Tuesday, December 22, 2015

GOING, GOING, GONE !


Graham Power

If you already feel saturated by the Jersey scene, just skip this posting. If, like me, you find it rivals Dungeons and Dragons, read on.

I have been puzzling over both the fact and the timing of Graham Power's suspension and I just can't make sense of it. It is not quite keeping me awake at night, but like that final elusive word in a big crossword, is not helping me to get to sleep either.

So I have tried below to put some of my confused thoughts on paper in the hope that this would crystalise them, but I am still as puzzled as ever.

Person 737

One commentator is convinced that the suspension was brought about to stymie the imminent arrest of the well known influential islander currently identified as “737” in the documents published by the Jersey Inquiry. This does not make sense to me.

Evidence to the current inquiry suggests that Power was taking a very hands off approach to Operation Rectangle. He had almost fully handed over the running of the inquiry to his deputy, and successor designate, David Warcup and the SIO was Mick Gradwell who had replaced Lenny Harper. Both of these officers have complained about Power's reluctance to involve himself in Operation Rectangle at that stage.

So getting rid of Power would not have affected any such arrest which he was presumably not pushing for in the first place. In the event, the suspect remained on Gradwell's task list for interview under caution in the first week of December 2008, even after Power's suspension in early November. Of course, we don't know if 737 was actually interviewed, just that the paper intention was still there after Power's suspension.

Abuse of Process

An alternative suggestion is that Lenny Harper's allegedly exaggerated, and uncorrected, revelations about HDLG, along with their further amplification by the press, risked having some upcoming trials dismissed in the face of a likely plea of abuse of process by the defence lawyers.

The thinking here seems to be that the uncorrected sensationalism (murders etc.) surrounding Operation Rectangle was giving rise to (i) hostile hysteria, and (ii) a feeling that the police were “rushing to judgement” and bringing unjustifiable charges. Either or both of these being factors which could prejudice a fair trial,

Warcup and Gradwell, following legal advice, were adamant that these “revelations” had to be publicly corrected before the trials. To that end they organised a press conferencee, against Power's advice, to correct matters and incidentally rubbish much of Operation Rectangle. Power claims that he had no problem with the original script he was shown for the press conference but that what was said at the actual press conference itself flew in the face of what he had been shown.

He could therefore be presumed to be very annoyed at the outcome. But what action could he have taken? What could he have done that would require his suspension to stop him doing it?

So I'm not really convinced by that explanation either.


The Met Report

Then there is the “Met Report” in which the London Met were supposed to have severely criticised the running of Operation Rectangle and in particular the actions of Harper and Power. As I recall that “report” had not been received until after the initial drafting of the letters suspending Power, though Gradwell's own written report and Warcup's views would have been available at the time.

However, the terms of the Met inquiry precluded its use for any disciplinary purpose. Any such use would put the whole system of non-disciplinary peer inspection in jeopardy throughout the entire UK police force.

So, the Met "report" was not available when the plot was hatched and it seems to have been hastily seized on when it arrived to bolster complaints against Power.

For clarity here it should be said that this was not a final report, rather a very initial draft, that the Met subsequently said did not criticise Harper or Power. In fact it was subsequently withdrawn by a Met which was very annoyed at the use to which it had been put.

Mystery

So the mystery of Power's suspension and it's timing remains.

Clearly the politicians, and some of his own immediate subordinates, wanted rid of him. The prime movers had even organised the resignation of the then Home Affairs Minister, Wendy Kinnard, and replaced her with a more pliable alternative, Andrew Lewis, to make sure Power got ditched.

But why? He was apparently operating in a very hands off way, having turned almost everything over to his successor, David Warcup. He says himself that he would have gone quietly at that time if he has been asked politely to retire. It was only the method of his dispatch that got his back up.

The only advantage, for the administration, of suspension over retirement or dismissal, was that it kept Power on the books and limited the extent to which he could go public with any grievances. Dismissal, in any case, would have involved getting parliamentary approval and God knows what might have come out in the wash.

But it is still not clear why he had to go, and in such an apparently tight timeframe.

A Cock Up?

The only explanation that might make sense would be that 737 panicked at the thought of being brought into play by Harper and Power and instructed, somewhere along the way, that they be got rid of or neutralised.

Then Harper had retired and Power was more or less out of it, but this feedback was either not understood or resisted and the instruction maintained. So the administration had to figure out a way to get Power off the stage and ensure he was kept quiet, and suspension was the magic bullet.

Maybe I'm missing something very obvious here. If so I hope someone tells me what it is.

By the way, for all you crossword fans out there. The Jersey Inquiry's redactions relating to person 737 have now been rendered moot as his identity was publicly revealed late last month at an offshore event in London.

I have commented on Graham Power's evidence to the Jersey Inquiry here.

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