Crown Office refuses to investigate Police Scotland after spy scandal reveals cops hunted journalist’s sources instead of Emma Caldwell killer 12 Jun 2016
PROSECUTORS last week wrote to one of the former officers targeted to insist the force had not broken the law when they went after our journalists’ sources without authority.
intrusion into a person’s privacy may be unlawful by virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998.”
And in his damning ruling on Police Scotland’s molehunt, the Commissioner, Sir Stanley Burnton said: “They [Police Scotland] failed to adequately satisfy the requirements of necessity or proportionality or give due consideration to Article 8 or 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”But, according to the Crown, they were still not acting illegally.
In a letter to Gerry Gallacher, a former detective whose phone and emails were targeted, the Crown last week claimed: “Whereas the interception of communications other than in accordance with RIPA is a crime, there is no equivalent statutory provision in relation to the collection of communications data.“As a result, there is no specific statutory crime which could have been committed.”In his complaint to Police Scotland, Gallacher also claimed there had been attempts to bully officers, who had been overruled after warning the molehunt needed judicial authority.
He also questioned evidence given by senior officers to Holyrood’s justice committee, who had also launched an investigation into the scandal.We told last month how acting deputy chief constable Ruaraidh Nicolson lied to the committee when he told MSPs there had been no specific warnings about the applications to seize call data linked to the Sunday Mail reports.But in the Crown’s letter, prosecutor Stephen McGowan claimed that, even if true, this would not have been a crime either.He said: “Again, I have come to the conclusion that if what you allege was confirmed by an investigation, it couldn’t amount to criminal conduct.” As a result, I will not instruct a criminal investigation into those matters either.”
Senior officers mounted the investigation to find our sources in April 2015, days after we revealed a forgotten suspect in the Emma
Caldwell murder investigation exactly 10 years before.They did not reopen the murder inquiry for another seven weeks but instead immediately ordered call data and emails to be collected from two serving and two former officers in a bid to find
They ignored repeated warnings from specialist officers, trained in the legislation, that they needed permission of a judge.The Investigatory Powers Tribunal will hear complaints from the men targeted in July but they had been told no decision on their complaints to Police Scotland and the Crown would be taken until after that hearing.The men had not rushed to deliver supporting statements and evidence to Police Scotland or the Crown because they believed no decision was imminent.Yesterday, Gallacher said: “The Crown Office decision is regrettable but, sadly, given what has gone before, not surprising.“It has been taken before the tribunal has even heard our cases.“We were told that nothing could be decided about the investigation of alleged criminality until after that hearing and it’s difficult to understand what has changed.
“There are many questions about this decision, not least the distinction between intercepting communications and interepting communications data.” It seems the first might be a crime but the second is definitely not.
“So the Crown must be satisfied the police only looked at data, numbers called and email addresses.” They did not look at the contents of a single email?”McGowan is also head of the Crown’s Cold Case Unit, in charge of the new investigation into Emma Caldwell’s murder, launched more than a year ago after we revealed the forgotten suspect.We told how the man had been quizzed six times by police before finally saying that he knew Emma and had taken her to the woods where she was found dead.After directing officers to the spot next to an isolated forest track,
40 minutes from Glasgow, he was never spoken to again.The new inquiry is ongoing but, it is understood, senior officers in the original inquiry have not been spoken to.
Sources claim the inquiry team were convinced that four Turks were guilty and refused to investigate the other suspect.Nicolson was in charge of Strathclyde CID at the time.Willie Johnston, a detective superintendent, was in charge of the murder inquiry and Colin Field, a detective chief superintendent, and John Cuddihy, a detective superintendent, led a huge surveillance operation that ran in tandem targeting the Turks.John Mitchell, now director of investigations for the Police
Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC), took over the
murder probe from Johnston and was in charge when the Turks, later cleared, were arrested.
The Crown Office said: “We’ve concluded there is no reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.”Police Scotland said: “We are aware of the Crown Office’s position.“We remain committed to re-investigating the murder of Emma Caldwell.”