Last Wednesday the postman delivered the Metropolitan Police’s horribly overdue response to my Subject Access Request (SAR). By the most generous estimate I have been waiting for four months longer than the statutory 40 calendar days but I expect redacting everything that might shed light on the dishonesty and political interference that characterised the Craske affair will have needed careful checking. Inevitably the 40 pages of double sided A4 (much of it taken up by clear white space) does not reveal anything fundamentally new but it is interesting nevertheless.
In my opinion, the former Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer initially believed it was his duty to close down the investigation into the obscene blog as quickly as possible and the SAR shows him to be ably supported by Detective Chief Inspector Alison Funnell who preferred to see if she could pin a charge of harassment on me instead.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission subsequently ruled that she had no grounds to do so and even if she had, what she did broke all the procedural rules. Not surprising given the same officer was criticised for contaminating evidence at the Stephen Lawrence murder trial in November 2011, just a few months after trying to frame me for quoting another local blog. (The infamous Pitchforks and Flaming Torches comment by Hugh Neal over at the Maggott Sandwich.)
The first Bexleyheath police officer to upset the plan to get the criminal off the hook as soon as possible was Detective Chief Inspector Pryde who on 23rd September 2011, a month after Dave Stringer announced there was nothing that could be done, said “ I cannot find anything that categorically shows we cannot trace who set up the site”. I bet he was popular!
On 13th November 2011 it is noted that the case had been reopened after DCI Pryde successfully traced the IP address from which the obscene blog originated. Three days later the file says that Deputy Commander Darren Williams had written to me to say the case had been “reopened” which is a bit misleading because the only letter Supt. Williams sent to me said the case was to be “reviewed” and sent in September. Dave Stringer expresses his content at the time that I am not to be told any more.
The following February the investigating officer is still claiming I harassed Bexley councillors in March 2011 even though the CPS had ruled by then that I had not (confirmed by the IPCC a month later) and he goes on to suggest (on 25th February 2012) “the victims in this case are advised of the decision not to proceed further in this case”. That's three months after they had identified the blog source to be councillor Craske’s phone line, Bexley police are still wanting to close things down.
By April 2012 CS Dave Stringer had left for pastures new and his replacement, CS Victor Olisa, came on the scene and the case went to the Crown Prosecution Service before the month was out. Coincidence? I don’t know, but something dramatic must have caused a big change of direction. Olisa got rid of all the officers (transfers and a retirement) who’d been on the Craske investigation too. The following month (May 2012) the police applied for a search warrant.
My guess is that Victor Olisa, being unaware of the corruption endemic in Bexley council’s leadership and the police tradition of ignoring it, simply got on with the job he was trained to do and was unprepared for the political flak that ensued. When I eventually asked him what had been going on during the six months when Peter Craske’s IP address was being handled as if it was a very hot potato nobody dare touch he told me I was being investigated for hacking into councillor Craske’s internet connection.
I didn’t believe him then and I certainly don’t believe him now. A Subject Access Request is supposed to include every reference to the SAR applicant and there is absolutely nothing in mine to suggest that I was ever a suspect.
There are no entries at all in the SAR file for December 2011 or January 2012 and the only entries for February, March and April are notes about the update phone calls from the police to me and Elwyn Bryant. Unlike the preceding months there is absolutely nothing that refers to progress (or not) with the investigation. I am more sure than ever that having traced the crime to Craske’s IP address the police under Stringer did absolutely nothing apart from consider whether they could possibly get away with telling the two victims that the investigation was over.
In February 2011 Stringer (knowing where the obscene blog came from) told me and my MP many times that I should trust him. Fewer than three weeks later there were plans to tell me he could do no more.
Maybe CS Olisa felt he had no alternative but he almost certainly lied to me, to Elwyn and to my MP Teresa Pearce on 1st March 2013 when he said the police were investigating me for stitching councillor Craske up. The barely possible alternative is that the SAR itself is redacted to the point of dishonesty. Either way a complaint must go in naming Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa.
You can imagine what the council leader thought about a senior councillor being arraigned before a judge and I suspect I know what she would do about it. Olisa got pretty upset, enraged more like, at my suggestion that he had been told to lay off Craske by his political masters but Elwyn and I had already been told several months earlier of the political interference that had stymied the case throughout.
I doubt very much that Olisa was a willing participant in Bexley’s corrupt practices but it seems to me he tried to cover them up. Maybe one day Bexley’s senior police officers will recognise that protecting Bexley council is not worth the career damage. Assuming of course that there is anyone left in the Metropolitan Police who could give a damn about corruption; and from what I hear of the Daniel Morgan axe murder case from my daughter who has been in and out of the Home Office pursuing @justice4daniel (Twitter again!) such people may be in very short supply.