Monday, 2 April 2012
ANOTHER SUDDEN POLICE DEATH
Former police chief found deadComments
The former Chief Constable of Hampshire Police Sir John Hoddinott was discovered dead in a hotel room by a colleague today.
The retired officer was appointed in May to investigate Operation Lancet, a £7 million inquiry into alleged wrong-doing by Cleveland police officers.
A Cleveland police spokesman said that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Sir John's death, which happened in a Middlesbrough hotel.
Sir John was chief constable of Hampshire constabulary for 11 years from September 1988, retiring in September 1999.
A spokeswoman for Hampshire Police said he was a third generation Hampshire police officer as his father and grandfather both served in the force.
The Chief Constable of Hampshire Paul Kernaghan said: "Sir John's death has come as a shock to me personally and to everyone associated with Hampshire Constabulary.
"Sir John was above all a husband and father but he was also an outstanding police officer. It would be fair comment to describe him as a giant professionally.
"As Chief Constable of Hampshire and president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir John scaled all the professional heights and was recognised as the outstanding officer of his time.
"He retired in 1999 but continued his commitment to public service both as a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire and as a senior member of various government reviews.
"It says much for the man and his values that even whilst in retirement he was still ready and able to undertake work on behalf of the community.
"He will be missed. My thoughts and those of the entire force are with Lady Hoddinott and his girls."
A pupil of Barton Peveril Grammar School, Eastleigh, Hants, Sir John joined the Metropolitan Police as a cadet in 1969.
In 1981 he was appointed officer in charge of the CID at West End Central, and in June that year he became assistant chief constable (operations) with Surrey police.
He became deputy chief constable in Hampshire in September 1983.
He was president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in 1994-5.
Sir John lived at Otterbourne, near Winchester, with his wife Avril. They had two daughters.
Sir John, 56, was in Middlesbrough to hold preliminary meetings and arrived late last night at the Thistle Hotel.
When he failed to attend breakfast, his colleague, former head of Hampshire CID, Detective Chief Superintendent Keith Ackerman, went to his room and found the officer dead in bed.
Cleveland Police Chief Constable Barry Shaw, said today: "Sir John was a highly regarded chief police officer who had a distinguished and outstanding police career.
"He will be sadly missed within the police service.
"Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his widow and two daughters."
Former Home Secretary Jack Straw ordered an enquiry into Operation Lancet, one of Britain's longest and most expensive police investigations which examined allegations against members of Middlesbrough CID and it's chief, Detective Superintendent Ray Mallon.
Last year the Crown Prosecution Service decided there were no criminal charges to answer, but Mr Mallon was to face disciplinary charges. He tended his resignation to the force on Friday. Chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, Councillor Ken Walker, expressed his shock and offered his sympathy to Mr Hoddinott's family.
He said: "We shall clearly have to have urgent discussions with the Home Office about the future of the review, but obviously at this stage our thoughts are with the family."
Mr Walker said Sir John's review of Lancet was to be used as a case study by the Home Office to shape government proposals for a new police complaints system.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-66244/Former-police-chief-dead.html#ixzz1qsMlbfUm
FROM POSTMAN PATELS BLOGSPOT
"James Ashley 39 was in bed , naked, asleep, with his girlfriend and during an armed raid by Sussex Police on his flat at 4.20 am at Flat 6 Western Road, St Leonards, Hastings, on January 15 1998 PC Chris Sherwood of the Sussex Police Special Operations Unit (“SOU”) shot him dead. No arms or drugs were found on the premises, contrary to the information on which authorisation for the raid rested.
Sherwood, was later tried for murder and after 10 days hearig the prosecution case, Judge Rafferty directed the jury that Ashley should be acquitted of murder and manslaughter. She told the jury that “there is not evidence to negative the assertion of self-defence in all the circumstances...” . Sherwood claimed that he had, mistakenly, believed that James Ashley was pointing a gun at him and was about to shoot him.
Barbara Wilding, then assistant chief constable of Kent constabulary, was asked to investigate, and the late Sir John Hoddinott, then the chief constable of Hampshire police, was asked to produce a report into the chief constable's involvement in what happened. Neither report has ever been published but they have been leaked - which the Guradian published and was later read into the record of the House of Commons by James Ashley's MP Louise Ellman. inter alia the raid was "authorised on intelligence that was not merely exaggerated, it was determinably false . . . there was a plan to deceive and the evidence concocted." ....Paul Whitehouse, the then chief constable, "wilfully failed to tell the truth as he knew it, he did so without reasonable excuse or justification and what he published and said was misleading."
