Stevens, MacPherson and the Summer of '98
Early April ’15, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) referred former Commissioner Lord John STEVENS of Kirkwhelpington to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). This was a result of the findings of the 2014 ELLISON Review of possible police corruption in the Stephen LAWRENCE case and a formal complaint by Stephen’s father, Neville LAWRENCE. (see here)
The IPCC enquiry will examine whether or not John STEVENS failed to tell the 1998-99 MACPHERSON Inquiry into the murder of Steven LAWRENCE about relevant corruption allegations against MPS police witnesses. Throughout the MACPHERSON hearings and preparation of the Inquiry Report, STEVENS was Deputy Commissioner of the MPS and officer in overall command of overt and covert MPS anti-corruption operations. In late May ’15, the IPCC announced it was widening its scope to include other senior MPS officers alleged to have colluded in a cover up. It is a matter of public record that senior officers in roles well-placed to disclose MPS knowledge of corruption allegations would have included Roy CLARK, Dave WOOD, Andy HAYMAN and John YATES.
WHAT MACPHERSON ASKED FOR
In January 1998, the BBC broadcast a Panorama exposé of alleged corruption at the South East Regional Crime Squad (SERCS). The adverse publicity pushed police corruption and reputation concerns to the front of MPS priorities. In April, MACPHERSON started requesting information on the probity of police witnesses and behind the scenes private meetings took place with the MPS legal team servicing the Inquiry. MPS lawyers resisted MACPHERSON requests for corruption documents on grounds of relevance, insisted on only ‘racism’ as a focus, and proposed a very limited time frame. They eventually agreed to supply some information confidentially – but with stringent conditions.
Firstly, the documents should be seen only by MACPHERSON himself and Inquiry Counsel with no wider disclosure, for example to the LAWRENCE family. Secondly, the provision of documents would concern only named individual MACPHERSON witnesses (ie not their wider networks of corrupt police associates).
Thirdly, and crucially, only documentation relevant to a narrow 1991-95 period were proposed. This had the effect of ruling out of court any sensitive intelligence prior to ’91 of a corrupt ‘firm within a firm’. If the MACPHERSON Inquiry did not agree then a Public Interest Immunity order (PII) would be issued by the MPS to guarantee secrecy. (ELLISON Review Vol 1 p78)
But MACPHERSON persisted.
“… initially requests for disclosure of material focused on issues of race. This developed to focus on certain key officers, in respect of whom the requests were broadened to discipline and corruption matters beyond the issue of racism”, whether or not substantiated. MACPHERSON needed to consider past patterns concerning networked associations, corrupt informant relationships, and the perverting of criminal investigations.
By the end of April 1998, MACPHERSON’s spotlight had started to focus on three former MPS officers – Ray ADAMS, John ‘OJ’ DAVIDSON, and ‘Officer XX’ Dave COLES.
Ray ADAMS had held senior and influential posts at the MPS – including heading the South East Regional Crime Squad (SERCS) and Commander in Specialist Operations intelligence (SO11). “ADAMS was the subject of two major corruption allegations during his service with the MPS, both of these allegations were investigated…under the auspices of Operation Russell. In addition, ADAMS was the subject of 11 other complaints between 1965 and 1985 all of which were either unsubstantiated, withdrawn or not proceeded with.” (ELLISON Review Vol1 p143)
Allegations included corrupt dealings with Kenneth NOYE who had stabbed serving police officer John FORDHAM to death in 1985. NOYE was also a convicted money-launderer of bullion from the Brinks Mat robbery and was, at the time of the MACPHERSON Inquiry, on the run for the road rage murder of Stephen CAMERON.
John DAVIDSON (nicknamed OJ ‘Obnoxious Jock’) had demonstrable links to corrupt colleagues prior to 1991 and after. During his time at SERCS, he was accused of corruption and disciplinary breaches. He was suspended in 1995, remaining suspended being allowed to retire in 1998. His retirement curtailed pending disciplinary proceedings.
Dave COLES, a Flying Squad officer, was called ‘Officer XX’ by the MACPHERSOJ Inquiry. He had previous links to criminal brothers Alex and Clifford NORRIS. Clifford was the father of one of Stephen Lawrence’s murderers with alleged links to Kenny NOYE. COLES had been observed under surveillance meeting with Cliff NORRIS three times under suspicious circumstances.
