Court rejects police officers’ assertion that the IPCC was tainted by institutional bias


Re: R (Mackaill & Ors) v West Midlands Police & Ors [2014] EWHC 3170 (Admin)

The claimant police officers (who all held office in the Police Federation) were subject to an investigation as to whether they deliberately misled the media in relation to the account given to them by Andrew Mitchell MP in the wake of the ‘plebgate’ affair. Initially the IPCC decided to refer the case to the respective force of each claimant as a supervised investigation, rather than deciding to hold an independent investigation by the IPCC itself.  Each appropriate authority concluded that the claimants had no case to answer. However, following a series of hearings before the Home Affairs Select Committee in Oct 2013 the IPCC took a fresh decision to re-determine the mode of investigation as an independent one. The claimants sought to quash the Oct 2013 decision to re-determine the investigation.

The Divisional Court held that, as a result of what it described as a “car crash” of procedural errors, the report of the original investigation had been invalid and of no effect and therefore it was open to the IPCC to re-determine the matter.  Accordingly the IPCC was granted the declaratory relief it sought to quash the original investigation process.

However, given that deputy head of the IPCC, Deborah Glass had made statements to effect that she believed the claimants were guilty of misconduct, the Court quashed the redetermination decision of 30 Oct 2013 on grounds of apparent bias or predetermination. The matter was remitted to the IPCC to make a fresh decision as to whether to re-determine the investigation on the proviso that Ms Glass not be involved in the decision.  The Court rejected the claimants’ assertion that by reason of Ms Glass’s statement, the IPCC was tainted by institutional bias.

Tim Owen QC was involved in this case.