14 May 2008

Were my meetings with Andrew Mackinlay MP bugged?

Only three months ago there was much debate and scandal over the bugging of Mr Sadiq Khan MP’s meetings with a constituent in prison. In 1999 and 2001 my Member of Parliament, Andrew Mackinlay, came to visit me in prison to discuss my case. I was already aware at the time of the danger that our conversations could be recorded and used against me. It is very easy to secretly record conversations in a private visit room, and there are cameras fitted in the ceiling to take photographs of any documents that are placed on the table between the visitor and the prisoner. I referred to my suspicions in an earlier post here.

Mr Mackinlay has just asked a parliamentary question to check whether the authorities will admit that our meetings were bugged:

219 Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether the discussions held between the hon. Member for Thurrock and his constituent Michael John Smith at Full Sutton Prison, York on 1st September 1999 and 30th July 2001 were covertly (a) recorded, (b) transmitted and (c) monitored in some another way by or on behalf of any Government department or agency; and if he will make a statement.

Mr Mackinlay is aware that bugging is a possibility, as he had a strange “burglary” shortly after our 1999 meeting, which he referred to in Hansard of 26 October 1999. I have referred to this matter over 2 years ago in another post.

PostScript: Almost as the above was being posted there is yet another scandal of prison meetings being bugged. This time it is the case of Harry Roberts and his lawyer Simon Creighton. Jack Straw does the usual acquiescent acceptance of this policy in a Daily Mail article.

Police corruption or professional standards?

Today I received a reply to my complaint to the Police, regarding the way they had dealt with the investigation of my case in 1992/93, prior to my trial. As was to be expected, the reply was obviously a standard type of response, simply trying to brush away my complaint as not worthy of investigation. Well, no wonder they do not want to investigate the details, because it is the Police who will be found to have done something dishonest.

Below is the content of the Police reply:

Reply from Police Professional Standards p.1

Reply from Police Professional Standards p.2

Directorate of Professional Standards
Prevention and Organisational Learning Command

DPS Customer Service team
Jubilee House
3rd Floor
230-232 Putney Bridge Road
London SW15 2PD

Fax Number: 020 8785 8740
Email: DPSCustomerServiceTeam@met.police.uk

Telephone: 020 8785 8335

Our reference: PC/01731/08

Date: 12 May 2008

Dear Mr Smith

I am writing in connection with the complaint you made via our on-line complaints form on 17 April 2008 concerning your trial in 1993.

We take any complaint against the police very seriously. As you know, it has been my responsibility to investigate your complaint and I have now examined all the facts and circumstances very carefully.

Under the Police Reform Act 2002 and the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2004, there are instances where the police can apply to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to dispense with the need to investigate complaints further. I have considered your complaints and have decided that it is appropriate to apply to the IPCC for dispensation. The Acts provides instances when dispensation may be applied for and I have cited the following grounds in my application:

• More than twelve months have elapsed between the incident and the making of the complaint and there is no good reason for the delay.

• Owing to the time that has elapsed it is not practicable to complete a meaningful investigation, for example. DCS Macleod retired in 1995 and is no longer to subject to police regulations.

• The test for admissibility in a court of law is one for the Judge to consider and it is for the Judge to consider the integrity of the evidence presented to him. The process for challenging the process and findings of the trial is through the courts of appeal. To consider this matter as a complaint would represent an abuse of the procedures for dealing with complaints.

I know that you have fought a long and sustained campaign to have your name exonerated and I know that you will be disappointed with my response. However, the police complaints system is not the appropriate route to progress your campaign.

Yours sincerely

Mark Lawrence
Detective Chief Inspector

The reasons given for throwing my case out would be something to laugh about, if it did not have such serious implications for my future. For example, the point that the incident I complain about occurred more than 12 months ago, and that ‘there is no good reason for the delay’. I did not even know about the undisclosed evidence until 11 October 2007, when I received an e-mail revealing the truth behind the “restricted” document, which was the key exhibit at my trial. The reason this was not known to me before was because the Police had withheld what they knew about that document, and the fact that evidence was withheld become only too clear when the document was examined at my trial. So the Police are responsible for the delay, not me.

