Mr Mike Veale

Debate between Lord Hunt of Wirral and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 18th July 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I think there are some excellent examples of PCCs up and down the country, including the noble Lord, Lord Bach—Parliament’s only PCC and a very good one indeed. Should the PCC not perform well at his or her job, they can be removed at the ballot box.

Lord Hunt of Wirral Portrait Lord Hunt of Wirral (Con)
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Will my noble friend the Minister accept that it is now generally acknowledged that a series of interrelated police operations—Yewtree, Conifer and Midland—were heavy-handed, disproportionate and founded on inappropriate assumptions of guilt? It is evident that there were manifest failings of procedure, governance and natural justice. Perhaps a complaint in this House was that the police were marking their own homework. When will anyone be held to account?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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In answer to my noble friend’s first question, I hope I have outlined the process by which remedy can be sought and secured for anybody accused of improper behaviour or misconduct in office. The whole system has changed, in the sense that now a police officer cannot just run, by retiring or resigning from their post, without facing the consequences of their actions.

Mr Mike Veale

Debate between Lord Hunt of Wirral and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Thursday 7th April 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, it is a matter for the office of the PCC, and it would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter.

Lord Hunt of Wirral Portrait Lord Hunt of Wirral (Con)
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My Lords, I declare my interest as immediate past chairman of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation. Whatever one’s views of Mr Veale, serious questions have been raised about Operation Conifer from all sides of the House as to whether it was truly impartial, honest or effective. When on earth are we going to get a genuinely independent review of Operation Conifer?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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As my noble friend is probably aware, we do not have plans to commission a review of either the conduct of the investigation into the allegations or the findings of the investigation. There have been several levels of scrutiny. Operation Conifer was subject to its own scrutiny channel, which checked and tested the decision-making. There were two reviews by Operation Hydrant in September 2016 and May 2017, which concluded that the investigation was proportionate, legitimate and in accordance with national guidance. A further review in January 2017 and the IOPC have also considered specific allegations related to the former chief constable, as noble Lords will have heard this morning.

Mike Veale: Police Conduct Report

Debate between Lord Hunt of Wirral and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 7th March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I understand that, having been appointed as the Cleveland chief constable in March 2018, Mr Veale resigned in January 2019 following the allegations that he had behaved inappropriately and acted in a discriminatory manner.

Lord Hunt of Wirral Portrait Lord Hunt of Wirral (Con)
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I want to ask my noble, and now right honourable, friend one simple question: will anyone ever be held to account for Operation Conifer? As my noble friend pointed out, it was a grotesque witch hunt against Sir Edward Heath—a public servant of the highest integrity—conducted by someone who is now deemed by the IOPC to have a case to answer for gross misconduct, with a legal hearing pending against him. Will anyone ever be held to account?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, Operation Conifer has been subjected to extensive scrutiny by its own independent scrutiny panel, two reviews by Operation Hydrant, in September 2016 and September 2017, and a review in January 2017 by HMICFRS. We have talked about the Independent Office for Police Conduct; it has also considered specific allegations relating to the former chief constable.

Independent Office for Police Conduct

Debate between Lord Hunt of Wirral and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 2nd February 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I think noble Lords would agree that we have seen good improvement in the IOPC’s performance in the last couple of years. We are still keen to see further improvements and greater transparency, so back in February 2020 the Government introduced reforms to the IOPC to streamline its decision-making further and increase its effectiveness. There is absolutely no doubt that there is so much more to do to improve trust in the police complaints system and to raise awareness of the IOPC’s role.

Lord Hunt of Wirral Portrait Lord Hunt of Wirral (Con)
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Does my noble friend the Minister agree with me that questions of transparency and accountability in relation to the conduct of the police have never felt more keenly vital to our well-being as a society? In the light of all the information now available—and going back to the Question originally asked by my noble friend Lord Lexden—is it not disgraceful that the completely discredited Operation Conifer has still not been examined by a fully independent inquiry? Surely no one can have any confidence, in this or any day and age, in the police simply marking their own homework.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I most certainly agree with my noble friend that trust in the police has never been more fragile than it is at the moment. Operation Conifer underwent several rounds of scrutiny, but there is further to go. Today’s report certainly means that the police have a way to go before they regain the public’s trust.

Independent Office for Police Conduct

Debate between Lord Hunt of Wirral and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Thursday 8th July 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, there were quite a few questions there but, as I said in my first Answer, the Home Secretary has announced that she is bringing forward the periodic review of the IOPC. The Home Affairs Select Committee has taken evidence for its inquiry into police complaints and discipline and into the IOPC’s role and remit in general. As part of this, the committee questioned relevant parties, including the IOPC, regarding Operation Midland and its subsequent investigation. We understand, as my noble friend knows, that Lady Brittan has submitted evidence to this, but the overall point is that the IOPC is an independent body from the Government.

Lord Hunt of Wirral Portrait Lord Hunt of Wirral (Con)
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Is my noble friend the Minister aware that my experience with Operation Conifer, as the then chair of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, persuaded me that the IOPC is not fit for purpose? Far from it—in effect, it allows the police to carry on marking their own homework, reinforcing a flawed process grievously lacking in genuine accountability. Is it not now time for radical reform?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I know that my noble friend has ongoing concerns about the handling of Operation Conifer by Wiltshire Police and the mechanisms for scrutiny of it, including by the IOPC or the IPCC, as it was at the time. The governance structures of the organisation were reformed back in 2018 to streamline decision-making and increase accountability, and we think that it has made good progress since then. The Government introduced further reforms to the IOPC in February last year, including giving it new powers to investigate matters on its own initiative.