Exclusive: Scotland Yard’s rotten core: Police failed to address Met’s ‘endemic corruption’
Organised crime infiltrated police ‘at will’, according to secret report. Top-level internal inquiry identified scores of corrupt individuals working for Met
TOM HARPER Author Biography Friday 10 January 2014
Organised criminals were able to infiltrate Scotland Yard “at will” by bribing corrupt officers, according to an explosive report leaked to The Independent. The Metropolitan Police file, written in 2002, found Britain’s biggest force suffered “endemic corruption” at the time.
Operation Tiberius concluded that syndicates such as the notorious Adams family and the gang led by David Hunt had bribed scores of former and then-serving detectives to access confidential databases; obtain live intelligence on criminal investigations; provide specialist knowledge of surveillance, technical deployment and undercover techniques to help evade prosecution; and even take part in criminal acts such as mass drug importation and money laundering.
The strategic intelligence scoping exercise – “ratified by the most senior management” at Scotland Yard – found murder investigations had been infiltrated and sensitive intelligence regarding other organised crime investigations had been leaked, allowing the offenders to escape justice.
The author lamented the Met’s inability to root out the problem. More worryingly, he also appeared to question Scotland Yard’s commitment to tackle organised crime corruption in the ranks. “For whatever reason, the current approach is simply to wait for the corruption intelligence to surface and to then react to it,” Tiberius concluded.
Later, it added: “These syndicates are organised and all working towards the common goals of making profit, laundering their money, evading prosecution and preventing the forfeiture of their assets. The achievement of these goals is focused and determined; the law enforcement investigation should follow this lead.”
Tiberius identified 80 corrupt individuals with links to the police, including 42 then-serving officers and 19 former detectives.
It concluded: “Organised crime is currently able to infiltrate the MPS at will.”
Research conducted by The Independent suggests that only a tiny number of the officers named as corrupt have been convicted.
Keith Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “I am deeply concerned by the findings of this report. It is vital that the police have the utmost integrity. The public must be able to trust them to do their job and ensure justice prevails.
“The Met have made vast progress rooting out corruption in the force in the last 20 years but it would appear more may still need to be done.”
Mr Vaz added he would be writing to the current Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, to “ensure that these allegations have been fully investigated and to confirm that he is satisfied that corruption no longer exists”.
The report, produced by a team led by the former Met assistant commissioner Andy Hayman, paints a shocking picture of security at the time inside Scotland Yard, which had responsibility for the UK’s counter-terror operations.
Working in secret, the Tiberius team drew on multiple sources of information including covert informants, intelligence from telephone intercepts, briefings from the security services and thousands of historic police files.
One senior investigating officer interviewed by the inquiry said at the time: “I feel that… I cannot carry out an ethical murder investigation without the fear of it being compromised.”
In one case, the report names an alleged corrupt officer who was inexplicably put in charge of a team investigating a gangland murder linked to organised crime.
Other officers Tiberius says were known to be corrupt were also identified as working on inquiries into organised crime, many of which resulted in compromised investigations and, in some cases, failed prosecutions.
Some relationships between Met officers and the criminal underworld were so close that in one case named police officers were identified as co-owning properties and even racehorses with a man suspected of being one of Britain’s most hardened gangsters.
In one shocking case, a police statement taken from a highly sensitive witness was found in the safe of a nightclub controlled by the Adams family – described by Operation Tiberius as the “major crime family in north London”.
The report stated the named witness was helping police try to solve the murder of Michael Olymbious, who the police believed had been killed after losing £1.5m of ecstasy pills owned by the syndicate.
Tiberius also found a secret informant – codenamed “Lee Paul” – providing intelligence on the Adams family and the corrupt police in its pay to his handler at the Met, who appears to have been a man of integrity.
However, Paul’s highly sensitive role was later uncovered by other officers and his activities became more widely known, causing uproar among the corrupt elements inside the Yard.
