As we reported back in February this year concerns about potential conflicts of interest over planning permission being granted to Taylor Wimpey to to build luxury apartments on the site of Bernard Morgan House now include speculation this former police building might have been sold to help cover a blown police budget. The focus of attention then was very much City of London common councillors James Thomson and Chris Hayward because of their involvements with both the planning and police committees.* In a Sun ‘exclusive’ last week it was reported that top City of London cop Chief Superintendent Dave Clark was under investigation for ‘allegedly using secret information to help pals win crime contracts.’ If it turns out these allegations have any substance to them, we’d be very interested to know whether activities of the type being investigated contributed to the blown police budget.
A top fraud cop is under investigation after allegedly using secret information to help pals win crime contracts.
Former Commander Dave Clark is facing a string of police watchdog and criminal allegations over his conduct.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct launched its investigation into Clark, the City of London Police’s second highest-paid officer last year on £152,864, several months ago.
The investigation centres on the alleged provision of secret information to a potential police contractor and requesting the use of police resources for a personal matter.
The force’s former head of economic crime is also said to have shared sensitive information outside of procedure and passed more confidential information which was given to a third party.
It is understood one of the allegations, dating to 2014/15, centres Clark on helping friends who ran firms to win police contracts.
An IOPC statement said: “A senior officer working with City of London Police is under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct over alleged abuse of their position to access confidential information.
“The allegations relate to three separate occasions in 2014 and 2015 where the officer is said to have accessed and shared sensitive information.
“We are also investigating a complaint lodged against the officer that, earlier this year, they accessed confidential information that was subsequently passed to a third party.
“The officer has been served notice that they are subject to misconduct investigation and a criminal investigation in relation to alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act and other legislation relating to breaches of a constable’s powers and privileges.
“The serving of a notice does not mean that misconduct or criminal proceedings will necessarily follow.”
City of London investigates the production of counterfeit branded goods as one of the chief aspects of intellectual property crime which is worth £1.3trillion globally.
It is understood Chief Supt Clark denies any misconduct.
A source said: “He is one of the top fraud officers in the UK so if any misconduct is found, it would be a hammer blow of an investigation. Clark has been the face of many of City of London’s campaigns.”
Long-serving officer Clark has not posted on his Twitter account since July but City of London said none of its officers were currently suspended.
Cop Out: Top fraud cop facing watchdog misconduct probe, by Jake Ryan, The Sun, 11 October 2018 (updated 12 October 2018).
Regardless of the results of any investigation, we believe that in the interests of efficiency and transparency**, the City of London Police should be merged with the Metropolitan Police. Likewise the undemocratic City of London council should be abolished with the small geographical area it covers and its tiny residential population absorbed by one or more neighbouring boroughs. We would also like James Thomson and Chris Hayward to publicly address City of London residents’ concerns over potential conflicts of interest as regards them and retired councillor and former lord mayor ‘Sir’ Michael Bear. It isn’t enough for City of London councillors to act with probity, as we’ve said before, they also need to be seen to do so!
The header shows Chief Superintendent Dave Clark with a colleague, possibly in Guernsey.
* Chris Hayward and James Thompson are also on the City of London Police Committee, where poor oversight seems to have led to spiralling costs for various projects. Eyebrows were raised by a recent report of how budgets have been blown and campaigners against The Denizen are left wondering whether it was pressure over this that led to Taylor Wimpey’s ghost home site (until recent demolition the location of a police section house) being sold for what appeared to be an inflated price until the developer ‘unexpectedly’ received planning permission for their massively over-scaled building. There is now concern that there may have been conflicts of interest other than of the types already reported by the national press as regards the sale of The Denizen site and subsequent planning permission. This recently published City of London Police Programme Management Audit has fuelled speculation about this:
This audit was undertaken at the request of the Performance and Resources Sub (Police) Committee in response to a concern that had been raised at the increase in costs for the City Police Accommodation Programme. The initial estimate for the programme was in the region of £44.4 million and the current budget is £118million. This is a complex programme of work with input from the City Surveyor’s department, as well as the City Police (CoLP). In addition to budget estimate issues, communication problems between the City Surveyor’s and CoLP staff have been cited by management as resulting in a lack of clear governance, management of resources, and reliable outcomes.
