There’s another new police team investigating the source of Bexley council’s obscene blog. The previous investigating officers are no longer with Bexleyheath police. How law enforcement can be improved by such rapid turnover is unknown, probably it’s impossible. However the good news is that the new team has proved far more approachable and forthcoming than any that have gone before; the bad news is that the first investigatory team has almost certainly screwed things up big time.
So how do I judge the new crew to be more forthcoming? Easy. Elwyn Bryant and I were invited to a meeting and almost immediately councillor Peter Craske was named as the man arrested for misconduct in public office and the obscene blog suspect. When Elwyn and I expressed surprise and said we had until then been subjected to so much secrecy that we had not even been told it was a man arrested, the new team was incredulous. The 18 months to get to the current stage was unprecedented and the aim was to “wrap things up by Christmas”.
For the first time we learned that the original IP address trace led directly to councillor Craske’s house. The obscene blog was set up on a device connected to Craske’s telephone line. It was agreed that the circumstantial evidence against him is overwhelming.
The first of his computers to be forensically examined proved to be clean. The year wasted doing nothing was a golden opportunity to buy a new one or even replace a hard drive. The month between applying to magistrates for a search warrant and executing it might not have helped justice take its course either.
Currently a second device is being forensically examined. “If that proves to be clean there will be nowhere else to go”. “What about the recent obscene messages that came from a Parsons Brinckerhoff computer?” I asked. The new team knew nothing about them. Contrary to assurances by the previous investigating officers, that crime had not been linked to the old one. Conspiracy or cock-up? Who knows; but I have provided the new team with the facts and it agrees they could change the outcome should the second computer be clean. But it’s another six weeks lost with its consequential dilution of evidence through the incompetence that would appear to be the norm at Bexleyheath police station.
“Who released Craske from Bail?” Elwyn wanted to know. The answer was steeped in police jargon however a few generic questions revealed the only possible source. The order had come from the very top. Maybe my speculation wasn’t too wide of the mark. Earlier on the excuses given for the unwarranted delays included “too much red tape” and “political interference”. Maybe it was a reference to the interest shown by MPs Teresa Pearce and James Brokenshire but that wasn’t how it sounded.
My point about Craske being welcomed back into the council by leader Teresa O’Neill after being given some assurance that the case against him would be dropped and the risk of further embarrassment was low was met with silence but not entirely straight faces.
If the police in Bexley want to change their reputation for dishonesty and curtail the speculation that secrecy encourages they might consider adopting the attitude of their new team. If it had been given unfettered discretion, Craske may have been charged and found guilty by this time last year. Instead Bexley police and Bexley council were busy pinning false harassment charges on blogger Olly Cromwell. (John Kerlen.)
The Timeline will be updated.