Next week, Metropolitan Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe will be grilled by MPs over bombshell claims that Scotland Yard officers and the Crown Prosecution Service investigation former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, were involved in a ‘deliberate cover-up’ of damning evidence of police corruption.
A UK court was told that the Met and the CPS repeatedly concealed documents suggesting that officers investigating Ibori were paid to leak details of the inquiry that could have helped him evade justice.
James Ibori was jailed for 13 years in 2012 at Southwark Crown Court after admitting fraud and money-laundering.
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, the lawyer 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 £50million fraud trial.
Last month the charges against the solicitor 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.
Last night the lawyer who had been accused of forgery, Bhadresh Gohil on Sunday said: ‘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.’
MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, 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.’
Gohil, who was Ibori’s business lawyer, was also jailed for seven years after admitting fraud, although he claims he was wrongly advised to do so by his then legal team. He was separately found guilty of money-laundering – a charge he continues to deny.
Mr. Gohil claimed he received an anonymous letter while he was in Wandsworth Prison suggesting police in the case had been paid by a private investigative firm, RISC Management, hired by Mr. Ibori.
Mr. Gohil had planned to use the evidence of police corruption to overturn his convictions but he was later charged with perverting the course of justice and for forgery. His appeal was thrown out by the court.
His counsel, Stephen Kamlish, stated that the police acted in bad faith by failing to investigate who had received cash payments.
The document had revealed that John McDonald, a Met detective involved in the Ibori investigation, met RISC director Clifford Knuckey on September 10, 2007.
It further revealed that Mr. Knuckey claimed £46.75 in expenses for a meal he enjoyed in a pub with a source that day.
Two days later, the document also shows that a ‘meeting with confidential source to hand over source payment for information provided… £5,000.’
Telephone records also revealed that 120 calls were made from RISC to Met officers during the Ibori investigation – including one to Mr. McDonald on the day of the pub meeting.
Another document reveals Mr McDonald made 19 unexplained cash deposits into his bank account, most of around £500, while he was working on the case in 2007.
After the pub meeting, Mr. Knuckey provided a report to Ibori’s lawyers detailing secret information he had been given about the case.
Their records stated: ‘CK [Knuckey] explained that he had met with a senior officer on 10 September 2007’ and that ‘DC McDonald (DCM) has had a serious fall out’ with other officers on the case.
A RISC list of payments reveals that between 2006 and 2007 the firm paid some £360,000 to a network of confidential sources in Ibori’s and other cases, delivered in cash by couriers to the firm’s London offices.
DFID’s Conflict of Interest
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) who financed the Met investigation of Ibori, ironically invested huge sums in Ibori’s businesses, investigations have revealed.
The conflicting involvement of the DIFD has given rise to claims of conflict of interest which has stalled the process of seizing Mr. Ibori asset.
Last week, it was also claimed that DFID would be paid £25 million from Ibori’s asset when processes of seizing them are complete.
It was discovered that the investment arm of the DFID, Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) had invested hundreds of millions of pounds into banks, including the defunct Oceanic and Intercontinental Banks and other businesses in which Mr. Ibori had huge interests.
But the DFID has denied the allegation of conflict of interest in the matter claiming that thought it funded the investigation into Mr Ibori’s case, it did not influence it.
Source: Daily Mail