Sir John found evidence against Deputy Chief Constable Mark Jordan. That included criminal misfeasance and neglect of duty, discreditable conduct and aiding and abetting the chief constable's false statements.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Jordan was suspended on full pay for nearly three years before being retired permanently on ill-health grounds with a full retirement pension at the age of 43. That enabled him to escape disciplinary procedures.
The Chief Constable of Sussex, (now) Martin Richards, who is the nominal defendant in the case, has admitted negligence and agreed to pay damages, but strongly denies misconduct by the force and took the case to the Law Lords specifically to block the assault and battery allegation.
The background to the Ashley family's claims is best laid out by Lord Neuberger (Para 122) ..." There has been a criminal trial, where the prosecution case, with full argument and evidence, was aired in public over more than 10 days, and a verdict obtained, although, as the prosecution did not make out a prima facie case, PC Sherwood and other defence witnesses have never given evidence in public about Mr Ashleys death. The coroner decided not to proceed with the inquest after the acquittal of PC Sherwood, pursuant to section 16(3) of the Coroners Act 1989. The Ashleys’ request for a public inquiry was refused by the Home Office in 2001 and in 2004, and an application by the Ashleys for leave to challenge the 2004 decision by way of judicial review has been refused." and at Para 125 "The Ashleys’ reason for proceeding with the battery claim is simply to establish that Mr Ashley was unlawfully shot by PC Sherwood. ".
Lords Scott and Rodger agreed with Lord Bingham that "the claimants have an arguable claim for battery of the deceased " and Lords Carswell and Nueburger dissented.
Lord Scott notes in his judgement (Para 27) ..."The deceased Mr Ashley, while naked and unarmed, was shot by PC Sherwood within seconds of the latter’s entry at 4.20am or thereabouts into the bedroom. The question whether in all the circumstances it was reasonable for PC Sherwood to have believed that the figure facing him was armed and was presenting a deadly danger is, to me at least, an open one on the facts."
As Lord Carswell outlines (Para 74) "His death was a tragic error which should not have happened, as the appellant Chief Constable has explicitly admitted. He has accepted responsibility for the deficiencies in the planning of the operation and the briefing of the police personnel, which led up to the fatal shooting and without which the raid would probably have taken place without incident. He has agreed to pay damages for the admitted negligence of his force, and if it is adjudged that aggravated damages should be payable, to pay them on that basis."
He then gets to the nub of the claims of the father and son ..."It is patent that the respondents’ wish to pursue the cause of action in assault and battery stems from a desire to publicise Mr Ashley’s death and to attempt to obtain a finding which will hold PC Sherwood at fault in civil law."
Lord Bingham (Para 4 ) said ,"The claimants’ reasons for wishing to pursue their claim in battery are readily understandable, as are the Chief Constable’s reasons for wishing to resist it, but it is not the business of the court to monitor the motives of the parties in bringing and resisting what is, on the face of it, a well-recognised claim in tort."
Jane Deighton, solicitor for the family, said: "It is a defeat for the [now retired] chief constable of Sussex who spent the last 10 years trying to manoeuvre the Ashleys out of court." BBC
One has also to take note of Lord Neuberger who makes the forcible point (Para 133) that .."The immediate perpetrator (PC Sherwood) was prosecuted and acquitted seven years ago, and his reasonable interest, as an acquitted person whose actions 10 years ago would again be challenged in court, militates against the claim proceeding merely for the purpose of establishing in a civil court that he had committed the wrong of which he had been acquitted. Further, substantial costs and court time, as well as police effort, might very well have to be devoted to the claim if it proceeds, and a reliable assessment of a split second decision and action in very fraught circumstances would be difficult, especially more than 10 years after the event "
In a sense therefore PC Sherwood is yet another victim of the resolute determination of the Sussex Police (and others) to obstruct at every stage a public examination of exactly what happened at 4.20 am in Flat 6 Western Road, St Leonards, Hastings, on January 15 1998 and why an armed policem was there to shoot him.
As Lord Neuberger says (Para 132) "..there is an obvious and substantial public interest in any death for which the police are responsible being publicly investigated, especially where there is an arguable case that the killing was unlawful".
Let's hope it isn't another ten years before we get the answers that the Ashley family demand and deserve.
FOOTNOTE : Another dead Chief Constable: Sir John Hoddinott 56 had travelled to Middlesbrough with DS Keith Ackerman late on Sunday night 12th August 2001 for preliminary meetings on Monday in Operation Lancet relating to enquiries into "supercop" Ray Mallon who had resigned on the Friday before Sir John was found dead in his bed.
Sir John had been appointed in May 2001 to investigate the £7m Operation Lancet inquiry.
Police say there are no suspicious circumstances. BBC A post-mortem confirmed he died from natural causes."
The Thistle Hotels are used for secret family court conferences.