UK: Officers accused of framing Cardiff 3 fail in attempt to sue police


A group of police officers have failed in their bid to sue Cardiff police for false imprisonment, malfeasance in public office and malicious prosecution after they were accused of framing the 'Cardiff Three' in a trial that eventually collapsed.

In 1990 three men - the Cardiff Three - were imprisoned for the murder of Lynette White but their convictions were quashed on appeal in 1992. In 2000 the case was reopened: Jeffrey Gafoor confessed to the crime and was subsequently imprisoned.

Numerous police officers involved in the original investigation were subsequently arrested and tried on various charges, but the prosecution's case collapsed for a number of reasons - for example, the intentional destruction of evidence by South Wales Police.

15 police officers subsequently attempted to sue the force for the case against them, an attempt which has now failed. Justice Wyn Williams ruled that:

"For the reasons which I have provided in Section 7 all the claims for misfeasance in public office fail and they are dismissed.

Mrs Coliandris and Mr Hicks succeed in their claim that they were the victims of false imprisonment. It remains to be seen whether their claim is, nonetheless, barred by limitation. That will be determined at a future hearing (when quantum will also be assessed, if necessary) unless their claims are settled. The remaining Claimants fail in their claims for false imprisonment and those claims are dismissed.

Mr Daniels, Mr Gillard, Mr Page and Mr Hicks fail in their claims for malicious prosecution and their claims are dismissed.

Mrs Coliandris fails in her claim that that her rights under Article 8 ECHR have been infringed. Her claim under section 7 Human Rights Act 1998 is dismissed. I refuse to permit Mr Morgan to amend his pleadings to allege a breach of his rights under Article 8 of ECHR since, on the merits, his claim would be indistinguishable from that of Mrs Coliandris and it would be bound to fail."


See the judgment: Mouncher & Ors v The Chief Constable of South Wales Police ([2016] EWHC 1367 (QB), pdf)

Press coverage: Former South Wales Police detectives cleared of Lynette White corruption lose legal bid to sue the force (WalesOnline, link): "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."

Detailed background: What price justice? The story of the Cardiff 3 (The Justice Gap, link): "What Price Justice? Convicting three men of murder in 1990… about £10m. Bringing the officers who caused three innocent men to be convicted of that murder to trial in 2011… about £30m. Causing their trial to collapse? Priceless.

On Thursday 1st December 2011, nearly 24 years after Lynette White was brutally stabbed to death by Jeffrey Gafoor, the trial of the former police officers for the corruption that led to the convictions of three innocent men known as ‘The Cardiff Three’ collapsed due to prosecution error, writes Charlie Fox. The case was the most complicated, lengthiest and is expected to be the most expensive of its kind in modern legal history.

This has been the matryoshka doll of cases. At its heart lies the truth, invisible beneath layer upon layer of cocked-up investigations and lengthy court cases. Now the outer layer is superglued shut, the truth lost forever.

In order to understand the importance of the trial of these policemen collapsing, it is vital to understand the investigation which sparked it all."

 

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