Planning: ‘No evidence of criminal activity’

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A NORFOLK police inquiry into the Planning Department has concluded there is insufficient evidence of criminal activity to prosecute.

The inquiry, which began more than three years ago and has cost over £48,000, examined allegations from more than 12 people relating to four individuals over a period of 11 years.

It considered ‘hundreds of exhibits’ and more than 1,000 documents, some of which ran to more than 1,000 pages.

The decision not to prosecute was recommended by an independent UK barrister ­– whose advice was sought ‘for reasons of independence’ – and the decision was subsequently confirmed by Jersey’s Solicitor General on behalf of the Attorney General.

However, officers from Norfolk Constabulary, who investigated the allegations, have already made senior civil servants responsible for planning aware of matters in the inquiry which related to the case, according to Detective Chief Supt Andy Smith, the officer overseeing the inquiry.

‘I don’t doubt that those matters will be considered but can’t comment [on them],’ he said.

Det Chief Supt Smith acknowledged that the inquiry had had a ‘huge impact’ on the lives of the complainants, and that the outcome was ‘not the decision that a number of them wanted or expected’.

‘We totally sympathise with how they are feeling but what I want to get across is that we have investigated at length, and in some detail, potential criminal allegations and there is no evidence of that that we can see at this time,’ he said.

Det Chief Supt Smith declined to give details of the focus of the force’s inquiry because of the possibility of civil proceedings or a request by complainants for a review of the decision not to prosecute. However, he said that the investigation had related to individual conduct in relation to the Planning Department involving allegations of misconduct, including perjury.

Norfolk Police also reviewed an earlier inquiry into the case by the States of Jersey Police, and issued recommendations in 2018. A statement issued on behalf of the Police Chief Robin Smith said: ‘As part of their work, the complaints regarding the standard of the initial investigations and reviews by SoJP have helpfully also been examined and assessed, separately to the main investigation. This review was delivered in 2018 and included 15 organisational recommendations, all of which have already been addressed.’

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