Category Archives: HASC

The ‘Independent’ Review Into Operation Vincente

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We do not have the full report only Appendix A, which includes an edited version of the Key observations and Conclusions, which can be found HERE

The report concludes that the investigation into the allegations were justified. However, I’m unaware that anyone has suggested otherwise. A very serious allegation had been made and it was absolutely correct that it should be investigated and it was.

The report states that the first statement taken by South Yorkshire Police was of “poor standard” and that the second statement taken by the Metropolitan Police “lacked sufficient probing”. There is no reference made of any third statement to correct these shortcomings.

The report describes the conclusion of DCI Paul Settle (SIO) that the offence had not been made out due to issues of consent as “erroneous”.

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No mention is made in the “Key Observations and Conclusions” of the reviewer’s opinion of the CPS’s independent assessment at the time which concurred with DCI Settle’s conclusion or the subsequent opinion expressed by the DPP Alison Saunders who told the Home Affairs Select Committee on the 21/10/2015:

“From the complainants account herself, we [CPS] didn’t think there was enough on that alone for it to go ahead and there would not be sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect [for conviction]”

As the reviewer has not referred to this we have no way of knowing whether he believes that the CPS and DPP took an ‘erroneous’ view.

All we can say is that following his independent review, he came, all be it grudgingly, to exactly the same conclusion as DCI Settle, the CPS and the DPP Alison Saunders.

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Internal police politics – Who’d want to swim in that sewer?

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HASC: Report on Lord Brittan And Paul Gambaccini Investigations

The key points are that DCI Paul Settle and the DPP are commended, while Tom Watson MP and the Metropolitan Police are criticised.

Just for clarity, this report only refers to the investigation into Lord Brittan regarding the ‘Jane’ rape allegation and not other allegations that have been made against Lord Brittan.

Press Release:
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Full Report:HASC Report P03
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Was The Met’s Interview Under Caution Of Leon Brittan ‘Unlawful’?

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Keith Vaz MP: What was the decision that you took about the allegation made by the witness ‘Jane’?

.DCI Paul Settle: On the 4th September 2013, and following the advice I’d received from the Crown Prosecution Service and in conjunction with further advice from the Crown Prosecution Service regarding the police applying what’s known as ‘The Code Test’ I decided that the investigation should not proceed any further.

.My reason for that was that I concluded that any action against Lord Brittan would be grossly disproportionate and would not have a legal basis as in order to interview him, we would have to have had reasonable grounds to suspect than an evidence (sic) [offence] had been committed.
The investigation had shown that whilst an allegation had been made, the offence had not been ‘made out’ in law and, as such, those reasonable grounds had ceased.
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Vaz: So you found there was no reasonable grounds at all, and you went to the CPS.  Did you have any difficulty – because this will become an issue in relation to other witnesses – did you have any difficulty in getting advice from the CPS?
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Settle: Absolutely not.  I reviewed all the evidence we had against Lord Brittan on the 7th of June and it’s a long time since I was at detective school, and I looked at the evidence, and I thought, I’m not quite sure about this, so I sought what’s known as ‘Early Investigative Advice’ from the Crown Prosecution Service.  The report that I sent up was completely anonymised so there was no mention of Lord Brittan whatsoever in there, so we could get a completely objective, unbiased view and the report came back and that concurred with my thoughts that the offence of rape had not been ‘made out’ and that was specifically on the account that the victim, ‘Jane’, had given us.  That’s before we spoke to anybody else – which we had done – but on the victim’s account alone it was unreasonable to suspect that anybody would have known that consent was an issue.
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Vaz: So there was no reason in your view to either interview him or to cause any further investigations to take place?
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Settle: Absolutely not.  I’d made an entry basically saying that I did not feel that the arrest of Lord Brittan was a proportionate response.  The matter was over 40 years old, the offence was not clear-cut, the additional witnesses that we had traced despite it being 40-years-old did not support Lord Brittan’s presence.  Jane had only identified him from a certificate she had allegedly seen and I was not convinced the necessary points for the offence had been proved.
To understand why the question of whether, subsequent to DCI Settle being removed as head of the investigation, the Metropolitan Police’s interview of Leon Brittan under caution on 30th May 2014 may have been unlawful or not we need to first clearly understand exactly what DCI Paul Settle is saying here.
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Cutting away all of the legal and official terminology, what is being said is that; In law, and from the complainant Jane’s own statement to the police, the criminal offence of rape did not take place.
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That is a very harsh way of putting it but necessary if we’re going to follow the argument through about whether Leon Brittan’s interview was lawful or not . It looks from the available evidence that this conclusion was reached because the issue of whether the accused would have known that Jane had not given consent was not demonstrated from her statement.
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It is not just DCI Paul Settle that reached the conclusion that from Jane’s statement to the police, no crime could be shown to have taken place. DCI Settle sent an anonymised account of the evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for ‘Early Investigative Advice’ and the CPS agreed with his view. Furthermore, the DPP Alison Saunders using the same legal and official terminology supported that position at the HASC when she stated;
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From the complainants account herself, we [CPS] didn’t think there was enough on that alone for it to go ahead and there would not be sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect [for conviction]
This issue has become clouded in the public perception because, according to DCI Settle, the account that Jane has given to the media differs from the two statements that she gave, first to South Yorkshire Police and then to the Metropolitan Police (MPS).
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On Saturday 17th May 2014 Exaro News published a version of Jane’s account in 5 Parts. The first part of that account can be found HERE. In this account there are a few points at which any objective reader would conclude that consent was an issue. Two days later, on Monday 19th May , it appears that DCI Paul Settle was removed from the investigation and the decision to interview Lord Brittan under police caution was taken.
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It begs the question whether whoever had taken that decision had taken the time to read Jane’s original police statements before doing so or had simply based it on the account that had been published on Exaro and subsequently in The Sunday Mirror. I say, “it begs the question” but frankly, suggesting such profound levels of incompetence and negligence by senior MPS management would be so incredible that I feel somewhat foolish even posing it.
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It may be that Jane might decide to publish the two police statements herself, suitably redacted to protect her anonymity, and we may then be in a position to judge for ourselves in what respects these statements differ from the account published by the media. Jane can do this, the authorities can not and so for the purposes of this post I’m going to assume that the two accounts differ substantively and that the conclusion reached by DCI Settle and the CPS was the correct one and that when DCI Settle states that the first hurdle of any investigation, whether a crime had actually had taken place based on the complainant’s allegation – was not passed in this case, regardless of what the Jane felt.
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This then brings us on to the explanation that DAC Steve Rodhouse gave for re-opening the investigation and interviewing Lord Brittan under caution but before we do I’d like to suggest one avenue of investigation to any journalists that are reading this which may throw more light on the events at the Empress Building on the 19th May 2014. Lord Brittan was interviewed under police caution by appointment at his solicitors on 30th May 2014. It would be extremely useful to know when the police made this appointment to interview. Was the appointment made on Monday 19th May ?
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DAC Rodhouse gave two reasons why he felt it was right to re-open the investigation and interview Lord Brittan. The first was misidentification and the second was that the allegation may have been malicious.
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On the first point, given that the CPS had concluded that no crime had taken place, what purpose was served in investigating whether it was Lord Brittan who had not raped Jane, or if Jane had misidentified him and that some other man resembling Leon Brittan had not raped her ? The identity of the person alleged to have been involved is completely irrelevant given that on the basis of Jane’s police statements no crime had taken place.
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On the second point, that the possibility that Jane’s allegation may have been malicious and that needed to be investigated, I concur but under those circumstances Lord Brittan should have been interviewed as a potential victim and not under police caution.
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The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime stipulates that a complainant must be informed of any significant action taken by the police, such as an interview or an arrest within 5 working days of the action being taken.
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1.5 You are entitled to be informed by the police of the following information and to have the reasons explained to you within5 working days of a suspect being: • arrested; • interviewed under caution; • released with no further action; • released on police bail, or if police bail conditions are changed or cancelled.
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On Friday the 30th May 2014 Lord Brittan was interviewed under caution, which means that Jane would have to have been informed of this before Friday 5th June 2014 – One month later on 7th July Exaro published ‘DPP forced Scotland Yard to quiz Leon Brittan over rape claim’HERE
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The police were well aware that Jane had a close relationship with Exaro those that took the decision to interview Leon Brittan can not claim ignorance of the consequences of their actions. It is clear from DCI Settle’s evidence to the HASC that he understood what the consequences would be. Lord Brittan’s name was then in the public domain associated with a sexual offence.
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DAC Rodhouse’s account makes absolutely no sense.
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I’m not a lawyer and I’m not appraised of what constitutes a lawful and unlawful use of the police powers to interview a person under police caution and so I’m in no position to make a judgement. However, my suspicion is that the police acted unlawfully when it interviewed Lord Brittan under police caution.

