Second probe into Cleveland Police’s handling of kidnap case

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A SECOND probe has been launched into a police force relating to its handling of a kidnap case.

Cleveland Police was criticised in an initial probe carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into how the force acted after a Hartlepool businessman Tony Pattison was kidnapped and held for ransom in 2004.

The force was investigated following complaints by suspect Bronson Tyers who was jailed. He was later acquitted for the offence and his solicitor, James Watson, was wrongfully arrested after being accused of trying to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Watson was recently awarded £550,000 in damages by Cleveland Police.

This week it was revealed that the force faces claims from four more people involved in the case.

The IPCC has revealed it is now investigating a series of new complaints levelled against the force by Mr Watson linked to the original case and its fall-out.

An IPCC spokesman said: “The IPCC managed an investigation into complaints against Cleveland Police in relation to a long-running police investigation into the kidnap of a businessman.

“The IPCC investigation upheld some of the complaints, particularly around basic investigative failures.

“Recommendations were made around dealing with these failures and also around internal issues within the force, including processes around the consideration of suspension of officers.

“The IPCC is now managing a further investigation into new complaints made on behalf of the original complainant.”

The damning IPCC report, which has not been made public, has been reported to have labelled Cleveland Police “flawed, inept and dishonest”.

Officers are also reported to be criticised for ignoring the advice of the IPCC to suspend the case’s investigating officer after he fell under suspicion of suppressing key evidence that would have helped Tyers’ case.

No charges were brought against Mr Watson and Mr Tyres despite a ten-month investigation.

Cleveland Police’s Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger says lessons have been learned from the report into Operation Pomeroy.

He said: “Suspension decisions are taken in the context of a national framework and the suspension of this officer was fully considered, and the decision not to suspend was taken in accordance with the policy and practices of the force and based solely upon the information and evidence presented by the investigation team.

“Lessons have been learned from this and there is a comprehensive action plan in place covering the selection and training of Senior Investigating Officers (SIOs), the use and monitoring of policy decision books, the introduction of regular reviews or long running investigations.

“It is a fact that there is insurance in place as with other public sector organisations to cover the cost of settlements such as the one paid out to Mr Watson.

“Sometimes mistakes are made, and it is up to us to apologise when we get it wrong.

“What we need to focus on is continuing to reduce crime, protect the public and serve our communities.

“I know through my feedback from community meetings that members of the public are supportive of their local police and I hope that this continues.”