Lynette police probe: No misconduct found says report

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Media captionLynette White was stabbed more than 50 times in a Butetown flat

A major investigation into the failings of South Wales Police following the murder of a Cardiff prostitute 26 years ago has found no criminal conduct.

Lynette White was stabbed more than 50 times in a Butetown flat in February 1988.

Three men were wrongly convicted before the killer was caught 13 years later using DNA evidence.

In 2011, a corruption trial of eight former officers collapsed prompting the investigation.

Although Operation Dalecrest, carried out by Devon and Cornwall Police, found no criminal conduct, it has upheld about one in six of the 386 complaints which were investigated.

But it found no evidence of gross misconduct or malice by the officers.

The report, overseen by Devon and Cornwall Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton, follows complaints about the handling of the inquiry into the conduct of the officers involved in the original investigation.

The complaints included serious allegations such as perjury, conspiracy and destruction of material, as well as what the report calls relatively minor allegations of misconduct.

The report found:

  • The number of complaints totalled 402, and 386 were investigated.
  • Most of these were rejected, but a total of 67 - or 17.4% - were upheld.
  • Just over half of these related to the disclosure of evidence and record-keeping, and most of the rest involved the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace) and bail issues.
  • The report said none of the upheld complaints "involved any evidence or criminal conduct or gross misconduct".
  • It also found no evidence of "any collusion in any criminal conduct or of any pressure being applied improperly to any officer within the inquiry or elsewhere".

The failed trial was Britain's biggest police corruption case but it was halted in December 2011 and all the ex-officers were acquitted.

That case in turn followed the wrongful murder convictions in 1990 of Stephen Miller, Tony Paris and Yusef Abdullahi, who became known as the Cardiff Three. Their convictions were quashed in 1992 and they were freed.

In 2003, the real murderer was identified using DNA technology. Jeffrey Gafoor confessed to stabbing Ms White during a row and he was jailed.

Responding to the report, South Wales Deputy Chief Constable Matt Jukes said the force had expected there were be "some issues in individual decisions or actions".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Lynette White was stabbed to death on Valentine's Day in 1988

But Mr Jukes said this had to be read in the context of the overall report and "there was no evidence of wrongdoing surrounding these issues and the majority of complaints were not upheld."

Mr Jukes said the force would reflect on the upheld complaints and the "areas of learning" which resulted.

"Because of our experiences, subsequent investigations here and further afield will be informed by our learning and also by the areas of best practice identified by Dalecrest," he said.

"Today's report reflects the good faith and professional leadership with which officers from South Wales Police approached the important and challenging investigation into the earlier police inquiry."

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