Response from Greater Manchester Police to the Times Article of Saturday 23rd June, 2018
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said:
"Today, Saturday 23rd June, 2018, The Times devoted its front page article, all of page 6 and its principle editorial on page 27 to the alleged conduct of Greater Manchester Police and its leadership. To be clear, I want to say from the outset, that public accountability, often expressed via the media, is the cornerstone of our society. However, the media and in this case, The Times also have a serious responsibility and this is the second time in 6 months the Times has written a damaging leader article about GMP and I ask where is the accountability for The Times?
"I consider the article wholly misleading and unfair to the officers and staff in Greater Manchester who day in, day out, work tirelessly to serve the people of this conurbation.
"For its central theme, this article centres on a proactive investigation led by a senior detective in April 2011. The article in particular makes reference to one officer’s conduct referring that ‘it might plausibly be called culpable neglect’
"We have been asked for comment about this investigation repeatedly, despite the suggestion that Greater Manchester Police tends to ‘close ranks’ This investigation was conducted by the then Independent Police Complaints Commission. The IPCC (now IOPC) has as its purpose to ‘oversee the police complaints system and investigate the most serious incidents and complaints involving the police.’ They are a completely independent body who hold police to account
"In this case, the IPCC thoroughly investigated this matter completely independently of GMP. They described it as one of the largest investigations they had ever conducted and it lasted over two years between 12th March 2014 and 23rd September 2016. Their conclusions were that there was no evidence of gross misconduct for any officer but that two officers’ actions could amount to misconduct which is a much lower level. As is the policy, this was referred to the Force to consider and following formal misconduct meetings and consideration of the findings, misconduct was not proven. I would point out that this directly contradicts at least the tone if not the allegations contained in the Times article. As this was an independent investigation, it is difficult for us to comment on an inquiry which others have quite properly completed independently of ourselves, nonetheless their outcome is clear.
"I have asked the IOPC to provide detail on the size and scale of their investigation in order to illustrate the extent of the independent investigation.
"The article refers to a ‘depressing instinct to close ranks when what is needed is transparency’ Indeed reference is made to other incidents within the article. Again I find this statement, whilst eye catching to the reader, is wholly ill considered, inaccurate and unfair. In the very cases referred to in the article, it is Greater Manchester Police who has acted with utmost integrity and transparency throughout by referring itself to IOPC. I struggle therefore to see how the Times can suggest that this is a tendency to ‘close ranks’
"This Force covers an area of 1,276 square km, the area has a population of 2.7m. The Force deals with over 800, 0000 incidents a year and we always aim to serve the public to the highest standards. When we fall short of these standards, we take that very seriously and to that end, where serious allegations are made we work closely with the IOPC to ensure that we are independently held to account. We are also accountable to the elected Mayor.
"It seems that The Times has seen fit to collate incidents and describe them in such a way which implies cover up, poor leadership and neglect. I find this is serving journalistic ends far more than public interest. Perhaps the most shocking in this, is the end of the editorial which refers to the appointment of the formerly investigated officer to the role of temporary head of CT Policing whilst the Force was ‘reeling from the failure to apprehend Salman Abedi before his murder of 22 concertgoers in May, despite multiple signs that he had been radicalised in Libya’
"I find this to be a deliberate attempt to discredit the Force and to do so in a cynical way with disregard for the feelings of those so deeply affected by the terrible events of last year. It is also without any detailed knowledge of the events leading up to the attack which have not yet been heard in either a coronial court or criminal process. It also, in our view, lays criticism at the door of GMP to serve an editorial purpose without any explanation of how counter terrorism operations work in this country, namely a collaboration with the intelligence community, a point journalists will know all too well and which is well explained in the David Anderson QC report.
"There have been repeated allegations of a similar nature to this article. Given the extensive independent scrutiny by the IOPC, this article leads us to a conclusion that this story is being driven for personal reasons and journalistic end rather than public interest. We also suspect the information is from the same source who repeatedly reports to different media with the same information and aim of targeting individuals within Greater Manchester Police and cynically undermining public trust."
Response from the Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime Baroness Beverley Hughes
The allegations reported today in The Times have previously been put to me as Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime.
They were taken seriously and have been examined in detail, including in the report of the IPCC’s extensive enquiry into Operation Nixon and the actions which followed. Those who claim to have further information have been asked to bring it forward and it has been made clear that we will act on any new evidence.
However, none has been forthcoming.
I would not countenance cover-up or complacency in relation to any allegations of corruption or malpractice. The Chief Constable, his senior team and I, expect the highest standards from our police and will not compromise the integrity and reputation of the vast majority of police officers and staff who are working hard to serve the people of Greater Manchester.
The article, however, goes further than commenting on Operation Nixon and infers links with a number of quite separate incidents including the Manchester Arena attack and the murders of PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone- tragic, catastrophic events for so many families including those of police officers. This is deplorable, totally unjustified and completely wrong.