The second excuse for not dealing with my complaint is also a “red herring”, because I am not complaining simply about the wrong-doing of DCS Malcolm McLeod. The Police failings involved more than just one officer, and this will be obvious from the case papers prepared for my trial; it will be evident to anybody who takes the trouble to read those documents that there is something wrong with the Police investigation. The Police had to cover up what they knew in order for the ambush to be prepared during my trial. However, the evidence the Prosecution used to ambush my Defence was based on lies, and I did not discover the truth until 11 October 2007, due to the Police cover-up.

It is not acceptable to pass this matter off as something to be dealt with by a judge at an Appeal. I may never get as far as an Appeal if the Police, the CPS and the CCRC continue to block my grounds for an Appeal. The honourable route would be for the Police to admit the wrong that they did, and it would be better for a policeman to stand before a judge to explain what happened, rather than for me to justify why I was treated in such an abominable way.

The reasons given for rejecting my complaint are plainly false. The issues about which I complain about are written in black and white in the case papers. For example: McLeod’s allegations about Oshchenko were undermined by Stella Rimington’s testimony at my trial; the allegations about a KGB training mission to Oporto were challenged by the publication of the Mitrokhin Archive, and the claims that I had a secret document were disproved by evidence that it was an obsolete document in 1984. The Police do not want to admit that they falsified evidence to gain my conviction.

This matter has not ended by a long way, and I shall now be taking my complaint to the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) for a proper resolution. I cannot be certain that the IPCC is any more honest than the Police, but unfortunately I have to do the best I can when British Justice is so unreliable and corrupt.

10 May 2008

The integrity and honesty of British lawyers

On 7 December 2007 I sent an email to lawyers involved in my trial and Appeal, which I commented on in my blog:

Sir Derek Spencer QC, 18 Red Lion Court Chambers

Sir John Nutting QC, 3 Raymond Buildings Chambers

Mr John Kelsey-Fry QC, Cloth Fair Chambers

Mr Rock Tansey QC, 25 Bedford Row Chambers

Mr Michael Mansfield QC, Tooks Chambers

Mr Gary Summers, 7 Bedford Row Chambers
(previously at Andrew Trollope QC Chambers 187 Fleet Street)

Mr Richard Jefferies, Lound Mulrenan & Jefferies Solicitors

Also, on 14 December 2007 I sent an email to Gareth Peirce, my solicitor at Appeal, pointing out the new evidence that shows my trial and Appeal were unfair. Again, I posted this on my blog.

The issue I was telling these lawyers about was my concern over the false evidence presented at my trial regarding the testimony of Dr Meirion Francis Lewis, which undoubtedly was responsible for my conviction. As legal professional people I expected that they would be interested - because it was a case they were involved in - that if such an important issue at my trial was false then this has serious implications for Justice. I expected them to contact me with questions, and a desire to discover what had happened and whether what I was saying was true.

To date the only lawyer who has shown that professional concern is Mr Richard Jefferies, and as far as I can see he is the only lawyer mentioned above who deserves to be credited with having any integrity with regard to my case. I am surprised that the other lawyers have not even shown me the courtesy of a reply, or offered any reason why they do not want to become involved in resolving the anomalies that there were in my case. All I can say is that I am very much disappointed at the standards shown by supposed legal professionals.

02 May 2008

Home Office obfuscates to avoid embarrassment

I sent an email to the Home Office last month, to encourage them to get involved in the debate about why false evidence was used at my trial.

Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008
From: Michael John Smith
To: public.enquiries [at] homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
Cc: complaints [at] attorneygeneral.gsi.gov.uk
Subject: Complaint to the Attorney General

Dear Sirs,

I am sending you a copy of the correspondence below, because the Home Office is also culpable in suppressing evidence regarding my conviction in 1993 under the Official Secrets Act.

