Lawyers claim fresh evidence in damages case

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LAWYERS representing a man whose trial was stopped amid allegations that West Midlands Serious Crime Squad detectives fabricated his confession to an armed robbery said yesterday that they had obtained important fresh evidence backing his claim for damages from the police.

The case of Paul Dandy, claiming wrongful arrest, unlawful detention, malicious prosecution and misfeasance by detectives, is likely to be first of up to 10 civil actions against the West Midlands police arising out of the Serious Crime Squad affair. The case is expected to be heard in the High Court in Birmingham later this year.

Mr Dandy was cleared of armed robbery in November 1987 in one of the cases which led to the disbandment of the squad in August 1989, the inquiry by West Yorkshire police and the transfer of a large number of detectives to non-operational duties.

David Simon, Mr Dandy's lawyer, said the case was crucial. 'Since there have been no further criminal or discipline charges over confession evidence, the civil actions will provide the only opportunity for evidence which has led to trials collapsing, as in Dandy's case, or convictions being quashed in the Court of Appeal, to be put directly to the detectives concerned.'

When four detectives were prosecuted over the case of Keith Parchment, freed by the Court of the Appeal amid allegations of a fabricated confession, they chose not to give evidence and were acquitted.

Mr Simon said the new evidence was material that had not been available when the prosecution of Mr Dandy was stopped after tests on documents suggested his one-line confession to robbery had been inserted by detectives.

An inquiry resulted in no criminal proceedings and a disciplinary reprimand for three detectives who admitted losing a page of notes.

The file was re-examined by the West Yorkshire inquiry, but no further action taken.

The Independent also understands that a former head of the West Midlands Police complaints and discipline department was investigated over an allegedly inaccurate letter to the Court of Appeal involving the links between the Dandy case and another where men claim the squad fabricated evidence.

In 1988, the appeals of Leslie Horobin and Kevin Wilcox, serving long sentences for armed robbery, were rejected after the court received a letter from the force saying that although detectives involved in their prosecution faced disciplinary proceedings in the Dandy case and another case, the accusations did not involve confession evidence.

The Police Complaints Authority has told Mr Horobin that although the letter was inaccurate, the writer had retired and was no longer subject to disciplinary procedures.

The Home Office has referred the case back to the Court of Appeal; it is one of a number due to be heard this year.

(Photograph omitted)