Action call in police supergrass scandal

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Two MPs today demanded that police officers face action after a ‘supergrass’ in a murder investigation was allowed to use drugs, go to pubs and EVEN visit a brothel.

Their call came after a new in-depth investigation by the YEP into the police’s handling of informer Karl Chapman.

We can reveal prolific Leeds burglar Chapman was given alcohol, allowed to take cannabis and heroin, and given money which he spent in a massage parlour as part of inducements to give evidence against criminal associates, including in the case of the killing of Wakefield pensioner Joe Smales, 85, in 1996.

The convictions of those found guilty of Mr Smales’s murder were later overturned amid concerns over how Chapman had been treated.

Now two Leeds MPs are calling for the police officers responsible to face action over one of the darkest chapters in the history of West Yorkshire Police, and for the authorities which oversaw the criminal and disciplinary enquiries to account for why they took no action.

Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton, who was told there were no problems when he raised concerns with the force about Chapman’s handling in the late 1990s, said accountability was vital to maintain public trust.

“Trust in the police is fundamental. They should be held to account. The relative age of the case should not matter, just as Chris Huhne (MP) has just been convicted for something he did 10 years ago and just as we are still pursuing accountability for the Hillsborough disaster.”

The YEP can reveal that files on at least 10 West Yorkshire officers were prepared for potential prosecution and many more dossiers for disciplinary action were drawn up after an inquiry carried out by North Yorkshire Police called Operation Douglas. Despite the scale of wrongdoing uncovered no officer faced a single charge or was disciplined over Chapman, a so-called “supergrass”.

Documents from the Criminal Cases Review Commission seen by the YEP show that Chapman, then 21, a career criminal who admitted more than 250 burglaries and robberies, was rewarded with the high life whilst held at Killingbeck and Millgarth police stations as officers gathered evidence from him during the 1990s.

They reveal that:

* He was taken to his mother’s home for a party where he smoked heroin in the back garden

* Used heroin in a cell at Millgarth

* Was taken to pubs in York, Harrogate, Halifax and Huddersfield on the pretext of being given “exercise”

* Taken to a brothel just hours after giving evidence in court where he spent £150 of £475 he was given by police

* Became involved in a relationship with a female police officer

Leeds East MP George Mudie, who, like Mr Hamilton, was similarly misled when he raised concerns, said: “When you have wrongdoing on this scale it is vital there is accountability. That hasn’t been the case and until that happens too many serious questionmarks remain over why not a single officer was charged or disciplined.

“The authorities need to reconsider what action they may be able to take.”

The police conduct surrounding the treatment of Chapman was the subject of withering criticism from the Supreme Court when the reasons for quashing the murder convictions of Paul Maxwell and Danny Mansell for the killing of Mr Smales, who died after being attacked and robbed in his Stanley home, were published in July 2011.

Although not disclosed at the time, it has now emerged that Gary Ford, a former criminal accomplice of Chapman, also had 14 years of a 25-year sentence quashed on the same grounds of gross prosecutorial misconduct.

The Supreme Court judgement said the actions of police officers amounted to the criminal offences of perverting the course of justice, perjury and misconduct in public office.

West Yorkshire Police launched a fresh investigation, supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which concluded late last year.

A spokesman for the IPCC, which has so far withheld the findings of the review following a freedom of information request, said: “This supervision of the review is now concluded and at this stage there are no matters to warrant further involvement.”

It is understood all the officers connected to the case have now left the force.

T/Chief Constable John Parkinson said : “The issues under Operation Douglas were subject to a comprehensive investigation overseen by the IPCC, and conducted by an independent Force.

“The matter was concluded and reported in full to the then Police Authority and a number of recommendations highlighted, which have been taken forward.”

And West Yorkshire Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “I am confident that West Yorkshire Police have dealt with this matter properly. At the request of the Police Authority a report was commissioned by DCC John Parkinson to review the decision making rationale and outcomes of the original investigation and assess them in line with the terms of reference agreed by the IPCC. Shortfalls were identified but importantly lessons learnt.

“New measures have been implemented across the Force that have improved the working practices of West Yorkshire Police and I am satisfied that this situation could not arise under these current force arrangements.”

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