Chief constable apologises for ‘significant police failures’ in Kevin Nunes investigation

There is no evidence senior Staffordshire Police officers conspired to suppress information that could have changed the outcome of a murder trial, according to a long-awaited report.

Oct 4, 2017

There is no evidence senior Staffordshire Police officers conspired to suppress information that could have changed the outcome of a murder trial, according to a long-awaited report. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) accepted that no officers should face disciplinary action over their handling of the Kevin Nunes investigation as it published its findings on Wednesday (October 4). However, the 578-page ‘Operation Kalmia’ report found the officers failed in their “personal, professional, ethical and moral” obligations to disclose information that would have undermined a key witness. Staffordshire Police has now apologised for its actions during the case. Responding to the report, Chief Constable Gareth Morgan said: “It is clear that following a lengthy process, both the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and IPCC found no evidence of corruption or criminality in the actions of Staffordshire Police. “However, significant police failures were highlighted, for which, on behalf of the force, I apologise. “I am particularly sorry that the family of Kevin Nunes have not received justice for his death, and for the length of time if has taken these matters to reach a conclusion. I know they have been let down.” Mr Nunes, an amateur footballer, was found dead on a country lane in 2002 following an alleged gangland shooting. Five men were sentenced to life imprisonment over the killing in 2008 but were released on appeal four years later after a serving officer reported that Staffordshire Police had suppressed information. Operation Kalmia was launched to examine the conduct of 14 officers, including former Chief Constable Jane Sawyers, former Gloucestershire Chief Constable Suzette Daveport, West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale and retired Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Adrian Lee. The complainant accused the officers – who all served with Staffordshire Police at the time – of deliberately concealing a 2006 review of the force’s Sensitive Policing Unit to ensure a protected witness attended court. However, the IPCC report, written by former Derbyshire Constabulary Chief Constable Mick Creedon, found no evidence of corruption or wilful non-disclosure and said the officers did not have a legal duty to disclose the information. It instead blamed an “overall collective failure” to ensure all the facts were shared with the prosecution. In 2015, the IPCC recommended that all four senior officers face gross misconduct hearings for their actions but they were cleared by their appropriate authorities last March. The IPCC said: “Whilst the IPCC has accepted that there should be no disciplinary proceedings for the senior officers, it remains concerned that there were clearly significant failures by Staffordshire Police that ultimately resulted in the unsafe convictions of five individuals for murder. “This is extremely serious and it is critical that such failures are avoided in future. “It is also a matter of concern for the IPCC that whilst the appropriate authorities for CC Sawyers and CC Davenport [their respective police and crime commissioners] accepted that some criticism may be made of the performance of these officers at the time of the matters under investigation, under the current legislation it is not possible to apply unsatisfactory performance management processes to senior police officers. “This appears to the IPCC to be a gap, since poor performance may be an issue at any level of an organisation.” Chief Superintendent Dan Murphy, national secretary of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, said: “This report confirms there was no corruption and no conspiracy in this case, which our members have always maintained. “Despite this, our members have been subject to a protracted and stressful investigation. As senior officers they were committed to leading their staff and doing the best job possible in difficult and demanding circumstances, and they continue to argue that the failures in this case w

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