Still smarting from the high profile corruption trial of SERCS officer John DONALD the year before – STEVENS had supervised the resultant MPS review – 1998 did not start well for Scotland Yard’s reputation. (here)
Early 1998 foreshadowed a nightmare summer for the MPS when anti-corruption officers raided their own Flying Squad at Rigg Approach.
In February, the Sunday Times published an article ‘Yard officers sold secrets to criminals’, alleging officers were moonlighting for criminals and selling sensitive information from the Police National Computer (PNC).
Then in April, HM Customs and Excise had to inform the MPS they had a suspected corrupt officer working right at the heart of their own anti-corruption intelligence unit. HMCE had arrested a drugs money launderer and registered police informant who told them he had corrupted his MPS handler. The handler, Paul CARPENTER, had allegedly divulged intelligence information on drugs investigations for large payoffs.
Also in April, permission was sought and granted for Operation Two Bridges. This was a covert operation to bug the premises of Southern Investigations which was a private detective agency believed to be corrupting serving and former MPS officers. The two owners of Southern Investigations, Jonathan REES and Sid FILLERY (a former MPS detective) were suspects in the murder of Daniel MORGAN in 1987.
In conjunction with the public MACPHERSON criticisms, the MPS could only foresee even more reputational damage. Circumstances called for a sea change in relations between the MPS and MCPHERSON to keep control. It appears that after April STEVENS started to correspond with MACPHERSON Secretariat direct, bypassing the MPS own legal team set up to service the Inquiry.
The key question was how much worse could it get?
THE SUMMER OF ’98
MACPHERSON wrote to Deputy Commissioner STEVENS on 11 June 1998 following a Guardian article: ‘Police corruption exposed’. MACPHERSON asked STEVENS to confirm the Guardian’s allegations did not include any police witnesses to his Inquiry, or any police linked to the murder suspects’ families. STEVENS responded the next day pointing out past corruption investigation documents relating to witness Ray ADAMS had been provided to MACPHERSON direct. As to other officers, STEVENS admitted some other documentation but added,
“None of the intelligence I refer to is being developed at this stage, although it relates to witnesses to the Inquiry.”
Technically, STEVENS could tell MACPHERSON accurately that no police witness was currently (as at June 1998) under formal investigation for corruption.
Arguably though, that fell far short of what MACPHERSON and the LAWRENCE family could have been told. What they really needed was to know if Ray ADAMS or John ‘OJ’ DAVIDSON could be shown to have a tendency to corruption before and after the murder of Stephen LAWRENCE in 1993. Tactically narrowing the focus to 1991-95 made that almost impossible.
April 24 and 27 ’98 – John DAVIDSON gave evidence to MACPHERSON. The Inquiry Report said he “was a self-willed and abrasive officer who more than once became excited and angry in the witness box. Against him there were strong allegations made on behalf of Mr & Mrs LAWRENCE. Mr MANSFIELD (QC) alleged that Det Sgt DAVIDSON was guilty of a combination of failures and mistakes which if unexplained were ‘sufficiently fundamental that they provide a basis for inferring either gross negligence, or worse an attempt to thwart the effectiveness of the investigation.’ ” (MACPHERSON Report 19.8)
4 June ’98 – Ray ADAMS gave evidence to the MACPHERSON Inquiry. Lines taken by the LAWRENCE family QC alleged ADAMS’
” nominal role masked another purpose. The suggested purpose was to influence the investigation so that the suspects named over the first week end were not arrested expeditiously. A potential channel for such influence arises from Commander ADAMS’ previous links
with Kenneth NOYE who in turn has links with Clifford NORRIS. ” (MACPHERSON Report 31.6)
June ’98 – Operation Two Bridges intelligence was augmented by the successful bugging of Southern Investigations premises. Evidence emerged of corrupt officers providing confidential police information to REES and FILLERY who were acting as brokers in selling information on to journalists from national newspapers – particularly the News of the World and the Mirror. That circle of serving, suspended and former MPS officers included known associates of John DAVIDSON.
