my favour on 14th October 2011. A Detective Chief Inspector from Derbyshire Constabulary was assigned to a fresh investigation and made contact on 16th December 2011. In the interim, there was a positive identification of the police inspector who had blocked the original investigation as a known associate of some of those involved in the orchestrated witness intimidation.
On 13th January 2012, I hand-delivered the now 160 page evidence bundle to St Mary’s Wharf police station in Derby. It was the first time that any police officer had had any of the evidence since it was first reviewed by the specialist team on 13th April 2011. I inserted a coded page separator in to the bundle with an explicit instruction to contact me immediately upon its discovery. It also had on it references to instructions that would be received in the future to acknowledge the presence of the page separator. It is a simple device that demonstrates that a document has been reviewed and something that the IPCC themselves dealt with without issue. Despite multiple email prompts with questions about specific pages of evidence that would have taken an investigating officer to the specific location of the page separator, no acknowledgement was ever received of its discovery.
At a meeting on 20th March 2012, I asked the DCI to bring with him the evidence bundle that I had supplied to him. On examination of the bundle, the loose page separator lay undisturbed in its original position. At this point, I had grave doubts as to whether the evidence had been properly reviewed.
The DCI stated that his investigations were complete and that he was awaiting a decision from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). On 14th June 2012, the DCI relayed a decision by CPS that there was no realistic prospect of a successful prosecution.
On 10th July 2012, in preparation for discussion with CPS, one of the other witnesses requested a copy of their own statement from Derbyshire Constabulary. The police responded by stating that it would require a formal Subject Access Request and would be subject to an administration fee. The witness duly complied, sent off a formal request and cheque but received no response. On later contacting Derbyshire Constabulary the witness was told that they had no record of having received the request and that the process would have to start again. This gave Derbyshire Constabulary an additional 40 days to meet the request. A copy of the witness statement was finally forthcoming some three months after the original request.
On 2nd, 12th, and 23rd July 2012 contact was made with CPS to make arrangements to review the case. I was surprised to be told that the case had been archived and that it involved only one defendant on a minor charge of harassment. I was assured that the senior case lawyer and Head of the Trials Unit would contact me. No contact has been forthcoming.
Although harassment and intimidation ceased abruptly at the end of March 2012, following the DCI’s involvement in the case, witnesses had endured nearly 12 months of harassment and intimidation which had a devastating impact on all three witnesses.
The witnesses were not referred to Victim Support until June 2012, some 14 months after the intimidation had started. That engagement was cut short when the agency delegated by Victim Support stated that because the police had stopped investigating, they could no longer be involved. Pleas to find other routes for assistance were turned down flat as evidenced in an audio recording.
At a meeting with the DCI on 21st June 2012, I put to him a number of questions which appeared to have remained unanswered. These remained unanswered and were sent again in writing on 7th July 2012. The questions included:
- A request for confirmation that the DCI was aware of information that discounted two of the accused’s alibis.
- A request to confirm or deny that at least one of the accused was a known associate of the inspector who had originally obstructed the investigation into witness intimidation.
Despite receiving an acknowledgement of receipt, Derbyshire Constabulary has not answered these important questions. Of at least six people implicated by corroborated witness statements from independent witnesses, only three have been interviewed, two of whom have unconvincing alibis. At least one of the individuals that remains to be interviewed is a known associate of the inspector who obstructed the original investigation. The potential charges include: witness intimidation, harassment, obstructing a police investigation, perjury and perverting the course of justice.
On 23rd July 2012, I lodged a fresh appeal to the IPCC which again found in my favour on 10th October 2012.
- On 14th October 2011, having thoroughly documented a libellous smear campaign conducted against him by senior officers of Derby City Council as he sought to bring to light £20 million of lost council efficiencies, David Gale received a formal written apology from the council. A refusal to answer a further twelve outstanding points was sanctioned jointly by Derby City Council’s Chief Executive, Adam Wilkinson, and the then Conservative Leader of the council, Philip Hickson. Philip Hickson is the current Chair of Derbyshire’s Police Authority and has referred to David Gale as a ‘dangerous man’. The authority’s Vice-Chair, who also heads up the Professional Standards (PSD) committee, is Alan Charles, Labour’s candidate in the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
- During a period that has seen a reduction of 4% nationally of complaints against police, Derbyshire Constabulary’s Professional Standards Department (PSD) has seen a 10% increase. Appeals to the IPCC have seen a 15% increase.
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Notes for editors:
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