Beds, Herts & Bucks

Habib Ullah death: Misconduct hearings to be held in public

Vigil outside police station in High Wycombe Image copyright Justice4Paps
Image caption Habib Ullah's friends and family have welcomed the news about the public hearings

Supporters of a man who died during a drugs search say the decision to hold police misconduct hearings for five officers in public is "a very significant step".

Habib "Paps" Ullah, 39, of Slough, Berkshire, collapsed during a routine stop and search in a car park in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, in July 2008.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the proceedings would be held openly.

A date has not yet been set.

Mr Ullah was searched by Thames Valley Police officers in a car in High Wycombe. During the search he suffered breathing problems and later died in hospital.

Image copyright Justice4paps
Image caption Habib "Paps" Ullah died following a police search in 2008

IPCC associate commissioner, Guido Liguori, concluded the hearings should take place in public due to "the high level of public interest; the gravity and seriousness of the case; and the need for transparency".

He said the focus of the hearing would be on the testimony of the five officers following Mr Ullah's death.

"The IPCC has set a high threshold for the gravity of cases to be heard in public and I am satisfied the alleged circumstances of this case meet that test," he added.

Saqib Deshmukh, from campaign group Justice 4 Paps, said Mr Ullah's family were "genuinely pleased".

An inquest into Mr Ullah's death recorded a verdict of "death by misadventure" in March, and Thames Valley Police said there was a case of "gross misconduct" to answer.

Key evidence removed

A previous inquest in 2010 was abandoned after it was found key evidence had been removed from statements to the IPCC.

Five police officers and a solicitor were interviewed by the IPCC under caution.

In March 2010, the IPCC cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.

But under oath at the inquest the following December, the officers admitted removing key evidence from the statements they had given.

The Crown Prosecution Service examined whether criminal charges should be brought but later decided there was insufficient evidence.

Thames Valley Police will be responsible for arranging the date and venue for the hearing. The BBC understands it is likely to take place in Reading.

The IPCC investigation report will be published at the conclusion of the hearings.

More than 13 vigils have been held by campaigners calling for justice for Mr Ullah.

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