Leak row' police chief hits out at press critics

The chief constable at the centre of a row over a controversial leak inquiry has hit back at his press critics.

Ten journalists in North Wales sent a protest petition to Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom after police seized leaked documents from freelance Elwyn Roberts. The documents contained allegations about bullying within the police force.

Roberts was also asked to provide a DNA sample as part of the leak inquiry – which he refused to do.

Agency journalist Derek Bellis organised the protest petition, which likened Brunstrom’s action to those of the regime in Zimbabwe.

The chief constable said this week in a letter to Bellis: “Leaks spurred by malice or vendetta are insidious.”

He said: “You have referred to Zimbabwe more than once in relation to this matter. I presume that you are not a frequent visitor and therefore your views on that state will have been formed principally from media reports.

“Some of these reports will be fair, some will be misleading and some will be fabricated. Whatever the reality is in Zimbabwe, can you tell the difference from your vantage point in Rhos on Sea? “Unfortunately, the people of North Wales are faced daily and weekly with a similar dilemma in relation to their own country.

“North Wales deserves integrity within its police force and its newspapers. I am doing my bit.”

He signed his letter: “On behalf of the 680,000.”

Referring to Branstrom’s sign-off, Bellis said: “It’s the first time I have ever known a chief constable to claim to speak for every resident of North Wales. It is not particularly conciliatory and I wonder who is to decide whether leaks are ‘spurred by malice or vendetta’.

“I’m sure many councillors will be eager to use that as an excuse the next time a report of theirs is leaked.

“This entire episode provides a warning that we must always be on our guard. This is the first time such action has been taken in North Wales in at least 50 years.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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