In anticipation of an up-coming Blog Posting we thought it would be extremely beneficial to our readers with an interest in Operation Invicta, and the Curtis Warren car bugging case in general, to have an understanding of events leading up to "Invicta" and events subsequent to it, so we offer a "time line." (below)
Much criticism has been levelled (notably in the State Media) against the actions of the three Police Officers involved with the Warren/bugging case. The spotlight has been turned on full glare in their direction. We offer the view that while the spotlight is focussed on the Police Officers it leaves The Law Officers in the shadows and the Law Officers might have a lot more to answer for than the cops.
As regular readers will be aware, the cops have faced a criminal investigation, AND a disciplinary investigation for their part in the "car bugging incident" and have been cleared by both. But what of the Law Officers who advise the police? Have they come under ANY kind of scrutiny at all let alone a criminal or disciplinary investigation?
We invite our readers (as we have) to turn the spotlight into the shadows. The rights, and wrongs, of the cops have been well aired and discussed but what about the rights, and wrongs, of the Law Officers? While the discredited and disgraced State Media have set the agenda of "cop bashing" (in our opinion) we do what we always do and that is to "dig," ask the right people the right questions and most importantly follow the evidence.
We encourage our readers to think for themselves, don't be blinded by what you see/hear in the disgraced State Media, ask yourselves why you hardly ever see/hear the Law Officers being interviewed on the State Media? Ask yourselves who are the Law Officers accountable to? When have the Law Officers EVER been investigated?
Could it be that while the State Media keep your minds occupied on the police and politicians that the real power in Jersey (and unaccountable) Law Officers go about their (your) business unnoticed and untouched?
The Police receive intelligence that Curtis Warren, a dangerous criminal of international standing, is about to be released from prison in Holland and plans to travel to Jersey. It is believed that he intends to establish a base in Jersey for criminal operations. Warren has a reputation for “taking over” territory from rival criminals. There are reports that he plans to “take Jersey.” He is reputed to have considerable personal wealth which has been concealed from law enforcement authorities. He has previously appeared in the Sunday Times “Rich List.” He also has a reputation for bribing and corrupting members of police forces, lawyers, prison officers and other public officials.
Jersey Police Officers under the leadership of David Minty are successful in maintaining surveillance of Warren and associates. This is no small achievement given that Warren is very surveillance-aware and displays considerable tradecraft. Comparable operations against Warren in the UK and elsewhere are reported to have run for months or even years without resulting in arrests or charges. A small team of officers under David Minty are working up to 20 hours a day. The team includes Louis Beghin and Lawrence Courtness.
Intelligence indicates that an associate of Warren intends to take a vehicle from France to Holland and return with a drugs shipment. Minty applies to the Chief Officer for the vehicle to be fitted with a tracking and audio device. The Chief Officer agrees that the application is justified on operational grounds but neither he nor Minty are experts on the law relating to such operations in European jurisdictions. The Chief Officer supports the application subject to it being deemed to be lawful by the Attorney General.
Events begin to move quickly and so an arrangement is established whereby Minty and his team take advice directly from the Law Officers Department. One of the Advocates designated to assist the police with the legal aspects of what is proposed is Advocate Matthew Jowitt. Complications arise regarding the consent for the audio device to be used in France and other jurisdictions. According to Court Records a discussion took place regarding the legalities of what was proposed. This discussion involved Beghin, another officer (now retired) and Advocate Jowitt. The records indicate that Jowitt told Beghin that a Jersey Court would be unlikely to exclude the evidence of an audio device in the vehicle whether permission had been obtained from other jurisdictions or not. It is reported that Jowitt said “If it was me I would go ahead and do it but don’t quote me on that.” Records of subsequent evidence indicate that officers took it that they were to install the audio device before the opportunity was lost. Legal experts could then consider at greater length whether the product of the audio could be used as evidence or not. If they did not install the device then there would be no opportunity to consider the matter one way or the other.
Subsequently Beghin, Courtness and another officer went to France and installed a tracking device and an audio device in a hire car to be used by an associate of Warren. The Hire Company was aware of the police activity and had given their consent.
A few days later Warren and his team are arrested. The Jersey Law Officers Department, having considered the matter in more detail, determine that the evidence from the Audio Device can be put to a Court. At a subsequent “Trial within a Trial” a judge hears arguments from both sides and rules that the evidence can be used. Warren and his associates are subsequently convicted and sentenced to imprisonment.
Chief Officer Power, Acting Chief Officer Warcup and Senator Ian le Marquand, the Minister for Home Affairs make separate public references to the work of the officers in the investigation of Warren and praise the professionalism and dedication of those involved. Both Power and Warcup are recorded as saying that some form of formal recognition of their achievement would be justified.
