A £48,000 independent investigation into alleged corruption in Jersey’s Planning Department has concluded there is “insufficient evidence” for a criminal prosecution, but the evidence did suggest a “dysfunctional” system which was "not fit for purpose."
The three-year probe by Norfolk Constabulary centred on allegations from more than a dozen people relating to the conduct of four current and former employees of the Planning Department.
The decision not to prosecute was recommended by an independent UK barrister.
Norfolk police presented their findings to the Solicitor General this week, who ratified it on behalf of the Attorney General.
Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Smith, who led the “lengthy, detailed and complex” probe, said many individuals had been interviewed and “nigh on 1,000 documents” had been examined in the process.
Whilst he would not reveal the exact allegations, Express understands those at the centre to be perjury during a court hearing and misconduct in public office.
The former offence requires that an individual knowingly made a false statement during legal proceedings and that the statement was “material to the proceedings”.
However, complainants were told at a meeting yesterday that the statements they were concerned about weren’t found to have impacted the outcome of the relevant case.
While it was also decided that there was insufficient evidence of misconduct in public office, Express understands that officers did uncover:
Detective Sergeant Duncan Woodhams told complainants at the meeting that there was evidence to suggest the department was “dysfunctional” and likely “not fit for purpose.”
Det Chief Supt Smith said at press conference yesterday that there was “identifiable learning” from the case, and that feedback would be passed to the Planning Department. He declined to comment on specific recommendations.
Earlier investigations and reviews of allegations against Planning conducted by the States of Jersey Police were also assessed by Norfolk Constabulary in 2018, Det Chief Supt Smith revealed. He said that “organisational recommendations” – which he would not disclose – were made to the Police following the review and said it was his understanding that “all of these recommendations have since been addressed.”
Pictured: Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Smith presenting the outcome of the investigation at a press conference yesterday.
Det Chief Supt Smith said Norfolk Constabulary regretted that the investigation had taken “longer than originally anticipated” and that complainants had “suffered” as a result.
“The breadth and depth of enquiries undertaken, and material to be reviewed, has been significant and particularly challenging when set against other competing major crime commitments. Additional setbacks to progressing this investigation have also been caused by previous Covid lockdowns and restrictions. While acknowledging these regrettable delays, we nevertheless wish to emphasise the overriding importance of our being able to complete a thorough and detailed investigation of matters alleged.”
Complainants were made aware of the outcome of the investigation in a meeting yesterday morning.
They were told that they were entitled to apply to the Attorney General for a ‘right to review’ the decision not to charge a suspect or pursue a civil case.
Whereas a party must be proven guilty ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ in a criminal case, defendants in civil cases are judged ‘on the balance of probability’.
Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Smith said that some parties were already pursuing civil claims in the Royal Court, though their cases had been put on hold pending the outcome of the investigation.
But the alternatives were little comfort for some of the complainants, one of whom told Express after hearing the outcome of the investigation: “I feel sick to my stomach.”
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