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News and Comment February 2013

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21 February (Part 2) - Bad day for Craske

News Shopper letterYesterday’s News Shopper carried two letters from Bexley residents debunking councillor Peter Craske’s nonsense about the Thames crossing situation which the newspaper published two weeks earlier.

A third letter from Bexley Labour leader councillor Chris Ball countered Craske’s political lies. The letter writers reminded us that ferries are affected by poor visibility but no one mentioned that they haven’t ever operated through the night. I wasn’t back from Newham yesterday particularly late but the Woolwich ferry was already shut. Does it ever run after 8 p.m?

It wasn’t a good day for Craske on the obscene blogging front either because the fact it was traced to councillor Peter Craske’s phone line is refusing to go away. Contrary to expectations the Crown Prosecution Service doesn’t as yet seem to be too keen on covering up police - polite version - incompetence. Ten days ago it was reported here that the CPS had told Elwyn Bryant that in their view Peter Craske should have been charged and had offered to confirm the statement in writing.

By the time that fact was posted here it was two weeks old because I would have preferred to see the letter of confirmation first, but it never arrived. What wasn’t clear was at what stage of the police’s on-off investigation the CPS had offered their charging advice or opinion.

In the absence of the promised letter Elwyn wrote to complain at a higher level within the CPS and two days ago he was rewarded with a reply. Two actually.

First he received the letter he should have had at the beginning of the month - it had spent 16 days in the first class post from Croydon - and an email from the more senior manager.

Some aspects of that email may be reasonably described as staggering and maybe I should await further developments before going live with them. The contents of the long delayed letter were low key by comparison but nevertheless provide new insights into police mischief.

A short history lesson is in order. My MP, Teresa Pearce, Elwyn Bryant and I met Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer and his Acting Deputy Tony Gowen on 10th February 2012. They told us their investigation was progressing well and they expected to soon send a case file to the CPS. A month later (15th March) Stringer announced to Ms. Pearce that the file was with the CPS. On the evening of 21st March 2012 Acting Superintendent Gowen confirmed the same to me when I briefly spoke to him outside the Civic Centre. He expected it to be returned within a week or ten days.

The CPS letter gives no confirmation of that. It says that they considered the case on the 15th of February - five days after the meeting with Dave Stringer - and they rejected it straight away. The opportunity to prosecute for the low grade offence proposed had expired six months after the crime was committed. You would think a policeman of Stringer’s rank would have known that his case papers were worthless after November 2011. One would have hoped that he would tell the MP the whole story rather than choose to mislead her.

Apparently the CPS advised that Craske should be charged with another crime. Whether that was for an entirely different criminal offence or just a new label for the original crime is left vague.

On 12th January this year Detective Chief Inspector Gary Holmes of Bexley police decided that he had insufficient evidence to send the Craske file to the CPS again. I was advised of that by telephone the very same day and DCI Holmes confirmed it during a brief encounter at the Civic Centre. The CPS however doesn’t agree. They have said “the investigation of the police is incomplete and [we] have set out an action plan for them to follow”. That, the CPS confirms, was done since Elwyn raised the issue with them. i.e. in the past two or three weeks. The police however claim their investigation is at an end - and they wonder why I decided to eventually make a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice allegation against the lot of them. But events keep overtaking me.

There is more but that will do for today. A bad day for Craske? You bet. But not good for Olisa and co. either.

Timeline updated.


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