A solicitor who advised the Police Federation is set to be investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) amid allegations of police misconduct over the death of a man during a drugs search.
Habib Ullah died in a car park in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, six years ago, while being searched for drugs which police believed were in his mouth.
There was an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death which concluded in December 2009. However, the inquest into Mr Ullah’s death was abandoned in December 2010 when new evidence emerged during police officers’ accounts.
This led to the re-opening of the IPCC investigation in order to assess the impact the new evidence had on the original investigation, and discern the reasons for the discrepancies between officers’ statements provided to the original investigation and their accounts at the inquest.
The IPCC said it interviewed five Thames Valley officers and a Police Federation solicitor under caution and believed there was enough evidence to refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over various allegations, including perjury and perverting the course of justice.
However, after the CPS announced last week that there was insufficient evidence to charge any individual, the IPCC said allegations of gross misconduct would be brought against the officers as part of an internal disciplinary process, while it had passed details of the investigation to the SRA to consider the solicitor’s conduct. The solicitor was an external adviser, rather than in-house.
An SRA spokesman said: “We do not normally confirm or deny if a complaint has been made to us, but we take all complaints we do receive seriously.”
A CPS spokesman said: “There is insufficient evidence to prove that the actions of the officers and solicitor, in altering the statements, tended to and were intended to pervert the course of justice. There is also insufficient evidence to prove that any officer wilfully made a material statement he knew to be false or did not believe to be true.
“The evidence showed that there was no attempt to conceal that statements had been altered, and indicated that any alterations were intended to give a more accurate version of events, rather than to be misleading.”
Marian Ellingworth, a solicitor at Tuckers in London acting for the Ullah family, said she was “very disappointed” that the CPS failed to lay charges.
The IPCC said its investigation would be published once the fresh inquest into Mr Ullah’s death had concluded.