Concern over top detective’s ‘heartfelt’ remark

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THE head of professional standards at West Yorkshire Police told the force solicitor it was his “heartfelt opinion” there wasn’t enough evidence to even consider disciplinary action over the force’s supergrass scandal.

Former det chief superintendent Mark Bradley made the remark in a covering letter accompanying a set of disciplinary files sent by the professional standards department to Mike Percival who was responsible for the final decision.

Mr Percival subsequently took just nine days to decide no action would be taken against any officers despite a long-running inquiry that had uncovered serious wrongdoing by officers handling supergrass Karl Chapman.

Mr Bradley, who has since retired and set up an anti-corruption consultancy, told the Yorkshire Post he had not intended to suggest anything inappropriate by the comment but that he had concerns about disciplinary action being taken because the inquiry had taken several years to reach its conclusions. As a result, the officers could argue an abuse of process, he said.

The identity of who wrote the letter from professional standards and who made the final decision that no disciplinary action would be taken was initially withheld by all three public bodies holding the information – West Yorkshire Police, Police Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The IPCC subsequently relented after the Yorkshire Post appealed over the initial response to a freedom of information request, arguing the public had a right to know.

Mr Bradley’s letter is referred to in a review of West Yorkshire Police’s own investigation into whether the force had been right, in 2006, not to discipline any officers after a Supreme Court judgement lambasting the level of police misconduct.

The review, carried out by Cambridgeshire deputy chief constable John Feavyour last year, supported West Yorkshire’s finding that the force had acted correctly but questioned why the letter from professional standards, sent on October 3, 2006, had used the word “heartfelt”.

Mr Feavyour highlighted the letter’s final line which said “it is my heartfelt opinion that there is insufficient evidence to consider disciplinary proceedings”.

His review went on: “I do not understand and I was surprised by reference to the term “heartfelt”. My expectation would be that the head of professional standards would provide an objective opinion based on the evidence and public interest concerned.

“I feel that the use of the word “heartfelt” on the other hand suggests some form of sympathy for the position the officers found themselves in, and actually detracts from what otherwise is a perfectly sensible conclusion to come to.”

Mr Bradley told the Yorkshire Post that he had no role in the disciplinary investigation into officer conduct which was carried out by North Yorkshire Police.

Asked about the “heartfelt opinion”, Mr Bradley said he hadn’t intended to give any inappropriate impression but was referring to his concerns about abuse of process.

He added: “It was my view, when I was sending it through (to the force solicitor), there was potential for abuse of process issues.

“Mike Percival reported back saying they couldn’t pursue it and that was the end of it as far as I was concerned.”

West Yorkshire Police said Mr Percival, who is still with the force, would not be commenting.