Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chief Constable escapes jail

A police chief has been forced to return 87 computer hard drives to an expert witness.

Colin Port, Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset, had been facing contempt of court charges for delaying the return of hard drives to Jim Bates, a computer analyst whose home was searched by police last year.

The police search of Mr Bates’s home was declared illegal by the High Court in May because Mr Port’s officers had drawn up a warrant incorrectly and taken away legally privileged material.

Mr Port took legal advice about how he could avoid complying with the court order.

But on Monday night, just hours before the chief constable was due in court to answer the contempt allegation, the computer material was delivered to the offices of Mr Bates’s solicitor.

Mr Bates’s lawyers, who are to seek compensation for the illegal search of his home, said the hard copy images were contained in legal case files which were stored in his garage. They said some of the material had originally been given to him by police and prosecution authorities and dated back 10 years.

Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said Mr Bates had held all the material “in a professional capacity” and that that Mr Port’s delayed compliance with a court order was “regrettable”.

The judge added: “The conduct of the chief constable since the order was made has been of concern to us”.

Mr Bates, 68, is regarded as a pioneer of forensic computer examination and was widely used as a prosecution and defence expert witness for many years. But the Crown Prosecution Service stopped using him and in 2006 issued confidential guidance concerning him to prosecutors.

Avon & Somerset police began a fresh investigation into him last September after he was given by police a copy of the hard drive of a man charged with possessing child abuse images on computer. Mr Bates was given the material at a Bristol police station when he arrived in the capacity of assistant to another expert witness.

Police later raided his Leicestershire home and he was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to possess indecent images of children. That investigation has now been dropped.

Mr Bates has long contended that the actions against him are an attempt to discredit him because he now acts as a defence expert and is an outspoken critic of police investigations.

He is particularly critical of the conduct of Operation Ore, a nationwide inquiry into online child abuse which led to thousands of arrests, convictions and cautions.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was concerned by the paragraph in this article,

'He is particularly critical of the conduct of Operation Ore, a nationwide inquiry into online child abuse which led to thousands of arrests, convictions and cautions.'

What this paragraph fails to make clear is that Operation Ore led to the arrest, conviction, cautions and total ruination of thousands of INNOCENT men.

The UK police knew very early on that the operation was critically wrong and that credit card fraud was at the center of it all. However, this little matter did not prevent the police from deliberately arresting and charging many innocent men.

There is only one truth in anything you will ever read concerning the police. The truth is this, THE POLICE ARE THE TRUE CRIMINALS IN OUR SOCIETY, quickly followed by the politicians.

Thu Feb 02, 07:59:00 am GMT  

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