But far from seeing this as evidence that the police were finally on to them, one rogue detective inspector was so unperturbed that he felt confident enough to brazenly threaten one of Paul’s handlers with reprisals.
The ability of organised criminals to target highly sensitive police witnesses and informants was the subject last July of evidence given to Parliament by one of the Met’s most senior officers.
When questioned by the Home Affairs Committee over a separate case of corrupt police officers targeting protected witnesses, revealed in The Independent, Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “I am not aware of anything in the Metropolitan Police that has resulted in infiltration thereof, but it is a risk that we are constantly trying to prevent materialising, of course, because people’s lives are at risk.”
The Met’s inability to tackle the corruption of police officers by organised crime syndicates is laid bare in some of Tiberius’ recommendations.
Although the report suggests a range of strategies to combat corruption, including establishing a dedicated task force, it also recommends merely “removing alleged corrupt officers from specialist departments back to borough postings to disrupt networks” and putting troublemakers “together on one particular unit to enable a strong manager to keep an eye on them”.
A former senior officer, who recently retired from Scotland Yard, told The Independent: “Nothing has changed. The Met is still every bit as corrupt as it was back then.”
One of the few successful investigations reviewed by Tiberius was Operation Greyhound, a long-running inquiry that found that two detectives had helped a known criminal hunt a money-launderer over a £600,000 debt.
Martin Morgan and Declan Costello were paid £50,000 for helping Robert Kean, a builder with a string of previous convictions, find his former business associate, Andrew Smith.
During their trial in 2002, the Old Bailey heard that Kean and another criminal, Carl Wood, spoke of torturing Smith and putting his body in a car crusher if he could not pay his debt.
At the heart of the scandal was the friendship of Morgan and Kean, a suspected drugs dealer. When Kean wanted to find Smith, he turned to Morgan, who used intelligence databases available to Met detectives to try to track down and entrap him.
Kean said Morgan “was good at his job” and would be paid “50gs”– £50,000 – to act as his bounty hunter.
Morgan, Kean and Wood pleaded guilty to conspiring to unlawfully and injuriously imprison a man and to detain him against his will.
Costello plead guilty to conspiracy to assault, causing actual bodily harm.
Asked to comment on the Tiberius report, a spokesman for Scotland Yard said: “The Metropolitan Police Service will not tolerate any behaviour by our officers and staff which could damage the trust placed in police by the public.
“We are determined to pursue corruption in all its forms and with all possible vigour.
“The dedicated Anti-Corruption Command, part of the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, proactively investigates any allegations or intelligence relating to either corrupt police officers and staff [or] those that may seek to corrupt our officers’ staff.
“There is no complacency in the Met’s determination to succeed in this task.”
Botched jobs: Compromised murder investigations
Thought to have been killed by members of a named organised crime syndicate over a “failed drug importation”. Tiberius names a former Met police officer whom it says “has always been considered to be one of the most corrupt officers serving in the MPS”. The report claims this former officer contacted his “good friend”, a detective sergeant, on the investigating team whom Tiberius says “had previously been the subject of at least three corruption inquiries” yet was allowed to work on a gangland murder investigation. For reasons that are unclear, the Met formally “authorised” the meeting between the pair which “legitimised the access into the murder inquiry”. Tiberius notes that “shortly after the meeting” the alleged organised crime boss “knew that the investigation team considered him a suspect”.
A suspected drug dealer who fled to Spain was one of the prime suspects for the murder of Ricky Rayner in 2001 and asked a man whom police suspected of leading a drug dealing syndicate to check whether he was still wanted in the UK. Within days, this man was able to find out the status of his associate following telephone contact with a police officer. The report stated a Police National Computer check was obtained from Bethnal Green police station.
The suspected gangster was able to give the suspect the “all clear”, apparently leading to his return to Britain. Tiberius also identified “regular contact” between another suspected corrupt detective and a senior member of the investigation into the murder.
Again, the investigating officer had previously been identified as possibly corrupt – yet had never been prosecuted and was put in charge of a sensitive investigation.