AN investigation into allegations that a Yorkshire police officer convicted for assault in 2006 was the victim of a “cover-up” has been extended and may now be published this summer.
Greater Manchester Police are looking at an “alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice” by officers who gave evidence against Danny Major, a former constable with West Yorkshire Police jailed after being found guilty of assaulting a drunken teenager in custody.
West Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner agreed to refer the case for an independent investigation after claims that officers’ testimonies were unreliable and that key evidence was withheld from the defence.
Major’s family say they are confident the probe will provide enough material for the case to be referred back to the Court of Appeal and for the 36-year-old from Wakefield to have his name cleared.
His mother Bernadette said she originally expected the Operation Lamp investigation, which is being carried out by four officers working full-time, to be published in 2013 after being commissioned in January that year.
She said: “We thought it was all going to be done for last year then Greater Manchester Police asked for six months’ extension, then a further three months and then a final three months. Danny is hanging on every word about the date. They have extended it because they originally thought it would just be reviewing a file, they are now looking at everything West Yorkshire Police looked at. They didn’t expect everything they have found.”
Major was jailed for 15 months after being found guilty of assaulting Sean Rimmington, then 18, who he had just arrested at Millgarth police station in Leeds.
A jury failed to reach a verdict in April 2006, but Major, whose father Eric served for 31 years with West Yorkshire Police, was convicted at a retrial the same year. He served four months of his 15- month sentence.
The judge at Bradford Crown Court was highly critical of the force during his trial, calling the station where the incident occurred “not fit for purpose” and the custody set-up a “shambles”.
He said Rimmington had effectively become a “non-person” for about 40 minutes because no proper custody records had been kept for that time.
Major’s family have been campaigning to have his conviction overturned since he was released from jail in 2007. Challenges at the Court of Appeal and with the Criminal Cases Review Commission were unsuccessful.
A document produced last year setting out the terms of reference for the probe agreed by GMP, West Yorkshire Police and Major’s family said the evidence of three key witnesses would be reviewed. It said: “Danny Major and his family have steadfastly maintained his innocence to this date, that key evidence and material has been withheld or disregarded and the issues of concern have not been thoroughly investigated.”
The review was also expected to “examine the parameters” of the CCTV and forensic evidence considered as part of the original investigation.
In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said it was “conducting an independent review at the request of West Yorkshire Police and the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
“As the review is on-going it would be inappropriate to make any comment at this time. The family and other interested parties are being kept informed of developments.”