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HASC: Evidence Given By Tom Watson MP [21/10/15]

Tom Watson’s evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee, 21st October 2015. Keith Vaz, Chair, directed that the evidence should be specifically and solely related to the accusations by ‘jane’ against Lord Brittan.

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HASC: Evidence Given By DPP Alison Saunders [21/10/15]

Alison Saunders giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee 21 Oct 2015.

DPP Alison Saunders – “From the complainants account herself, we [CPS] didn’t think there was enough on that alone for it to go ahead and there would not be sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect [for conviction]”

Alison Saunders also makes clear that there was nothing in DCI Paul Settle’s original decision that was contrary to the ACPO/CPS guidance on the investigation of rape cases, which was referred to in Tom Watson’s letter to the DPP.

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HASC: Evidence Given By DAC Steve Rodhouse And DAC Patricia Gallan [21/10/15]

Patricia Gallan, Metropolitan Police, Deputy Assistant Commissioner – Specialist Crime and Operations and Steve Rodhouse, Metropolitan Police, Deputy Assistant Commissioner – Head of Crime and Operations giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee 21 Oct 2015.

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Any objective viewer of yesterday’s evidence session of the Home Affairs Select Committee session would have to conclude that the decision making of the Metropolitan Police senior management was at fault.

I personally found DAC Steve Rodhouse’s evidence particularly unconvincing and his manner shifty.

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HASC: Evidence Given By DCI Paul Settle [21/10/15]

DCI Paul Settle’s evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee, 21st October 2015. Keith Vaz, Chair, directed that the evidence should be specifically related to the accusations by ‘jane’ against Lord Brittan.

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Of importance in all of this is the reasons why DCI Paul Settle decided to close the case without interviewing Lord Brittan.

Victoria Atkins MP – Where did the evidence lead you in this case [Jane] ?

DCI Paul Settle – The evidence led me to the conclusion that on Jane’s account alone the actual points to prove for rape were not there. Therefore, despite the fact that Jane was insisting that she’d been raped, in law, she hadn’t.

Later in the HASC session;

DPP Alison Saunders – From the complainants account herself, we [CPS] didn’t think there was enough on that alone for it to go ahead and there would not be sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect [for conviction]

The CPS opinion has never been made public, but the IoS can reveal that concerns were expressed as to whether, assuming an encounter took place, “the suspect was unaware that the victim was not consenting to the sexual intercourse between them”. “On the victim’s evidence alone,” says the advice, “there is no evidence that the suspect had asked the victim for sex, that he had demanded sex, that he had forced the victim to [lie] on the bed, neither did he ask her to remove her clothing”.

Independent on Sunday

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