23 June 98 – Ten security services chiefs and top police officers from across Britain attended a sensitive meeting in London to discuss formulating a national anti-corruption initiative. A strong media strategy was also needed to address a swathe of forthcoming corruption trials. The meeting was told, “Intelligence development to combat corruption should include investigation analysis of the recipients, brokers and sources of leaks to the media.” The minutes of the secret meeting were leaked to the Sunday Telegraph which published their story a few weeks later. (The Untouchables p331)
16 July ’98 – Given the Inquiry concerns, Ray ADAMS and John DAVIDSON were both recalled to give further evidence to the MACPHERSON Inquiry.
28 July ’98 – SERCS detective Neil PUTNAM was arrested (Operation Russia) for criminal offences. During questioning, he began to confess corrupt and crimjnal practices with other SERCS colleagues, including John DAVIDSON. De-briefing PUTNAM continued over the summer of ’98, during which he asserts he told his anti-corruption de-briefers that DAVIDSON had admitted having a corrupt relationship with Clifford NORRIS whilst serving on the Stephen LAWRENCE murder investigation team (though this is still disputed).
August ’98 – Corrupt former MPS officer Duncan HANRAHAN told a fellow inmate in Parkhurst prison about several crimes he had not admitted when arrested. HANRAHAN was a known associate of Ray ADAMS and the Southern Investigations circle. Unfortunately for HANRAHAN, the fellow convict he chose to confide in was a police informer who promptly reported back to the MPS anti-corruption command. (The Untouchables ch13 The Sleaze Machine)
13 Aug ’98 Anti-corruption surveillance officers observed Crown Prosecution Service worker Mark HERBERT meeting a criminal at a motorway service station. HERBERT was selling the most sensitive list of 33 police informants and was soon arrested. (here)
28 Aug ’98 – Kenny NOYE was located and captured in Spain. The intense media coverage speculated that NOYE had obtained inside information from police investigations which had allowed him to evade arrest for years. The Southern Investigations bugging revealed that their corrupt circle of officers had, for payment, leaked details of the intelligence and covert tracking methods used to trace NOYE.
10 September ’98 – Following information received from Neil PUTNAM, John DAVIDSON’S home was raided for incriminating evidence. STEVENS immediately wrote to MACPHERSON to inform him of developments and to assure him that these new lines of enquiry did not relate to the Stephen LAWRENCE murder investigation.
MACPHERSON responded by return:
“Mr DAVIDSON was, as you know, a central witness in this Inquiry. Strong allegations were made against him, including allegations that he ‘back-pedalled ‘ the investigation and that he lied… You will also appreciate that any wrongdoing would go to Mr DAVIDSON’S credit… Much may turn upon this as the Inquiry proceeds.”
There is no evidence of any response from the MPS to the MACPHERSON 12 Sept letter. It is this failure to respond or provide relevant material requested which is the basis of the current IPCC enquiry into STEVENS and other responsible senior officers.
WHAT COULD MACPHERSON HAVE BEEN TOLD?
Mark ELLISON’S 2014 Review of the Stephen LAWRENCE case sought to assess the extent of MPS knowledge of corruption held in 1998-99 during the MACPHERSON Inquiry. No such original documentation was provided to ELLISON. It could not be found by the MPS; it can be presumed lost, shredded, misplaced, or otherwise suppressed.
ELLISON persisted. He asked the MPS to provide three corruption intelligence analyses known to have been undertaken in 1999-2000 in the wake of the stinging criticism levelled by the publication of the MACPHERSON Report. Despite ‘exhaustive’ searches, the MPS could not find them. ELLISON observed,
“It goes without saying that we would have expected such key potential documents for our Review…to have been captured by a search of MPS records for relevant material. The fact that they were not located when searches were conducted inevitably raises serious questions as to what else of relevance to our terms of reference remains undisclosed.” (ELLISON Review Vol 1 p137)
ELLISON continued to persist.
“We located these reports in a separate review of material which we discovered at the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). One of the reports was also provided to us separately by the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) of the recent murder investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Clive DRISCOLL.”
THE THREE INTELLIGENCE ANALYSES
The First Analysis, dated July ’99
This concentrated on potential links between Clifford / Alex NORRIS, John DAVIDSON, and ‘Officer XX’ Dave COLES. It suggested further action which might map those suspected links, together with another – ‘Officer R’.
