Referral by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) of complaint against Ian Hopkins

The request was partially successful.

Dear Durham Constabulary ("Durham"),

It has been broadcast on social media that Durham has been appointed by GMCA's Deputy Director (Policing), Clare Monaghan, to investigate a complaint, alleging breach of honesty and integrity, made by Mr Peter Jackson against Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police.

Please disclose the following by way of the Act:

1. Date that Durham was appointed to investigate.

2. Terms of reference agreed between Durham and GMCA.

These ToR's assume an unusually high public interest, following analysis of the evidence given by Durham's chief constable to the Scottish Parliament concerning another investigation carried out externally by your force, involving the same two officers (see comment below Q7):

http://external.parliament.scot/parliame...

There is ample precedent to demonstrate that ToR's are disclosable under the Act. Within the past 18 months I have obtained such disclosure from the Metropolitan Police Service, Greater Manchester Police, West Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Police, IPCC (now IOPC). These disclosures are all available to view on the What Do They Know website.

3. Name of the officer in overall command of the investigation.

4. Name of the senior investigating officer.

5. Operational codename given to the investigation.

6. Estimated time to complete.

7. Budget agreed betwen Durham and GMCA.

Other journalistic enquiries have revealed that the answer to Q3 is Chief Constable Michael Barton, and the answer to Q4 is Head of Professional Standards, Superintendent Darren Ellis. But, as with any other, this request is applicant blind and disclosure is, of course, to the wider world.

As you may have deduced, this request has been drafted with a complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office and/or legal proceedings very much in mind. Given Durham's unlawful conduct over my only previous request to the force, and a subsequent data subject access request (presently the subject of a county court claim against the chief constable), it is a sensible precaution to take.

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Freedom of Information, Durham Constabulary

Your request has been received by Durham Constabulary's Information Rights
& Disclosure Unit and will be actioned accordingly. If you have any
queries please contact 0191 375 2596 Mondays to Fridays between the hours
of 7.45am and 5pm.

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This email carries a disclaimer, a copy of which may be read at
https://www.durham.police.uk/Pages/E-Mai...

Freedom of Information, Durham Constabulary

1 Attachment

Good Afternoon Mr Wilby,

Please find attached response to the below Freedom of Information request.

Thanks very much

Stephen Teasdale
Information Rights and Disclosure Supervisor
Professional Standards and Legal Services
Durham Constabulary
Email: [Durham Constabulary request email]
Telephone: 0191 375 2594 Internal 752594

Delivering excellent policing, inspiring confidence in victims and our communities, by:
Protecting Neighbourhoods
Tackling Criminals
Solving Problems
…around the Clock

‘Integrity instils confidence’

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for the very prompt, and helpful, response.

I am duly grateful.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Dear Freedom of Information,

May I please ask for clarifcation of the responses you kindly provided on 29th January, 2019. I am grateful for the invitation to approach you again, in this regard?

(i) The rank, present occupation (apart from Silver on Op Lackan) within Durham Constabulary of Mr Ellis?

(ii) The dates upon which the telephone conversations between CC Barton, Mr Ellis and the referring authority took place - and with whom at the referring authority.

(iii) The date the 'instruction' referred to in your response to the request was given and in what form (eg verbal, email, formal notice).

(iv) The date the Policy Book (or Log) was opened for Operation Lackan.

(v) The date upon which the 'meeting with the involved party' took place - and the number and ranks of the Durham officers who attended.

Finally, is your force in a postion to release the Terms of Reference for Operation Lackan as yet?

The responses will inform an article I have written surrounding the complaint against Chief Constable Hopkins.

https://neilwilby.com/2019/02/02/chief-c...

Thank you,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Dear Freedom of Information,

May I please have a response to my post on the What Do They Know website on 9th February, 2019?

Question (i) has decayed. Mr Ellis, it is now known, is a civilian investigator.

Question (v) has also mostly decayed. Mr Ellis has authorised release to me of email correspondence between the interested party and himself. Which is, of course, most helpful. Quite separately, I'm aware that three officers attended the meeting: A detective sergeant, a civilian investigator and a driver. Accordingly, only the rank of the driver is required.