Performance and Resource Management Sub (Police) Committee, 1 February 2018, Agenda Item 6, City of London Chamberlain’s Department Internal Audit Section, City of London Police Programme Management Audit, Final Report.
Given other unresolved matters it is at best unfortunate that Hayward and Thompson are also on this Police Committee. It contributes to creating the impression that Hayward and his friends are completely unconcerned about public perceptions of probity or lack thereof as regards the City of London council. Quite possibly these men feel no need to take public opinion into account with regard to their behaviour in office because the Corporation of London is controlled by undemocratic business votes and they simply don’t care what residents and other observers think. We’d stress that they don’t simply need to act with probity, they should also focus on being seen and understood to be doing so…
Chris Hayward Still Out To Lunch on Public Perceptions of Probity! by Pippa Henslowe, 7 February 2018, Reclaim EC1.
** Wikipedia currently has this to say about the City of London Police: “The police authority is the Common Council of the City, and unlike other territorial forces in England and Wales there is not a police and crime commissioner replacing that police authority by way of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, but like a police and crime commissioner, the Common Council is elected… The City of London Police is the smallest territorial police force in England and Wales, both in terms of geographic area and head-count.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_London_Police. One of the many issues here is that the election process in the City gives a disproportionate voice to undemocratic business votes and as a result residents have little influence on the common council or other aspects of local government machinery in the City of London.
The Sun’s sister paper also carried a report on Dave Clark investigations, see: Top City of London fraud officer Dave Clark faces investigation by Fiona Hamilton, The Times, 12 October 2018.
Recent reports about the Alfie Meadows case suggest the City of London Police doesn’t properly understand the need for public accountability. This provides further illustration of why both the City of London Police and the undemocratic and unaccountable local authority that oversees this force should be abolished:
The City of London police force has failed in an attempt to block disciplinary action against an officer who was accused of clubbing a student over the head and causing a life-threatening brain injury.
The force was immediately criticised over its lawyers’ attempt to persuade a judge that the Independent Office of Police Conduct had overstepped its role when it forced proceedings against PC Mark Alston, who is accused of using excessive force against 20-year-old Alfie Meadows in 2010.
The incident occurred at a demonstration when violence broke out between police and protesters. Meadows, who was a second year philosophy student at the University of Middlesex, needed emergency surgery to save his life. He was subsequently cleared of violent disorder at the demonstration.
Lawyers for the City of London police had tried to argue that the case had no merit, and that the IOPC was “undermining public confidence” in the police by ordering forces to bring too many officers before gross misconduct disciplinary hearings.
But at a hearing at the high court in London, Lady Justice Sharp and Mr Justice Garnham accepted the IOPC’s case that it was up to a disciplinary panel, not the watchdog, to decide whether a case had merit.
Imran Khan QC, who represented Meadows, said that in his experience too few incidents of police misconduct were properly investigated, and “regrettably, this appears to be an attempt by the police to turn the clock back even further”.
He said: “This action shows that police forces are trying to shield themselves from accountability, which completely undermines principles of truth and accountability, which are essential for the public to have confidence in policing in the UK. Our client has had to battle for many years for justice and we will continue to support him in doing so.”
Meadows also condemned the attempt to question the watchdog’s powers. “That the police think they have no case to answer after almost killing me on a protest as a result of violent and dangerous policing is a damning indictment of how seriously they take police brutality,” he said. “Their failure to acknowledge that they even have a case to answer is emblematic of the fact that the police remain unwilling to address the serious problems of police violence, abuse of power, and unaccountability.”
London police force must act over excessive force claim, says court: City of London force must take disciplinary action against officer accused of clubbing Alfie Meadows over the head by Damien Gayle, The Guardian, 15 October 2018.