Two face charges in police drugs row inquiry

TWO OFFICERS are to be charged with criminal offences after one of the biggest police corruption inquiries for 20 years.

The decision by the Crown Prosecution Service follows a three-year investigation of more than 130 complaints against 46 officers at Stoke Newington police station, north-east London.

Allegations in the inquiry, codenamed Operation Jackpot, included planting drugs on suspects, assault, theft and criminal damage. Up to 10 officers are understood to have been recommended for criminal charges.

The CPS said yesterday that Constable Ronald Palumbo and Detective Constable Barry Lyons were being charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and perjury. The CPS said there was insufficient evidence to charge any other officers, a decision condemned by the Hackney Community Defence Association, representing most of the complainants.

'This is an insult to the community,' said Graham Smith, of the association, which has called for a full judicial inquiry. The Court of Appeal had heard evidence that officers at the station had been involved in planting drugs on suspects and, in one case, supplying them, he added.

The charges against PC Palumbo and DC Lyons relate to the investigation and trial in September 1991 of Dennis Tulloch for possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply. PC Palumbo also faces charges for alleged perjury during the trial of Paul Noel, in December 1991, for possession of cannabis with intent to supply. The two men will appear before Bow Street magistrates' court on 13 September. Both officers have been suspended since 1992.

The Metropolitan Police is currently considering disciplinary action against the 44 officers who have had allegations made against them. The force's decision will be sent to the Police Complaints Authority for review.

Operation Jackpot, which was completed in February after the Complaints Investigation Bureau examined 22 separate cases, was prompted by the claims of Pearl Cameron, a convicted drug dealer, who said that some Stoke Newington officers were dealing in drugs.