It was during his supervision of the marathon inquiry in the early 1990s into allegations that members of the West Midlands Police Serious Crime Squad had fabricated evidence that I got to know Jeff Crawford, in my role at that time as the crime correspondent of this newspaper, writes Terry Kirby [further to the obituary by Clayton Goodwin, 25 February].
The inquiry Jeff oversaw as a member of the Police Complaints Authority was the biggest and most controversial of its kind. He was subject to enormous pressures, both publicly and in more subtle ways from some officers who resented such an inquiry into their investigative methods, particularly when it was in the hands of someone with his background. He was also under an obligation to those who believed themselves unjustly in prison because of those police methods.
It is a testament to Jeff's patient, tactful but diligent manner and unfailing good humour, which drew on his vast experience of difficult race-relations issues, that the inquiry successfully negotiated a tightrope between these competing interests. A number of people subsequently released from long prison sentences for crimes they did not commit owe him a considerable debt for his work in unravelling their cases.
As well as a journalistic contact, Jeff became a confidant and friend, often unburdening himself over a drink of the stresses and strains he faced. Only some of these pressures were relieved by his deep love of West Indian cricket. In turn, he answered my endless enquiries, both on behalf of The Independent and in my research for a book on the affair, while never betraying his professional obligations. But I do know he felt deeply let down by the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service that no officers be charged, believing that juries should have decided whether the detectives involved merely bent the rules or behaved with criminal intent.Reuse content