Now that former Metropolitan police commissioners Lords John Stevens and Ian Blair have joined other blue voices calling for an independent inquiry into how Wayne ‘the rapist’ Couzens remained a member of the UK’s biggest force, their own problematic record deserves revisiting.
Consider, if you will, what Stevens and Blair did when confronted with horrific allegations of domestic abuse and bullying by their own intelligence chief in charge of the very squad responsible for rooting out bad apples.
Detective chief superintendent Chris Jarratt served his entire Met career in south London. His postings included the Brixton robbery squad, the Tower Bridge Flying Squad and Southwark crime squad before he was made staff officer in 1996 to Deputy Assistant Commissioner David Veness.
Two years later Jarratt was hand-picked by a cabal of self appointed men with the right stuff to investigate corruption in specialist squads and offer up just enough bodies to satisfy politicians that the Met should continue policing itself after the Stephen Lawrence scandal.
Jarrett was appointed intelligence chief of a new covert anti-corruption unit called CIBIC, which carried out deep undercover infiltrations as part of what the Met claimed was a no fear nor favour blitz on the bent.
Jarrett’s direct boss at CIBIC was Dave Wood, who in turn answered to other anti-corruption busters, among them Bob Quick and Andy Hayman. The chain of command stopped at Stevens, who as deputy commissioner from 1998 to 2000 was responsible for the entire anti-corruption effort. Its motto: Integrity is Non-Negotiable.
Stevens claimed no stone would be unturned. Only it turned out that certain stones were never touched or they were peered under and as quickly turned back over.
In 2001, after three years on CIBIC, where he was privy to the Met’s darkest secrets, Chris Jarratt was promoted as a detective superintendent in charge of all murder squads in south London.
But within ten months he had been removed following multiple allegations of physical and emotional abuse from female police staff, in one case dating back to the mid-1980s. Jarratt was also facing separate allegations of financial impropriety and abuse of power.
By the time these allegations emerged in early 2002, Stevens had become the commissioner and Blair was now his deputy in charge of all discipline matters. Under their watch, a decision was made to treat Jarratt differently from how other detectives facing far lesser allegations had been treated by the anti-corruption squad.
For example, Jarratt was not put under surveillance, his phone wasn’t tapped, his police car and office were not bugged and no watch was put on his bank accounts. Nor was Jarratt visited in the early hours of the morning and humiliated in front of his children and neighbours with a search warrant and the service of an official notice that he was now under investigation.
Instead, the former anti-corruption chief was discreetly informed that he would be removed as boss of south London murder squads and found a new posting while an internal inquiry took place.
How long the Met had sat on the complaints from police staff is not known, but it ran into months.
The decision to launch an internal investigation was a difficult one for the Met because Jarratt knew a lot and if found guilty of criminal or discipline offences his disgrace would have a knock on effect for many high profile and sensitive cases.
Among them the prosecution of Flying Squad and Regional Crime Squad detectives for corruption and the murders of Daniel Morgan, Stephen Lawrence and 10-year-old Damilola Taylor.
Internal police documents show there had been a mutiny by homicide detectives just before the Met moved against Jarratt in March 2002. His ‘dictatorial’ management style had run down staff morale so badly that senior managers believed all nine murder squads under Jarratt’s command had been ineffectual during the hunt for Damilola Taylor’s killers.
Climate of Fear
One senior murder cop said in his witness statement that over 100 homicide detectives wanted to transfer when Jarratt was their boss. Another senior detective said Jarratt operated a climate of fear, was vindictive to officers he didn’t like and female staff were ‘terrified’ of him.
Jarrett’s own staff officer said in a statement that his boss’s idea of feedback was to get him to tell a female staff member ‘she smelt of cigarettes and her feet stank.’ An experienced personnel manager explained how when she once made a mistake her fear of what Jarratt might do made her ‘physically sick’.
Another female complainant said:
‘He looks at you as though you are a complete idiot and makes you feel totally worthless. He is in fact a bully who likes to totally control people … The only thing he is interested in is his [promotion] … I am not afraid of anyone except Mr Jarratt and I hope I never have to meet him again.’
Naturally, with such a raft of complaints against him it made sense to temporarily post Jarratt to Human Resources.
Meanwhile, the Met looked around for a senior officer to run the internal investigation. That poisoned chalice was given to then deputy assistant commissioner Stephen House, who today is a knight of the realm and deputy commissioner to Cressida Dick.
The Met press office said at the time that DAC House was ‘independent’ because he had come to the Met from Staffordshire police.
But the inquiry was very much in-house and to keep it so such serious complaints about Jarratt were never referred for oversight to what then passed as a police watchdog, the PCA.
The bullying allegations from such a wide group of men and women were significant. But more shocking was an allegation against Jarratt of actual bodily harm on his former girlfriend, a police officer.
Linda had dated Jarratt in the 1980s. But he left her for another policewoman who he later married and with whom he fathered children. That marriage ended in 2000 and Jarratt was seeing a Met police solicitor when the internal investigation started.
DAC House found Linda after hearing from fellow officers that it was ‘common knowledge’ Jarratt had assaulted her and his now estranged wife.
Linda’s statement made for chilling reading. She and Jarratt had lived together from 1982 to 1985. She described him as ambitious and ‘very money orientated’. On two occasions she claimed he had ‘seriously assaulted’ her at home. She gave excuses at work of having fallen down the stairs and after one assault said Jarratt drove her to the hospital. Adding:
‘Chris made threats he would use his Masonic links to ruin my father’s career if I ever reported the violence.’
Linda’s best friend, a female Met officer, made a supporting statement recalling how she sought refuge in her flat with a bruised face. Two GPs confirmed Linda’s account of visiting the surgery in 1985 complaining of pain and swelling of her limbs.