The Second Analysis, dated Jan 2000
It explored concerns regarding “John DAVIDSON and his associates and his participation in alleged corruption matters during the course of the initial Stephen LAWRENCE murder investigation. It is based on intelligence… which must be viewed as unconfirmed until proven otherwise… DAVIDSON too has a significant amount of …intelligence relating to alleged corrupt activities, particularly in relation to his relationship with informants and his association with others…. Officer R, Officer K, Officer W…”
Officer W was at that time under investigation for using a registered informant “to introduce false information to cover the current activities of, inter alios, Officer F.” DAVIDSON’S history “suggests that he had no integrity as a police officer and would always have been open to offers from any source if financially viable. His association and links with so many (anti-corruption investigation) targets must be considered beyond coincidence: Officer B, Officer XX, Officer F, Officer K, Putnam, Officer R, Officer W.”
The Third Analysis, dated July 2000
It sought “provide a factual overview of allegations of corruption surrounding the Stephen LAWRENCE case.” The third analysis concentrated on mapping John DAVIDSON’S connections with previous corruption investigations, and with a circle of serving and former officers suspected of corrupt activities. These included the John DONALD investigation (mentioned above) for which DONALD was given an 11 year sentence. Two other officers were suspended but not prosecuted – Tom BRADLEY and Alec LEIGHTON. “The specific allegation made against DAVIDSON was that he was Officer B’s main defence to claims of corrupt contact with DONALD. Officer B claimed that he believed that an incriminating pager message from DONALD signed with the initials ‘JD’ was from DAVIDSON (who) provided a witness statement supporting B’s claims.”
Also detailed was an investigation carried out in 1995 into Officer B, Officer R and John DAVIDSON relating to “the provision of a chauffeur and protection services…” This moonlighting – unauthorised personal protection work – was the cause of DAVIDSON being suspended until his retirement a month before giving his evidence to MACPHERSON. Whilst suspended, DAVIDSON was also accused of unauthorised contact with an informant who had previously been handled by Officer F, Officer B, and Officer R. “DAVIDSON is connected with the following suspected corrupt serving and former officers: Officer B, Officer R, Neil Putnam, Officer W, Officer G, Officer F, Officer K”.
Perhaps most startling, the third analysis also stated, “Intelligence from the ‘Two Bridges’investigation indicated that Det Sgt DAVIDSON was in regular contact with Officers ‘R’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘K’.
(ELLISON Review Vol 1, pp 142-146)
‘TWO BRIDGES’ AND THE SOUTHERN INVESTIGATIONS CIRCLE
ELLISON’S Review strongly recommended that the Daniel MORGAN Independent Panel should secure and consider Operation Two Bridges material as,”We note that a number of the above officers with whom DAVIDSON is said to be connected also figure in the review of Daniel MORGAN’S murder…”
Led by Baroness Nuala O’LOAN, “the Panel is seeking to address the questions relating to police involvement in the murder; the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice and the failure to confront that corruption; and the incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the former News of the World and other parts of the media, and alleged corruption involved in the linkages between them.” (Daniel MORGAN Independent Panel)
Two Bridges had its genesis in Operation Nigeria designed to develop intelligence by covertly investigating Southern Investigations. This phase included the deployment of a CHIS (covert human intelligence source). The Two Bridges phase included intrusive bugging of Southern Investigations premises hoping to garner more evidence about the murder of Daniel MORGAN. (here)
Implicated by the covert recordings were a circle of serving, suspended and former MPS police – including Officers FILLERY, KINGSTON, GRAYSTON, HANRAHAN and WARNES (who used an informant previously handled by John DAVIDSON to introduce false information into a corrupt case).
Surely John DAVIDSON’S links with so many officers in a corrupt circle must indeed be considered beyond coincidence?
Surely too the IPCC enquiry into Lord Stevens et al and the Daniel MORGAN Independent Panel must now examine closely all material of overlapping concern to both?
And surely that is the very least that the families of Daniel MORGAN and Stephen LAWRENCE deserve?
The key question remains – how much worse can it get?