Custody records expose worries about authorisation for raids in ‘harassment’ case
“There is clear prima- facie evidence showing that raids carried out by the City of London Police should not have been authorised” – Michael Wolkind, barrister
Police officers raised concerns about the legality of raids carried out as part of a doomed £1 million case triggered by corporate investigators Kroll.
Exaro has obtained copies of confidential custody records that reveal the worries of at least two officers about the legal basis for the raids that were carried out by their own force, the City of London Police.
A custody sergeant recorded anxiety that the raids were not warranted by the alleged crime.
The raids were carried out after Kroll persuaded City of London Police to conduct an investigation into a London businessman, Ian Puddick, for “harassment”. He was later cleared of the accusation.
Top executives from US-based Kroll met senior officers at the City of London Police to encourage them to pursue Puddick, according to files on the case obtained by Exaro.
A series of e-mails from within the highly secretive corporate-investigations giant detail how it sparked the police action as part of a Kroll operation to protect the reputation of Guy Carpenter, the global reinsurance company.
Kroll told police that Guy Carpenter, then a sister company to the corporate spooks, was the target of a harassment campaign by Puddick, who runs a plumbing business.
The Kroll executives said that the campaign started after the businessman found out that his wife, who was working as a secretary to a Guy Carpenter reinsurance broker, was having an affair with her boss.
Puddick, who is planning to sue the City of London Police for malicious prosecution, told Exaro: “It is disgraceful and worrying that these raids were authorised following the Kroll meeting. My only real crime was to mess with a corporation with deep pockets.”
The police sent anti-terrorist officers to raid Puddick’s home, office and accountants just three weeks after the meeting with the corporate spooks.
The City of London Police investigation led to criminal charges against Puddick. But the case collapsed last year. In Parliament, one MP called it a “taxpayer-funded crusade” that had cost £1 million.
Michael Wolkind, the barrister who successfully defended Puddick in court, said: “There is clear prima-facie evidence showing that raids carried out by the City of London Police should not have been authorised.”
The “detention log” for the day that Puddick was raided and arrested, August 12, 2009, shows that one custody sergeant at Bishopsgate police station recorded his concerns as well as those of a colleague with the same rank.
He wrote: “It has come to my attention that DP [detained person] has been arrested for harassment.”
He recorded that “on handover from early turn” another custody sergeant told him that the alleged harassment “was without fear of violence or the use of violence.”
“She states that she asked this question specifically of the arresting officer. The offences headers have been put on as harassment without violence.”
Harassment without violence is an offence under section 2 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Harassment with violence is an offence under section 4. But, under section 18, a raid can only be authorised for a harassment allegation if the suspect is also accused of “putting people in fear of violence.”
Puddick’s custody records obtained by Exaro clearly state that he was suspected of harassment without violence at the time of the raids.
The log shows that Puddick was accused of conducting a “protracted and complex course of harassment against victim who had conducted an affair with DP’s wife.” He was duly later charged with “harassment without violence”.
The sergeant’s record continued: “This makes this a S. 2 [section 2] harassment and consequently summary only. A S. 18 [section 18] has been authorised.” But, he pointed out, a raid cannot be authorised for harassment alone.
The log states that a detective sergeant on the Puddick case told the custody sergeant that it was a “S. 4 harassment”.
The detective superintendent who authorised the raid – and who was at the key Kroll meeting – was recorded as being “happy that this is a S. 4.”
The City of London Police said that the detective superintendent, whom Exaro is not naming for legal reasons, has left the force.
The police force declined to comment on the allegations, saying that Exaro should make a formal complaint to its ‘professional standards’ directorate.
Kroll declined to comment.