Harold Shipman victims probe to investigate whether Manchester police ‘misled’ families over human remains

Independent police watchdog announces three probes into conduct of Greater Manchester Police

A serving officer in the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has made a series of allegations regarding “corruption” within the force, including claims that officers misled families of the victims of serial killer Harold Shipman.

The police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), announced today that it will be carrying out three separate investigations into the claims made by the whistleblower, which range from “cronyism” among senior officers to failure to investigate complaints.

One of the probes will look into allegations that GMP officers misled families and the public when disposing of human tissue from the Shipman victims.

Remains from 12 of the GP's victims were kept for more than a decade by GMP before they were secretly destroyed without the families' permission.

The watchdog said it will also be looking into the actions of a Detective Chief Inspector, including reports of the unauthorised bugging of a police station office, and whether this put public safety at risk.

Finally, the IPCC said it will investigate claims that an investigation into alleged sexual abuse was badly handled and that those alleged failings were then covered up by officers.

The probe is set to involve officers in ranks as high as GMP’s Assistant Chief Constable, Terry Sweeney.

IPCC commissioner Jan Williams said: “These are serious allegations and the gravity and nature of the allegations, and the fact that they are made against senior officers within the force, means they must be investigated independently.

“We will also look at the wider organisational response by Greater Manchester Police in each of these investigations.

“We know that the families involved will have been through very distressing times, and we will be sensitive to this as we conduct our investigations.

“We have a statutory duty to conduct independent investigations in circumstances such as these, but we will make sure that we communicate with the families and do whatever we can to avoid further distress.”

It has previously been reported that tissue samples were taken from 12 women killed by Shipman to establish cause of death.

They were kept in storage for a number of years to ensure that police had the appropriate evidence should the murderer or his family appeal against his conviction, until in 2011 officers decided to “respectfully dispose” of them without telling the families.

The remains reportedly belonged to Kathleen Grundy, Joan Melia, Winifred Mellor, Bianka Pomfret, Ivy Lomas, Marie Quinn, Irene Turner, Jean Lilley, Muriel Grimshaw, Alice Kitchen, Elizabeth Mellor and Sally Ashworth.

Sir Peter Fahy, GMP chief constable, said: “I have stated before that the decisions dealing with the aftermath of the Shipman investigation were complex and sensitive, our priority was to avoid causing further distress to the families.

“Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney has voluntarily decided to stand down from his work with the Hillsborough Inquiry as part of Operation Resolve while the investigation takes place.

“This is a personal decision made as he does not want the matter to distract from the operation's important work.

“I support the need for difficult issues we face to be subjected to scrutiny and for there to be a transparent process for this.”

He added: “These are serious allegations but this investigation will not distract us from the hard work of officers and staff every day who are keeping the public safe and tackling criminals.”

Additional reporting be PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy