Our Accredited Press and Police
Whilst the sudden closure of the “News of the World” is the latest and most dramatic chapter in the unfolding tale of corruption in high and low places - the trial of eight former
South Wales’ police officers has also just commenced. It has been described as the ’s biggest ever police corruption case. UK
A former Chief-Superintendent, a Chief Inspector and five Detectives are accused of framing five innocent men for the murder of Lynette White in
, fifteen years ago. Cardiff
If they are found guilty there could be huge implications for the hundreds of other cases that these officers have been involved with over the years. When the corrupt West Midlands Serious Crime Squad was exposed in the 1980s, there was an enormous task in reviewing their previous caseload. Over 30 serious crime convictions were quashed on appeal but no officers faced serious charges, although many resigned.
“Operation Countryman” in the 1970s had over 100 potentially corrupted officers in its sights but was pulled by a frightened government.
During Sir Robert Mark’s brief reign as
’s Police Commissioner, nearly 500 officers left the force before they were sacked. London
There have been many more police corruption scandals over the years so it is unlikely that the current trial of eight
South Wales’ officers is truly “the biggest” - but it demonstrates that the problem has not gone away.
, the “News of the World” phone hacking scandal is shaking out yet more corrupt police officers. Not only for providing information to reporters for money but also because of an historic failure to investigate properly, or at all, previous complaints. London
Corruption among police officers, or collusion with criminals and the press is nothing new – but it is clearly very deep rooted within the system and the latest scandal looks likely to have far-reaching ramifications. But will anything really change? And how might it affect us in
Jersey government has made all sorts of claims about the incompetence of the two former most senior officers in the States of Jersey force as a result of the Haut de la Garenne cases and related abuse cases. These officers are no longer in office. But a succession of other very senior trained police officers have been appointed to replace them – only to resign very soon afterwards. UK
There has been a barrage of acrimonious criticism between senior officers, politicians and officers and allegations of corruption at the highest level in government and the administration of justice made by former Senator Stuart Syvret and others.
Unusually, the two officers - Graham Power and Lenny Harper - accused of incompetence by the Jersey Government and other senior officers - are stoutly defended by a strong lobby of bloggers, several back-bench politicians (including Deputy Bob Hill, a former MET police officer for many years), abuse victims and members of the public. It is an unusual pro-ex-police alliance.
On the other hand, the so called accredited media in Jersey, namely Jersey Evening Post, Channel TV and BBC Jersey (Radio 103 being primarily an entertainment outlet) have taken a uniformly predictable pro-government stance which in this instance is pro-current police (a new Chief having been recruited from the City of London force) but hostile to the retired former Chief Mr. Power and his retired assistant Mr. Harper.
At the recent Scrutiny Panel hearing (looking at the related BDO report where Lenny Harper was questioned via an audio-link), I asked him about the surprising number of highly trained officers from the
UK who were falling out among themselves in Jersey. I asked how this reflected upon the standards of policing throughout the . UK
His response was to defend the calibre and competence of
trained police officers. UK
In the currently evolving police/press scandal in
, it is becoming ever more obvious that neither of these “professions” can be trusted to regulate themselves. The sudden closure of the “News of the World” indicates the gravity of the developing scandal but where else it might lead is anybody’s guess. London
Corruption and presumably incompetence within a police force cannot be adequately investigated by other police officers. The same applies to the media. Bodies such as the Press Complaints Authority and the BBC Trust are wholly unsatisfactory and ineffective bodies. Only a media mogul such as Murdoch can make such a dramatic and arbitrary decision as to close a profitable newspaper.
The police have already undertaken several investigations of Mr Power and Mr Harper and the outcome has been wholly unsatisfactory. The behaviour of the
Jersey police in the case of “drug smuggler” Curtis Warren and others is currently being investigated by yet more police.
The role of the “press” in
Jersey is already a contentious matter since the closeness of the relationship with government discourages investigative journalism. There are no locally organised “complaints” procedures and the public must apply to bodies, such as those already referred to, with any grievances. If there is corruption in the UK Jersey media it is unlikely to involve payments for information since the local lazy journalists are only too happy to publish whatever the government or big business press releases say.
The battle for recognition of “bloggers” in
Jersey is yet another issue that needs to be resolved and has wider, national and free expression, dimensions.
In brief, it is inevitable that the regulation and supervision of both police and press will be reconsidered as a result of the “News of the World” scandal. Any reforms will inevitably apply to
We should stimulate our own critical and investigative examination ASAP.