A Metropolitan Police chief, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, will be grilled by Members of Parliament this week over allegations that Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service were involved in a ‘‘deliberate cover-up’’ of damning evidence of police corruption.
According to the Daily Mail newspaper, a court was told that the Met and the CPS repeatedly concealed documents suggesting that officers, investigating a former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, for fraud, were paid to leak details of the inquiry that could have helped him evade justice in 2012.
The extraordinary case centres on Scotland Yard’s prosecution of James Ibori, who once worked as a cashier at a branch of Wickes DIY store in West London before becoming Delta State governor.
Ibori is currently serving a 13-year jail term for money laundering in a UK prison as well as his lawyer, who was also jailed for seven years after admitting fraud, although he claimed he was wrongly advised to do so by his then legal team.
One detective was said to have received at least 19 unexplained cash deposits, totalling thousands of pounds, into his bank account after illegally disclosing sensitive information, a judge heard.
But when the corruption allegations were revealed by a whistle-blowing lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, he was accused of forging the evidence and charged with perverting the course of justice.
Police privately expressed fears that his devastating claims could undermine the £50m fraud trial.
Last month, the charges against the lawyer were dramatically dropped after the CPS was forced to produce crucial papers, which it had always insisted did not exist, that suggest serving Met officers took bribes.
Although the Met insists no corruption took place, the case leaves the Met Commissioner – already under fire for his refusal to apologise for the Yard’s disastrous historical sex abuse investigations – facing difficult questions from the Home Affairs Select Committee this week, as he was personally warned about the potential miscarriage of justice three years ago.
The CPS’s handling of the case, criticised by former police as well as the defendants, will also increase pressure on Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders, who faced calls to quit over her failure to put Lord Janner on trial.
The Daily Mail further reports that a Met Commander, Peter Spindler, who reported directly to Hogan-Howie, told the BBC the corruption claims were bogus without having checked if documents were genuine.
Gohil told The Mail on Sunday, “I uncovered serious corruption, but when I tried to expose this, I was victimised. Astonishingly, the CPS used the might of the state and all its resources to cover up what had happened, and brought trumped-up charges to persecute me. The truth has finally unravelled.”
The chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vaz, said, “Members have indicated they will want to ask the Commissioner, when he next appears before the committee, to deal with the latest developments which raise a number of new questions.”