The Terms of Reference remain the key part of the requested disclosure.

Public interest in this investigation remains high and I will be publishing a second article on Saturday. If a response could be provided by this coming Friday afternoon, that would be very helpful.

Thank you

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Dear Durham Constabulary ("Durham"),

I am writing to request an internal review of Durham Constabulary's handling of my FOI request 'Referral by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) of complaint against Ian Hopkins'.

1. No response has been received to my request for information dated 9th February, 2019. This places Durham in breach of sections 10 and 17 of the Act (see weblinks below).

Section 10: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/200...

Section 17: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/200...

2. No response has been received to my communication dated 27th February, 2019 which, helpfuly, reduced even further the burden of what is a very simple, straightforward request.

3. Taken together, paras 1. and 2 above. clearly place Durham's Head of Information Rights and Disclosure in breach of the College of Policing's Code of Ethics (neglect of duty, disrespect/discourtesy). The reviewer is invited to refer those prima facie breaches to the professional standards department for resolution. See below weblink:

https://www.college.police.uk/What-we-do...

4. Taken together, paras 1 and 2 above. also engage breaches of the College of Policing's Authorised Professional Practice. I have provided a weblink below to assist the reviewer.

https://www.app.college.police.uk/app-co...

5. Mindful of what is set out in paras 1. to 4. above, and taking into account Durham's grotesquely unlawful approach to the only other information request this applicant has made to your police force, a district judge may well be persuaded that Durham is deliberately concealing the information and, thus, engaging section 77 of the act. For the benefit of the reviewer a weblink is provided below.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/200...

6. The reviewer might also wish to note that a section 77 complaint is also being pursued by me, in similar circumstances, against the Police Federation of England and Wales. See below weblink:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

7. This internal review request, as the reader may have already deduced, has been prepared with such proceedings very much in contemplation against Durham. It is, indeed, a grim day when a law enforcement agency treats Parliament with such open contempt.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Web: neilwilby.com
Twitter: @Neil_Wilby

Freedom of Information, Durham Constabulary

Good Morning Mr Wilby,

Can I firstly apologise for the delay in replying to your 2nd email, I will endeavour to get a response to you as soon as possible.

With reference to your email of the 11/3/2019 - All inference to staff working dishonestly and unethically are vehemently denied.

Thanks very much

Stephen Teasdale
Information Rights and Disclosure Supervisor
Professional Standards and Legal Services
Durham Constabulary
Email: [email address]
Telephone: 0191 375 2594 Internal 752594

Delivering excellent policing, inspiring confidence in victims and our communities, by:
Protecting Neighbourhoods
Tackling Criminals
Solving Problems
…around the Clock

‘Integrity instils confidence’

show quoted sections

Dear Stephen

Thank you for the belated acknowledgement of the communications to you dated 9th and 27th February, 2019. I am grateful.

However, an apology cannot be accepted until it is accompanied by a viable explananation for the delay of over one month. So far, Durham Constabulary is silent in that regard.

As previously pointed out, there are prima facie breaches of the Act, the College of Police's Code of Ethics and Authorised Professional Practice. They are very clearly set out in the internal review request, referenced with weblinks, and, as such, unarguable.

The fact that you seek to continue to deny those breaches could well, of itself, be argued as dishonest - and I am reminded, in this regard, of the troubling conduct of Durham throughout the only other information request I have made to your police force (see below weblink). As such, your chief constable is sailing dangerously close to the launching of a misfeasance claim against him.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

Again, I invite you to pass the details of the ethical code breaches to your force's Professional Standards Department in for resolution. Failing which, I may well refer the matter to the Independent Office of Police Conduct.

Might I also, most respectfully, suggest that you pass this matter over to an independent reviewer, as required by APP and recommended under section 45 of the Act and in the Information Commissioner's Guidance on internal reviews. In the present circumstances, the attention of an experienced information rights lawyer (and/or litigation lawyer) might be prescriptive:

APP (Section 2.7.1): https://www.app.college.police.uk/app-co...

Section 45 of the Act: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/200...

ICO Guidance: https://ico.org.uk/media/1624144/section...

