Supergrass files: ‘Shocking wrongdoing’ – but every officer was let off hook

Karl Chapman
Karl Chapman
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NOT a single police officer was prosecuted or disciplined for the serious misconduct surrounding supergrass Karl Chapman despite an investigation which prepared a series of prosecution files and served a raft of disciplinary notices.

Documents seen by the Yorkshire Post reveal the senior North Yorkshire detective who ran the inquiry was shocked by the scale of wrongdoing and was liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over “prima facie evidence” of potential crimes committed by West Yorkshire officers.

His concerns chimed with those of the Supreme Court judgment, published in 2011, which expressed incredulity at the police conduct and shock that no-one had been held accountable.

Det Chief Supt Peter McKay also served notices of potential disciplinary action on numerous officers but ultimately was only asked – by West Yorkshire Police – to develop full cases against four constables and one sergeant.

In the event, none of those cases resulted in action being taken.

The disciplinary dossier prepared by Operation Douglas for the five officers reveals files were also submitted to the CPS for each of them, plus an undisclosed number on other serving and retired officers. Information from other documents shows the number of CPS files ran to double figures.

The file said: “The offences were encompassed in allegations of Misconduct in a Public Office.”

The decision not to bring any charges against any officers appears to have been made in 2005. The CPS has declined to provide any further explanation beyond there being “insufficient evidence”.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission report detailing the police misconduct at one point notes the CPS “in their decisions not to institute any prosecutions... have chosen not to rely on Karl Chapman as a witness of truth”.

However, evidence gathered by Operation Douglas, and seen by the Yorkshire Post, included a series of formal witness statements from Chapman’s junior custody officers detailing trips to the pub, Chapman’s access to cash to buy his own rounds, alcohol being drunk to excess in the custody area and recollections of Chapman having access to heroin while in Millgarth police station.

The evidence also included original informant payment and custody records which were clearly at odds with the truth. Original operational orders detailing how Chapman was to be treated – which were subsequently ignored – were also recovered.

In terms of disciplinary action, West Yorkshire Police were in control. North Yorkshire Police compiled the evidence but in the absence of independent management by the former Police Complaints Authority, which had declined the role, it was up to West Yorkshire to decide what action to take.

The disciplinary file prepared for the five officers reveals that West Yorkshire’s professional standards department reviewed all the misconduct notices served on officers and on 29 June 2006 notified North Yorkshire Police which officers and allegations were to go forward for potential disciplinary action.

No justification for the relatively small number of officers considered for disciplinary action has been provided by West Yorkshire Police. The force has not confirmed if any hearings even went ahead.

The officer facing most disciplinary charges was Dc John Daniels, who had been Chapman’s main handler for the best part of five years.

In the file prepared by Mr McKay, Dc Daniels faced 19 separate allegations, including breaches of honesty and integrity which if proven are normally a precursor to dismissal.

The allegations included Dc Daniels giving false evidence at court, obtaining informant payments under false pretences, failure to record payments and supplying alcohol to Chapman.

The other officers faced allegations of breaches of regulations connected to the payments given to Chapman and falsely recording an ‘escape’ from custody by Chapman when he had actually been allowed his freedom, which he used to visit a female Pc he was having a relationship with.

The documents reveal that five constables responsible for Chapman’s custody while he was held at Millgarth police station to give trial evidence against an accomplice were given disciplinary waivers on what were considered relatively minor infringements, including the supply and consumption of alcohol.

Former Chief Constable Colin Cramphorn, who died in 2006, granted the waivers to help North Yorkshire Police break through a wall of silence within the ranks of the force.