SPEECH BY ALISON HALFORD. FORMER ASSISTANT CHIEF
CONSTABLE MERSEYSIDE POLICE. NOW A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WALES.
Read in her absence at a public meeting held on Saturday, June 3rd 2000 at John Moores
University, Liverpool UK.
I have never met Eddie Gilfoyle or his sister Sue Caddick but I believe that he is
innocent and an injustice has been done. I happen to place my trust in Sue and Eddie
and I am sorry that it is impossible for me to be present with you today. I cannot
stand by without speaking up against a rank injustice.
l am not looking for a crusade,
another battle to enjoin with the Authorities and the Establishment. This message
today is not an attempt to settle old scores against my former force, because of
how they treated me when I started an action for sexual discrimination. As the most
senior woman in the British Isles and the first to make police history by being appointed
to the rank of Assistant Chief Constable (that’s just two away from the top job),
I failed nine times in a bid for promotion.
I had a strong case. An extensive CV gained
from 21 years in the Met Police rising though the ranks to a position where I was
able to apply and win in open competition against 3 male Merseyside Officers. When
I applied for the Deputy Constables job in Merseyside, I was beaten by the personal
friend of the Chief Constable Jim Sharples, despite his short time as an ACC, 20
months to my six plus years in fact. Was it something to do with them holidaying
together or having attended a police training course together, surely not? Patronage
got him the job but it was not enough to spare him from appearing before magistrates
on a drink drive charge, having landed at the bottom of a ditch soon after he retired.
is not sour grapes. I can only try to give you a small insight into how some, and
let me repeat some, senior officers behave. The kindness Sharples showed his chum
was in total contrast to the way he behaved towards me when I started an Industrial
Tribunal action against the force in 1990. He said that the case would be “vigorously
defended” and my God for once he was true to his word.
Jim Sharples should not have
behaved so reprehensibly when he was the most senior law enforcer in the County.
Senior officers behaviour and attitude sets the cultural and moral tone for how the
officers under his command also behave.
Much as I respect Paul Condon, the former
Commissioner of the Metropolis, a man who worked for me in the 70’s, he was wrong
to excuse illicit practices of his officers under the grand heading of “noble cause
corrupt”. Some years ago, his message was that the law made it virtually impossible
for hard pressed officers to secure convictions and thus blind eyes should be turned
to massaging of the evidence. What a dangerous precedent! When does fact vanish and
fiction begin? Eddie must surely know.
This is the first step onto that irretrievable
sliding slope which knocks out sound principles of fair play, proper collation of
evidence and makes the judicial process a lottery. What is more damaging? A woolly
criminal justice system where clever lawyers get their clients off or the police
officer who decides to up the stakes by massaging the evidence and inventing “the
verbals.” Surely it is better for a guilty citizen to go free than to wrongly take
away the liberty of an innocent person?
I wrote a book after my ordeal. It is called,
“No Way up the Greasy Pole.” In it I made serious allegations against Jim Sharples,
I was adamant and suggested strongly that my phones, office and home were bugged.
I heard the tinkle on my private office line and the enemy was always so well informed.
I left the Merseyside Force with a ruined reputation in 1992, Rex Makin, a high profile
local liberal lawyer took my case of wrongful phone tapping to the Court of Human
Rights. The Home Office actually admitted that certainly the office phone in HQ had
been bugged. James Sharples allowed this tapping to happen. It helped his case and
he’s not squeamish over how he wins.
It was the same leader of the force that perverted
the course of Justice by doctoring official files, rewriting the chronology of these
documents and removing, never to be seen again, the original minute sheets, thus
making it easier to rewrite the file contents. Who helped with this corrupt endeavour?
The finger of suspicion points at the staff officer to the Chief Constable, Martin
Hill. Martin had the tricky task of establishing the colour of the manila folders
used in the 80’s so as not to have a major cock up in the conspiracy to alter the
evidence. I know, I had informants too. Martin was a sergeant in the Chief Constable’s
outer office when I arrived in 1983. Regularly promoted for services rendered, he
has never seen duty on the streets in the last 17 years. He has now attended the
needs of 3 chief constables.
Jim and I liked each other when he arrived in Merseyside
in 1988 as a DCC. I was delighted when he got the top job a year later, I was wrong.
came with his own unsavoury baggage as heading the enquiry into police malpractice
by the Surrey Police into Guildford 4. Having had audience with the now deceased
Roman Catholic Archbishop who had knowledge of the case through the confessional,
Jim was still unconvinced that at least one of the 4 might have been innocent. Dramatic
new evidence was unearthed. Jim was called to London for urgent talks with the DPP.
Quite suddenly, a huge question mark was raised over the 4’s guilt and the rest is
One tiny clue remains buried in my book that was never probed, Sharples confided
in me that his senior investigation officer had been caught acting improperly over
expenses cIaims. The local press had got wind and Jim was seriously concerned. I
have the clearest recollection of giving him comforting advice as I lounged against
his office window. Jim stated that the “fiddling” officer (my description not his)
left quietly with a medical pension.
Only then, with a new officer in charge did the
weight of evidence favour the presumption of the innocence of the Guildford 4. I
can honestly say that Sharples was deeply concerned that a crucial member of his
team was compromised and in turn the investigation itself could have been deeply
flawed. He did nothing to right a possible wrong. He copped out. A familiar trait
of his as I know well.
There is no time to tell you all the shocking antics Sharples
orchestrated against me, his most senior woman officer colleague after I started
my discrimination action. The manipulation of police internal files even stretched
to manipulating Metropolitan files in order to ruin the reputation of an important
witness for me. Different typefaces had been used to rewrite the original memo. No
one has ever explained why official files were doctored and were found to be in the
possession of Special Branch - who place bugs on phones. Special Branch again! Jim
was spared giving evidence, I enjoyed my 24 days in the witness box. Jim seemed more
reticent. As his turn approached a settlement was offered. He has always denied I
had a case and was reported in the papers as saying that the case was irrelevant
and had been a waste of money. The judgment of the Court of Human Rights about his
behaviour was scathing. By then Sharples had collected his knighthood and went to
ground. “No comment was his only reply!”
How could even a Tory Home Secretary have
knighted this man? What faith can anyone have in the criminal justice system when
a senior law enforcer uses his influence, power and cruel wickedness to ensure that
justice is denied.
As a former officer of some 30 years I do not lightly abuse the
privilege of my position now. I feel sad that decent officers are some times so badly
led, certainly so in Merseyside. Recently, the Home Secretary agreed that Sharples
behaviour towards me was “outrageous.” That comment was long overdue and very very
If they did it to me, an officer at the highest level on the inside track in
the system, what on earth can they do to the Eddie Gilfoyles of this world? Many
lawyers are sloppy and are more interested in the legal aid handouts than reading
the brief. Police officers ignore the rules and who is there to guard the guards?
appears to have been a dreadful injustice perpetrated against Eddie. At the time
of his arrest Sharples was still head of Merseyside. I say to you Sir James, “You
stopped almost at nothing to defeat my case. You fought unfairly at every stage.
You were not fit to sit in judgment on your fellow officers on disciplinary hearings.
You are not an ethical man and furthermore you presided over a force that embarked
upon perversion of the course of justice in order to defend the indefensible. Arise
Sir James and tell me that I am wrong.”