As you might expect, each word in this communication has been carefully chosen, and appropriately referenced, as it is seems likely, to me at least, that at some future point they will be considered by a trial judge.

Kind regards,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Dear Stephen,

Given all that is gone before, it is exceptioanally disappointing that you have not even acknowledged, let alone responded to, my communication dated 12th March 2019.

More crucially, disclosure of the requested information has not been made by your force. The working hypothesis is that it is being deliberately withheld by senior officers within Durham Constabulary to prevent further reputational damge.

Accordingly, I will reflect over the weekend as to whether a report to the Information Commissioner, by way of section 77 of the Act, would be an appropriate next step:

https://www.cfoi.org.uk/2010/01/time-lim...

Kind regards

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Dear Durham Constabulary ("Durham"),

I refer to my communications dated 12th and 15th March, 2019. Neither of which have had the courtesy of acknowledgement, let alone substantive response.

In the circumstances, and having carefully considered the conduct of Durham Constabulary, both within the instant request, and the only other one made to your force, in October 2016, it could, very arguably, meet the threshold at section 77 of the Act. I am mindful that this is a summary only offence and early notification to the statutory regulator is essential to allow the necessary time to conduct a robust, thorough investigation and bring criminal proceedings, if appropriate.

Accordingly, I am preparing submissions to the Criminal Investigation team at the Information Commissioner's Office ("ICO") on the single ground that the Durham chief constable, or his delegate(s), is (are) deliberately setting out to, in the words of the Act, "conceal any record held by the public authority, with the intention of preventing the disclosure by that authority of all, or any part, of the information to the communication of which the applicant would have been entitled."

The ICO will, doubtless, be in touch with the chief constable in due course regarding the section 77 complaint.

Quite separately, my own solicitors are to be instructed to seek opinion of counsel, on the merits of a claim against the chief constable on the grounds of misfeasance. Durham should regard themselves on notice of costs in this regard. Particularly, as in previous correspondence Mr Teasdale was strongly urged to bring the matter to the attention of both an information rights lawyer and a litigation lawyer.

On any independent view the conduct of Durham is, once again, utterly deplorable and this will form the foundation of another searching article on the lines of this one, published recently, concerning a related matter:

https://neilwilby.com/2019/03/15/barton-...

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Freedom of Information, Durham Constabulary

1 Attachment

Good Morning Neil,

Please find attached response to your Freedom of Information request.

Can I again apologise for the delay in replying to you, this was due to staff availability and the need to clarify information.

Thanks very much

Stephen Teasdale
Information Rights and Disclosure Supervisor
Professional Standards and Legal Services
Durham Constabulary
Email: [email address]
Telephone: 0191 375 2594 Internal 752594

Delivering excellent policing, inspiring confidence in victims and our communities, by:
Protecting Neighbourhoods
Tackling Criminals
Solving Problems
…around the Clock

‘Integrity instils confidence’

show quoted sections

Dear Durham Constabulary ("Durham")

Thank you for the belated response, the explanation for the delay, and for the helpful disclosures now made. The apology of Mr Teasdale is, accordingly, accepted and we move on.

I am, however, writing mainly to request a second internal review of Durham Constabulary's handling of this FOI request. The first internal review request has, of course, now more or less decayed.

Accordingly, these are the residual grounds for complaint:
(For ease of response, I have adopted the numbering used in Mr Teasdale's finalisation).

Question 2:
(a)The reviewer is invited to contemplate the efficacy of the searches undertaken by the disclosure officer, Mr Teasdale, in order to satisfy the requirements of the Act. Given my vocation as a journalist, and one with a widely recognised, and extensive, knowledge of policing matters, it is inconceivable that the Silver Commander of a high prof ile investigation, into alleged misconduct of a chief constable, has made telephone calls to the statutory officer representing the Appropriate Authority and not recorded them in any of his pocket book, day book, policy book, digital calendar, or diary. It would, very arguably, be a serious neglect of his duty not to do so. Whether or not that is proven, it certainly impacts on his credibility as an civilian investigator. The relevance of which unfolds later in this internal review request.

