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News Met Police apologise to student, 22, accused of rape... (Liam Allen)

Matt

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Date: 30th January 2018
Source: The Daily Mail
Link: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5329233/Met-Police-apologise-withholding-messages-rape-case.html

Met Police apologise to student, 22, accused of rape after text messages proving his innocence weren't shown to defence teams as they announce 600 CASES will be reviewed
  • Student Liam Allan was 'dragged through' hell after woman accused him of rape
  • But the trial fell apart after it emerged police withheld vital text messages
  • The police and prosecutors have now apologised to Mr Allan in person
  • A review put the blunder down to 'error, lack of challenge and lack of knowledge'
  • Mr Allan said it looked like messages that went against him were 'plucked' out
A student who narrowly avoided being wrongly convicted of rape has claimed text messages were 'plucked' out of the evidence to paint him in a bad light.

Liam Allan, 22, spent two years on bail after being accused of rape and sexual assault while police sat on key text messages which his accuser had sent.

The Greenwich University student was eventually acquitted of the charges in December after a prosecutor discovered the full file of messages, which revealed the woman had fantasised about rough and violent intercourse. The Met Police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has now apologised after a review blamed blunders in the case on 'a combination of error, lack of challenge, and lack of knowledge'.

Speaking after the review's findings were announced today, Mr Allen said messages his accuser sent which made him look guilty were '"lucked specifically to go against me', while those which undermined the case 'weren't looked at or deemed relevant".

The Met's Commander Richard Smith and Chief prosecutor Claire Lindley met Mr Allan yesterday to apologise in person. He is mounting a claim for damages against the authorities. Mr Allen told Sky News he appreciated the face-to-face apology, but was still worried about how his case had been handled.

He said: 'What concerns me is that there were certain messages that had been plucked to go against me."

"They were midway through it so it must mean that, at some point, there was reading somewhere, and even messages from around that section were undermining [the case]."

Describing his ordeal, he said: "Every day is just sort of a different battle, you either wake up and you give up on the day or you wake up and you're ready to sort of face the day, but from start to finish after I was arrested we had hope because we knew the truth, we knew it wasn't true and you have that hope."

"As things progress the lack of communication that you have, especially on my end, of what's going on, the amount of times I had to chase up, every day just felt like you were losing."

"The evidence uploaded appeared to be cherry picked because it only assisted the Crown's case."

"This is why at the beginning of the trial my lawyers again before the judge requested disclosure and this ultimately yielded the messages which assisted my case and exonerated me."

Mr Allan now wants to go travelling and finish his degree at the University of Greenwich.

A review into the collapsed case found more than 57,000 messages were recovered from the complainant's phone, but only some were served in evidence. It is understood messages which later resulted in the collapse of the trial included some between the alleged victim and friends saying what a kind person Mr Allan was, how much she loved him and that she had had a great experience with him. There were also references to rape fantasies, Mr Allan's lawyer Simone Meerabux confirmed.

The messages sent by the woman included one to a friend saying: '"It wasn't against my will or anything."

Another read: "Sometimes sex is the number 1 priority, I'm really not joking to be honest."

She later wrote: "You know it's always nice to be sexually assaulted without breaking the law."

The Met Police and CPS today announced a number of recommendations designed to stop similar potential miscarriages of justice.

The officer in the case admitted in an email included in the review that he had been mistaken in his belief that he looked through the whole download. The review found that the prosecutor in the case had relied on the officer's mistaken belief, when they should have 'probed and challenged' him. The officer said: '"I had always made clear that there was a download but had told CPS and original prosecution counsel that I had looked through it and identified everything that was relevant."

"I can only read from this that because of the volume of analysis of phone downloads I deal with, I had wrongly assured myself that I had looked through this entire download."

The officer has not been disciplined but is not currently working on sexual assault investigations, Commander Smith said. He added: "That is not to say we don't have faith in him as an investigator. He made an error, and we should have systems in place to address human error when it occurs."

"The amount of cases he (the officer in charge) was investigating at the time, he feels, was a contributing factor to the mistake he made, compounded by the lack of recording and mistakes in the system."

Mr Allan said : "I hope somewhere down the line there are consequences and lessons are learnt. I don't want one person being a scapegoat. There are other cases that have been dropped."

The review stated: "There is no evidence that the phone download was withheld deliberately by the OIC (officer in the case) or CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) prosecutors."

"The disclosure problems in this case were caused by a combination of error, lack of challenge, and lack of knowledge."

Commander Smith said: "Mr Allan received a personal apology from us both and I was really pleased to have that opportunity to meet with him face-to-face, allow him to read the report and apologise for the errors that were made."

Scotland Yard revealed it is now reviewing 600 cases of rape and sexual assault which are awaiting trial, with thousands more under review nationally, the CPS said.

Mr Smith said: "We have moved in 120 officers to assist with the review of the 600 cases we have which are post-charge at the moment."

Ms Lindley said: "The 600 cases live in the system presently are still being reviewed. That process has not yet finished."

"During the review some cases have given cause for concern. Some cases are discontinued in the normal course of events."

The review recommended that:
  • Police and CPS develop a 'Disclosure Improvement Plan' to work out how evidence can be best analysed.
  • A national protocol for the examination of digital media.
  • Provide more training to all police officers on the issue.
  • Train a team of accredited 'police specialist disclosure experts' for each force and so-called 'Disclosure Champions' in the CPS;
  • Appoint a Chief Officer in charge of disclosure for Scotland Yard.
Mr Allan previously said he was 'dragged through hell' for two years after police failed to provide the messages proving his innocence to his defence team. Telling of the moment he was told the case had collapsed, he previously said: "I was speechless and then I just started screaming the whole house down."

He said of his accuser's claims: "I think it started with a little white lie she told to a friend and her boyfriend at the time."

"But it completely spiralled out of control and it became a story she had to stick to. She completely lost control of what happened."

"I would say that the two people she had told this lie to added fuel to the fire to the point where she couldn't go back on it."


The prosecutor in the case, Jerry Hayes, said he went to the officer in charge of the case after the trial had started and discovered the existence of a disk of the woman's messages.

Mr Hayes said the officer told him it was 'not disclosable' as it contained 'very personal matters'.

But when the prosecution and defence lawyers saw the messages they realised they 'blew the case out of the water'.

Mr Hayes said after the case collapsed: "If they had not been seen this boy faced 12 years in prison and on the sex offenders' register for life with little chance of appeal. This was a massive massive miscarriage of justice, which thank heavens was avoided."
 

Karl0024

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Mr Hayes said the officer told him it was 'not disclosable' as it contained'very personal matters'.
This statement alone should see this man go to prison for CPJ.

600 cases under review by Scotland Yard and 5 major recommendations and they're still saying that false SA allegations are extremely rare. Smh.
 

Patrick

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Mr Hayes said the officer told him it was 'not disclosable' as it contained'very personal matters'.
This statement alone should see this man go to prison for CPJ.

600 cases under review by Scotland Yard and 5 major recommendations and they're still saying that false SA allegations are extremely rare. Smh.
agreed - it shows incompetence at basic comprehension, corruption at a blatant level - or both.
 
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