Lynette officers lose legal bid to sue police force.
A GROUP of former detectives whose corruption trial following a botched murder investigation became one of the most expensive in British legal history have lost a legal bid to sue their old police force.
Graham Moucher, Thomas Page, Richard Powell, John Seaford, Michael Daniels, Peter Greenwood, Paul Jennings and Paul Stephen went on trial accused of framing a group of Cardiff men over the 1988 murder of Cardiff prostitute Lynette White.
Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi and Anthony Paris spent four years behind bars before their convictions were quashed on appeal. The real killer was eventually caught a decade later.
More than PS30m of taxpayers' cash was spent on the ex-South Wales Police officers' trial before the case collapsed when key documents went missing.
The detectives in the original investigation, who had all denied any wrongdoing, later launched a legal bid to sue their old employers for a host of claims including unlawful arrest and misfeasance in public office.
Court papers showed that there were 15 claimants, including the eight former detectives who were charged, seeking to mount a legal challenge against South Wales Police.
However, High Court Judge Mr Justice Wyn Williams dismissed all the claimants' applications at a hearing at Cardiff Civil Justice Centre yesterday.
Solicitors representing the former police officers said they are "considering the possibility" of launching an appeal against the decision.
In a handed down judgement, Mr Justice Williams ruled: "The claimants' case, in summary, was that the defendant's officers committed misfeasance in public office by deliberately or recklessly acting beyond their powers in the (corruption) LW3 investigation, prosecution and trial.
"It is said that the defendant's officers prejudged the central issues of the investigation, adopting a mindset of guilt in relation to the claimants from the outset, and pursued the investigation of the claimants in a wholly disproportionate way, despite the manifest weaknesses of the available evidence, foreseeing the likelihood that their actions would injure the claimants.
"It is also said that in the course of LW3 the defendant's officers falsely imprisoned the claimants and, throughout the investigation, a number of officers acted in bad faith.
"The claimants have failed to prove these allegations.
"On the basis of the evidence as a whole I concluded that no officer of South Wales Police either deliberately or recklessly exceeded his/her powers during the course of discharging his/ her duty during the course of LW3.
"Further, and very importantly, I found that no officer of SWP acted in bad faith when discharging his/her duty during the course of LW3."
The judge added that the defendant in the civil legal proceedings was South Wales Police.
He said: "All the claims of misfeasance in public office fail and they are dismissed."
Stephen Miller, John and Ronald Actie, Yusef Abdullahi and Anthony Paris stood trial in 1990 for the murder of Ms White. Mr Miller, Mr Abdullahi and Mr Paris - known as "The Cardiff Three" - were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment but were acquitted in December 1992 when the Court of Appeal quashed their convictions after hearing evidence that they had been "fitted up" for the crime.
A new investigation was launched by the force but it was not until 2003, 11 years after the Cardiff Three were freed, that the real killer was identified.
In 2003, advances in DNA technology saw the real killer, Jeffrey Gafoor, caught. He confessed to stabbing Ms White to death more than 50 times following a row over PS30.
Eight years later, a number of officers in the case went on trial at Swansea Crown Court, accused of perverting the course of justice.
The case was eventually halted after prosecutors lost confidence in the disclosure process. This came after fears that documents had been lost. They were eventually found in a storage unit, but by that time legal proceedings had been halted.
Last year, Home Secretary Theresa May announced that a review into the trial's collapse will go ahead and look at what lessons that could be learned.
Murder victim Lynette White
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|Publication:||South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Jun 15, 2016|
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