Meanwhile Warren and others are pursuing an appeals process which will ultimately take the case to the Privy Council. The line taken by Advocates representing Warren is that the audio evidence was obtained illegally and should be excluded by the Court. The line taken by the Jersey Law Officers is to agree that the evidence was obtained illegally but to argue that the Court has discretion to allow it to be used. Not all of the police officers in the case are happy with the manner in which their actions are being portrayed by the Law Officers. They do not agree that what they did was “illegal” in the commonly understood sense of the word and feel sure that it is not contrary to RIPL. They also feel that the way the evidence is being presented does not place sufficient emphasis on the fact that they were receiving advice from the Law Officers and that they had given a full and accurate account of what happened at the first opportunity. However, they are not a party to the case so there is nothing they can do about it.
The verdict of the Privy Council is expected to be released soon. The Chief Officer of the States of jersey Police, Mike Bowron, issues a press release indicating that he expects the Privy Council Judgement to criticise the actions of the officers in the case. He has therefore asked Hampshire Police to conduct a full criminal and disciplinary investigation into the operation against Warren. The investigation is subsequently named “Operation Invicta.” Among those to be investigated are David Minty, Louis Beghin, Lawrence Courtness, Advocate Jowitt and former Chief Officer Graham Power who by then has retired and is living in England. Thus, officers who had expected to be commended now find that they are suspects in a criminal investigation for alleged offences of attempting to pervert the course of justice and perjury.
Hampshire Police establish an office in Jersey and commence their enquiries. All local “suspects” are “invited” to be interviewed but it is made clear that anyone who does not agree to be interviewed voluntarily will be arrested.
The position in respect of former Chief Officer Power is more complicated. He is in England and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the Jersey authorities. Any attempt to arrest him as a suspect would need an application to the relevant English Authorities which would need to supported by evidence. It is rumoured locally that such evidence is not to hand.
Hampshire Police write to former Chief Officer Power at his home address in England. They ask him if he will voluntarily submit himself to be interviewed as a criminal suspect in “Operation Invicta” Mr Power replies offering information in relation to his role in the Warren investigation but says that he has nothing further to say and declines to agree to be interviewed as a criminal suspect. He does however make it clear that if he is approached in any other capacity, such as a witness, he will re-consider. As it transpires he receives no further request to assist with “Invicta.” He is not asked to make a statement or to give evidence in respect of the Criminal Enquiry of the Disciplinary Investigation which followed.
“Suspects” in the “Invicta” criminal investigation are formally notified that, following an examination of the evidence by an independent QC in the UK, it has been determined that there is no basis for any criminal charges against any person.
December 2011/Early 2012.
Officers who have been cleared by the Criminal Enquiry but have not retired or left the Force are told by senior officers that they will be subject to disciplinary proceedings before a Tribunal presided over by a Chief Constable from the UK. Those facing disciplinary action include Minty, Beghin and Courtness. They indicate that they will strongly deny any allegation of misconduct and engage lawyers to represent their interests.
During much of 2012 a number of legal issues arise and there are also problems with the availability of the Chief Constable initially selected to preside at the hearing. The matter drags out through a series of adjournments and delays. Minty and Beghin develop symptoms of stress-related illness. Beghin is placed on sick leave. Minty is suspended in relation to an unrelated matter said to be in respect of his non-attendance at a meeting.
The full hearing finally takes place and evidence for and against the officers is heard and assessed. In his judgement the Presiding Officer makes criticism of the States of Jersey Police, the Law Officers Department, and the standard of evidence against the officers. All disciplinary charges are dismissed and the Tribunal recommends that all three officers be commended for their role in the Warren Investigation. The evidence and findings of the Tribunal are subsequently set out in a nine page typed document signed by the Presiding Officer.
Concerns are expressed locally relating to the timescale and the cost of the disciplinary action. States Members, Bloggers and interested parties ask the Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Ian le Marquand to release the written findings of the Tribunal. He refuses to do so.(timeline end)
Yet another debacle to add to the growing list under the tenure of Home Affairs Minister Senator Ian Le Marquand. We have previously reported how he has been able to spend millions of pounds of taxpayers money on fruitless disciplinary investigations and possible personal vendettas HERE.
This latest debacle goes one step further though. It started with the three Police Officers being recommended for commendations, then over a matter of years, a number of inquiries (to include criminal) and millions of £s of taxpayers money being spent, we have come full circle, with it ending with the same recommendation as it all started!
Senator Ian Le Marquand would have been receiving legal advice from the very highly paid, unelected and seemingly unaccountable Law Officers, as were the police. Yet the Law Officers have come out of all this totally unscathed or scrutinised...........How could this be?
With Senator Le Marquand's refusal to publish the findings of the disciplinary case, could it be that the Law Officers DON'T come out unscathed and DO have questions to answer? Will ANY of the island's State Media be submitting an "Access To Information" (Jersey's poor equivalent to FOI) request to obtain this document?
Will Senator Le Marquand, the Law Officers and State Media be praying this document doesn't get leaked to a Blogger like so many others have in the past?