(b) Further, and in any event, the requested information should be available via telephone records. Either his own mobile device, his telephone at his desk, or his home telephone if he is authorised to carry out police duties from that location (not unusual for civilian officers in policing organisations).

Question 4:
(a) In your response dated 29th January, 2019 Durham stated that the operational codename 'Lackan' was allocated for 'administrative purposes'. This was a unique situation in my own experience - and I have reported on, and/or analysed, many, many named police operations.

(b) Is the name on the policy book still Lackan, or has another codename been adopted for the purposes of the investigation?

Question 5:
(a) The date of the meeting with the involved party has not been disclosed. The reviewer is invited to remedy that defect.

(b) Also, earlier this afternoon, I spoke by telephone with the involved party whom the three Durham officers visited. His immediate, unprompted recollection of the reason for the driver attending his home is clear and unequivocal: It was so that Mr Ellis, and the sergeant accompanying him, 'could be fresh for their meeting'. It was not mentioned at any stage that the driver was there for any other reason.

(c) For the avoidance of doubt, the integrity of the involved party is unchallenged and unimpeachable, whereas, by complete contrast, in my short experience of Darren Ellis he is given to fanciful assertions and false promises, at an alarming frequency. That is very well evidenced in his correspondence both with the involved party (in which I am sighted at Mr Ellis's behest) and myself.

(d) What is set out above, regarding Question 2 does not assist him, in this regard, either.

(e) Further, in any event, and in my respectful submission, the proposition that a member of Durham Police Staff had police business in an obscure part of East Lancashire, on that very afternoon, can best be regarded as far-fetched. One way or another, Durham Constabulary and Darren Ellis will be put to proof over this matter, before a judge. Be that at an Information Rights Tribunal, or in County Court. Accordingly, I would urge the reviewer to attend the response to this question with particular care and take appropriate legal advice.

Summary

(a) Durham's conduct throughout the latter stages (from 9th February onwards) of this request is seriously troubling. There are clear, and repeated, breaches of both the Act and the Code of Ethics - and it now appears that the force may be prepared to lie to prevent disclosure and/or make false disclosures. The very epitomy of the 'grubby little police force' to which I frequently, and wholly justifiably, refer in my articles and via social media.

(b) Lessons have not been learned from our only other interaction. Which resulted in an adverse finding for your force by the Information Commissioner and the issue, by me, of county court proceedings against your chief constable. The latter are still extant, only because of a hopelessly misconceived defence, grotesquely and recklessly funded from the public purse - and not his own £134,400 pa salary.

(c) It seems to me, at least, that we are headed down an identical path. If that is how Mr Barton chooses to do business, then so be it.

(d) Finally, the matter of a Section 77 complaint to the Commissioner is reserved.

A full history of this FOI request, and all correspondence, is available on the Internet at this weblink: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Freedom of Information, Durham Constabulary

Good morning Mr Wilby,

I acknowledge receipt of the request for Internal Review as shown below.

Kind regards
Dr A Hattersley
Information Rights and Disclosure Unit
Professional Standards and Legal Services Dept,
Durham Constabulary

“Delivering excellent policing, inspiring confidence in victims and our communities, by:
Protecting Neighbourhoods
Tackling Criminals
Solving Problems …Around the clock” ‘Integrity instils confidence’

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Dear Freedom of Information,

This article published yesterday may assist the reviewer with background to the request and the issues that I have raised within it concerning disclosure failings.

http://neilwilby.com/2019/04/06/second-i...

This is an extract that fellow What Do They Know users and readers may find particularly interesting:

"To Mr Jackson's obvious dismay, Mr Ellis is said to be conducting the investigation 'with his fingers in his ears' whilst acting in an antagonistic manner towards highly informed and experienced witnesses. Conversely, and perversely, there appears to be excessive contact between Ellis and Mrs Monaghan. More alarmingly, Durham Constabulary appear to be willing tobreak the law to conceal the extent of it (read more here)." 

Yours sincerely,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil _Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Freedom of Information, Durham Constabulary

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Wilby,

Please find attached the response to your internal review request.

Yours sincerely,
Durham Constabulary

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