TAXPAYERS are facing a huge bill for the shameful misconduct of West Yorkshire Police officers which led to convictions in serious criminal cases being quashed, it can be revealed today.
Two men have launched claims for damages after spending a total of 20 years in prison on the basis of tainted evidence procured by officers who concealed a vast array of improper inducements to a supergrass.
Both Gary Mansell, from Manchester, whose conviction for murder was overturned, and Gary Ford, from Leeds, who had the majority of his convictions for robbery and burglary quashed, have formally served civil claims on West Yorkshire Police.
It can also be revealed that Mr Mansell’s solicitor is preparing a legal challenge against the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over its decision not to prosecute any police officers for their wrong doing despite a withering Supreme Court judgement which flatly stated officers had committed crimes.
Solicitors for both men are reluctant to comment on the potential level of damages but it is understood to be at least £250,000 for Mr Ford and potentially more for Mr Mansell.
On Saturday, we reported how a prolific career criminal, Karl Chapman, who admitted to more than 250 burglaries and robberies had turned “supergrass” to give evidence against criminal associates.
In return, he lived the high life whilst in police custody, being taken to pubs, allowed to take heroin and cannabis and being given money, which on one occasion he used to visit a Leeds brothel.
Leeds MPs Fabian Hamilton and George Mudie are calling for a full investigation into the case and for the police officers responsible –and the authorities who conducted probes into what happened – to be held accountable.
Today, we can reveal that:
l Officers allowed Chapman to use heroin during a covert operation to talk to a murder suspect in Huddersfield
l Cannabis was smoked in a police car escorting Chapman back to prison
l A police officer became so drunk in Millgarth police station that Chapman put him to bed in a cell
Chapman assaulted a female police officer he was in a relationship with, but he was not arrested
Matthew Gold, the solicitor representing Mr Mansell, told the Yorkshire Evening Post that if the CPS does not explain its decision not to charge any officers it will face the threat of a judicial review.
He added that a formal claim for damages has been lodged with West Yorkshire Police. The force is due to serve its defence this month.
Mr Mansell spent 12 years in jail, including on remand, before his conviction for the murder of Wakefield pensioner Joe Smales was quashed in 2009. He was originally convicted with his brother Paul Maxwell whose conviction was also quashed before he pleaded guilty at a retrial.
Susie Labinjoh, the solicitor representing Gary Ford, confirmed that a civil claim for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office had been served on West Yorkshire Police in June last year. She has also made a formal complaint to the force about the officers’ conduct.
Mr Ford, formerly of Leeds, was originally sentenced to 25 years in prison in 1996 for a string of bogus official burglaries and robberies. He was convicted largely on the tainted evidence of Chapman, who was his accomplice, and in 2009 his sentence was reduced to 11 years.
Including his time on remand, Mr Ford spent 15 years in prison when, taking the early release scheme into account, he would otherwise have spent seven years inside. West Yorkshire Police confirmed proceedings had been issued against the force and no further comment could be made.
The YEP investigation draws on a previously undisclosed 263-page report compiled by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) which led to the murder convictions being quashed in 2009 and hundreds more documents from Operation Douglas, the £3m North Yorkshire Police inquiry whose findings informed the report.
The CCRC report details how West Yorkshire Police corrupted the prosecutions of Paul Maxwell and Danny Mansell by concealing an astonishing array of favours and cash payments given to Chapman. The contents were accepted unchallenged by the Court of Appeal when the convictions were quashed and later by the Supreme Court.