We now learn, from Police National Headquarters itself, that, in fact, the police waited at least 22 months from the time they were first notified about the alleged theft before interviewing any of the key players!
Police National Headquarters has also lied about the status of the investigation. On 16 April 2008, Detective Inspector Harry Quinn announced, in a formal Police National Headquarters press statement, that the investigation into the alleged thefts had been ”closed”.
(Close followers of these matters will also remember that Quinn was the Detective Inspector who decided not to charge Mike Smith with deliberate overspending on Labour’s 2005 election campaign, partly on the grounds that, as he would almost certainly be convicted, this would undermine confidence in the election result. Quinn also “investigated” a burglary of Diane Foreman’s house but couldn’t get to the bottom of that crime either.)
After Quinn’s announcement in April 2008 that the file was closed we redoubled our efforts to obtain it. With the investigation over and the file closed, we believed there could be no reason for Police National Headquarters not to release the file (or, perhaps, at least release it with some information blacked out). This has been the Ombudsman’s Office’s view too, as communicated to us by phone - that there is no reason in principle for a closed file not to be released.
Police National Headquarters have now changed their mind about the status of the file! In their letter of 26 September 2008, they now claim that “while the matter is not actively being investigated at present, the file remains open and has not been closed”.
What this means is that our dodgy Police National Headquarters thinks it is OK to release a press statement in April 2008 saying a file or investigation is closed - after profoundly incompetent or corrupt management of that investigation - but then, when it looks like they will therefore have to release that file a few months later, to declare it to still be open!
This is truly outrageous, and does nothing to diminish the perception that our once-proud Police is now nothing more than another arm of the government machine. Full marks to Matthew Hooten for seeing this matter through - that man deserves a DB!