A male detective came forward to make a statement claiming Jarratt had victimised him on the murder squad because he knew about the assault allegations. Five detectives supported this detective’s account of victimisation.
Eventually, Jarratt was interviewed under caution in January 2003. He denied having long term vendettas against any detectives under his command and suggested those who had made statements against him were in some sort of conspiracy to undermine him.
On bullying, he said he hadn’t set out to treat staff unfairly but as he was ambitious he did have high performance standards.
Turning to Linda’s assault claims, Jarratt said she ‘hated’ him because he didn’t want to marry her and was seeing the policewoman who later became his wife.
The abuse allegations were ‘wholly unfounded’, he said, and the suggestion of threatening Linda’s father ‘preposterous’. Jarrett claimed never to have concealed that he was an active Freemason, adding that such behaviour would offend the tenets of the secret Brotherhood.
He denied assaulting his ex-wife and when asked for his view on domestic violence said it was ‘appalling.’
Linda did not want her statement used to bring criminal charges against Jarratt but was content to be a witness in any discipline case against him. In any event, the Crown Prosecution Service decided in August 2003 that no criminal charges would be brought.
It coincided with a Met wide poster campaign saying the force was going to ‘pursue abusers even without evidence from the abused partner.’
The campaign followed an announcement by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) that it was considering a ‘formal policy’ to combat domestic violence by cops. Measures would include screening for offenders and encouraging partners, family members and colleagues to come forward.
Furthermore, ACPO said accused police officers would be treated like the rest of us and ‘always’ arrested. Suspension while under investigation would also be considered – neither of which happened in Jarratt’s case.
In December 2003, the Met press office said Jarratt would face a discipline board in June 2004 for five alleged breaches of the police code concerning ‘honesty and integrity’ including ‘overbearing conduct’ towards colleagues.
The assault and domestic violence allegation formed no part of the discipline charge sheet, even though ACPO had recently said that in cases where for whatever reason criminal charges had not been brought dismissal should be a sanction.
In the end there was no discipline board. Jarratt struck a deal whereby the Met dropped all discipline charges relating to misuse of police resources and improper disclosure because they had discovered there was a ‘lack of evidence’ or Jarratt had now provided ‘a satisfactory explanation’.
The bullying claims also went because Jarratt agreed to accept a written warning – one of the lowest sanctions available. Details of the agreement remain secret. But the affair didn’t effect his rise.
Black Cab Business
Jarratt was promoted to commander of Greenwich borough. However, in 2009 he was removed as part of the fall out over the bungled investigation by officers under his command into John Worboys.
Police errors had left the prolific black cab rapist free to attack many more women. Carrie Symonds, the prime minister’s wife, claimed Worboys had targeted her in 2007.
Jarratt was given other senior roles in the police until, after 34 years service, he retired with a good pension and trained to become a black cab driver offering bespoke tours of London.
Jarrett trades on his time at Greenwich to attract clients to the black cab business he runs with two other retired senior Met officers. The internet site features Jack the Ripper but there are no plans for a Worboys tour.
Asked last night for his thoughts on the investigation into the assault, bullying and domestic violence claims he faced as a senior detective, Jarratt did not respond.
He is presently in Niger with his new wife, Catherine Inglehearn MBE, the British ambassador to the African nation.
Lords a Leaping
Lord Stevens, executive for corporate investigators Quest, Protector, Mercer Street Security, Axiom and AFA MIDCO, which provide integrity and police training, told a newspaper this weekend that vetting must be improved to get rid of wrong’uns in the police.
Stopping short of suggesting Dame Cressida Dick should step down as Met commissioner, he said she needed to ask herself some searching questions.
Perhaps Stevens should also ask himself what he did as deputy and then commissioner to dismantle the toxic culture of sexism and cover up in the Met.
Lord Blair, who makes his money from public speaking and training the Indians how to be better cops, appears to have searched his soul enough to suggest on the radio this weekend that as a result of changes he made as commissioner from 2005-2008 ‘misogyny and unpleasantness’ became relics of the past.
And in today’s Times Blair writes about how concerns over Met culture should lead to an external inquiry.
In July Dick brushed off a finding of ‘institutional corruption’ by an independent panel looking into the Met response to the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan. It identified a culture of cover up and lack of candour to the public.
That culture was very much at work during the Wayne Couzens case. Shortly after he pleaded guilty to rape and murder between June and July this year, The Upsetter learned from a government source that the Met had CCTV showing Couzens handcuffed Sarah Everard before putting her in his car.
The Met refused to comment about the handcuffs when it was put to them over the summer. An honest answer would have had no bearing on the criminal case as Couzens had pleaded guilty. An honest answer would have helped women make better informed choices on the streets late at night.
Instead, the Met dissembled and sat on this one shocking fact in the sure knowledge it would send convulsions through the public and set back its damage limitation plans.
Dick assures us she has searched her soul and is honourable. Some may wonder why after so much scandal on her watch she wasn’t forced out by her political masters. Instead, Dick was recently given a 2-year extension to her contract until 2024.
The answer in part is because the Home Office does not see any alternative candidate among the men and women running British policing.
Dick’s deputy, Sir Stephen House, was already overlooked for the top job and could be seen as someone with too much history with the Met’s troubled past.
Met assistant commissioner, Neil Basu, would have been the first ethnic minority to lead the UK’s biggest police force, but he is seen as too woke – which tells you how far to the right the Home Office has become under Priti Patel.
So for the next two years, the Home Secretary is content for Dick to take the flack; a lame duck police commissioner seeing out her time before taking her seat in the over-bloated House of Lords alongside Stevens and Blair.
And so it goes.