Jailed Wakefield Pc’s name “will be cleared in new report”, say his family

Danny Major
Danny Major
Have your say

The family of a police officer convicted for assault in 2006 say they are confident his name will be cleared after a investigation into an alleged “cover-up” by his former colleagues is made public in the coming weeks.

Greater Manchester Police has now completed its investigation into an “alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice” by officers who gave evidence against Danny Major, a former constable with West Yorkshire Police jailed after being found guilty of assaulting a drunken teenager in custody.

The review, Operation Lamp, which was commissioned in January 2013, is expected to be presented to West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson later this month.

But Mr Major’s mother Bernadette said she believed her son’s name would be cleared as a result and that her family hoped it would result in criminal charges being brought against those involved.

She said: “It is bad enough what they did to Danny, but we went to West Yorkshire Police with the evidence and they carried on hiding it.

“If the report has the content we hope for, we would hope it would recommend that there will be criminal charges brought. I have monthly meetings with Greater Manchester Police and they can’t tell us a a lot, but I know he is going to be cleared.

“This report is warts and all. West Yorkshire Police are trying to protect their reputation, but Greater Manchester Police aren’t doing that and that is what we wanted.”

The review is expected to be around 500 pages long when it is presented to Mr Burns-Williamson. Greater Manchester Police employed a team of at least five officers to look into the case, with two officers looking through CCTV for several months.

Mr Major, from Wakefield, was jailed for 15 months after being found guilty of assaulting Sean Rimmington, then 18, who he had just arrested at Millgarth police station in Leeds.

A jury failed to reach a verdict in April 2006, but Major, whose father Eric served for 31 years with West Yorkshire Police, was convicted at a retrial the same year. He served four months of his 15-month sentence.

The judge at Bradford Crown Court was highly critical of the force during his trial, calling the station where the incident occurred “not fit for purpose” and the custody set-up a “shambles”.

He said Rimmington had effectively become a “non-person” for about 40 minutes because no proper custody records had been kept for that time.

Mr Major’s family have been campaigning to have his conviction overturned since he was released from jail in 2007. Challenges at the Court of Appeal and with the Criminal Cases Review Commission were unsuccessful.

A document produced last year setting out the terms of reference for the probe agreed by GMP, West Yorkshire Police and Major’s family said the evidence of three key witnesses would be reviewed.

It said: “Danny Major and his family have steadfastly maintained his innocence to this date, that key evidence and material has been withheld or disregarded and the issues of concern have not been thoroughly investigated.”

Mr Major, 36, from Wakefield, who now works in a call centre, said: “The last 11 years have been really eventful. Some really horrific things have happened to me as a result of West Yorkshire Police not doing their job properly.

“I am looking forward to having my name cleared and having a full apology from West Yorkshire Police about what they have done to me.”

He said that if cleared he would like to return to policing. He said: “Salary-wise it would nearly double what I am on at the moment. I am a university graduate earning little more than minimum wage. Policing is a job I was good at and I look forward to returning to it.”

Any decision to overturn the original conviction would be made by the Court of Appeal after being referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The CCRC would only make a referral if it believes the conviction is likely to be quashed based on new evidence or argument.

A previous review of the case by the CCRC, which concluded in March 2011, resulted in a 73-page report that did not see the case referred back to the Court of Appeal.

Cases where the person concerned is in custody take precedence, so it could be months before the CCRC are able to start a review, if Mr Major requests one.

Both Greater Manchester Police and West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner declined to comment on the investigation.