I have copies of letters from Members of Parliament, representing the Home Office, claiming that there was no wrongdoing by anyone involved in my prosecution. However, the evidence now proves that the Home Office were lying about these matters, and that those lies were sent to several other Members of Parliament.

I now expect an explanation of why the Home Office has lied about the facts? If you cannot satisfy my request for an explanation then this will have to be played out in the public domain.

Kind regards
Michael John Smith

I received the following reply:

Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2008
From: "Little Laurie (OCJR, BTU)" Laurie.Little [at] cjs.gsi.gov.uk
To: Michael John Smith
Subject: Response to your e-mail 16 April.
Attachment: 2008.04.22 Signed copy response to 198006 Michael John Smith.pdf

Dear Mr Smith,

Please find attached a signed copy of the reply to your e-mail of 16 April.

Laurie Little

Office for Criminal Justice Reform
Better Trials Unit
Miscarriages of Justice Team
Ground Floor, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

020 7035 8466

The Office for Criminal Justice Reform is the cross-departmental team that supports all criminal justice agencies in working together to provide a service to the public.

Mr Little’s letter is printed below:

Criminal Justice System: working together for the public

22 April 2008
Our Ref: 198006

Michael John Smith

Dear Mr Smith,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 16 April, addressed to the Home Office. This has been passed to the Ministry of Justice which now has responsibility for this subject area, and I have been asked to reply.

I note from the exchange of e-mails that your complaint against the Attorney General relates to an alleged miscarriage of justice, namely your conviction under the Official Secrets Act in 1993. Your allegation is that you were convicted on false information given to the court.

You refer in your e-mail exchange to your application made to the CCRC in 1998. I know therefore that you are aware that, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) took over responsibility from the then Home Secretary in 1997, the responsibility for investigating alleged miscarriages of justice, I have spoken with the CCRC who have assured me that your application is actively under review. I understand that you were provided with a provisional Statement of Reasons in April 2003 but that you made subsequent representations to them and provided additional fresh evidence. Further to this you have, as recently as December 2007, provided them with further fresh evidence which they are actively investigating.

I appreciate that your case is taking a long time to resolve but again I am assured by the CCRC that they are fully investigating all the fresh evidence you have provided since 2003 and that this is of a complex nature and requires thorough investigation. It would be wrong for ministers of the Crown to interfere with the CCRC's investigation of your case. The CCRC will complete their investigation and in due course provide you with a final Statement of Reasons as to whether or not they will refer your case to the Court of Appeal.

Should you wish to make a complaint about the procedures of the CCRC, the Commission operates its own complaints procedures; it is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. Any complaint that cannot be resolved informally is referred to a designated Complaints Manager, and is acknowledge within a few working days. The Complaints Manager investigates the complaint, and will let the complainant know within ten days how long the investigation is likely to take. If the complainant is not satisfied with the Complaints Manager's findings, the complaint can proceed to a second stage review by the Commission's Chairman or nominee.

Yours sincerely,
Laurie Little

Miscarriages of Justice Team
Better Trials Unit, Ground Floor, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

Mr Little’s letter refers to the complex nature of the evidence I have submitted to the CCRC. There is really nothing complicated about it at all. I am simply pointing out that key evidence produced at my trial was false, and I expect this matter to be addressed and given the same prominence that the false evidence was given at my trial.

The issue that the authorities seem to be concerned about is that this matter is embarrassing to them, and raises questions about why the false evidence was not identified and corrected before my trial. These are questions they may or may not wish to answer, but all I want is for the correct evidence to be put before the Court of Appeal, and then a decision made as to whether it can now be considered that my conviction was “safe”. If this injustice is not corrected, then there is no alternative but for me to continue complaining until somebody takes notice.