Charlene Downes murder detective 'should be reinstated'

Charlene Downes
Image caption No trace of Charlene Downes has been found

A detective forced to resign over the investigation into the botched handling of a murder case should be reinstated, a police tribunal has said.

Det Sgt Jan Beasant was found guilty of misconduct in December 2011, following a review of the inquiry into the murder of Blackpool teenager Charlene Downes.

However, a Police Arbitration Tribunal has overturned the finding.

Lancashire Police said it is waiting to view the written reasons for the decision before commenting.

Charlene, 14, disappeared in 2003 and has not been seen since.

Rachel Baines, chair of the Police Federation Lancashire branch said it welcomed the tribunal's decision.

"We only take cases to the tribunal on merit", she added.

The force's head of Professional Standards Supt Simon Giles said: "We respect the decision of the tribunal panel and we are awaiting the written rationale of the panel and we will then consider the findings in detail."

'Poor transcriptions'

Investigations into the police inquiry began in 2008, after Iyad Albattikhi was cleared of killing Charlene when "grave doubts" were raised around the evidence.

They centred on transcriptions done by Ms Beasant of secretly-recorded conversations between Mr Ilbattikhi and another man, spending 2,500 hours over two years listening to 52 audio tapes.

The quality of the covert recordings was criticised during the trial by defence barristers as "poor" with confidence "low" in the accuracy of the transcriptions.

A review by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the investigating team were guilty of a strategic and tactical failure in the management of the material.

It added that the covert surveillance was "handled poorly and unprofessionally" and recommended that Ms Beasant face a disciplinary hearing, one officer should receive a written warning and five others should receive words of advice.

Mr Albattikhi was tried in 2007, accused of her murder.

However, a jury at Preston Crown Court was discharged in 2007 when members failed to reach a verdict.

A retrial also collapsed, after the Crown Prosecution Service expressed "grave doubts" about the reliability of the covert surveillance.

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