MPs demand answers over mole hunt fiasco

Two North Wales MPs, both barristers, are furious about the fiasco
of the “mole hunt” case in which a leaked document was seized by police
from the Mold office of freelance journalist Elwyn Roberts of Dee News.

The
case collapsed after the evidence of the first witness (Press Gazette ,
14 January), and the MPs want to know why controversial chief constable
Richard Brunstrom persisted with the inquiry.

It is estimated that the legal costs alone are more than £150,000, apart from the cost of the police investigation.

Gareth
Thomas, Labour MP for Clwyd West, is writing to the Director of Public
Prosecutions to ask why the case went ahead. “It seems to me and many
others that this case had more to do with internal politics at North
Wales police than with justice and genuine public interest,” he said.

Elfyn
Llwyd, MP, leader of Plaid Cymru in the Commons, had pleaded with
Brunstrom to drop the so-called “mole hunt”. Now he wants to know why
the case went ahead and whether guidelines about the possibility of
success were ever considered.

Llwyd said: “If they had heeded me
when I had urged the police to draw a line under this inquiry, hundreds
of thousands of pounds would have been saved.”

In a statement
Brunstrom said: “The leak of a confidential report in such an
underhanded way was cynical, malevolent and a serious criminal offence.

“The
purpose of the investigation was, and is, to identify the culprit and
to protect the integrity of North Wales police and its authority.

“The
force has acted not as an attack against the press or any individual,
but in the interests of the public. It will continue to deal with the
matter on that basis. Further comment is not appropriate at this stage.”

Retired
chief superintendent Peter Bolton, of Abergele, had denied a charge of
misconduct in public office at Chester crown court. He is assistant
clerk to the North Wales Police Authority, and was accused of sending a
document into complaints of bullying to Dee News. The document was
seized in a raid on the news agency’s office.

The case was thrown
out after North Wales Police Authority clerk Kelvin Dent – the first
witness – told the court that North Wales police was “a leaky
organisation” and it was possible copies could have been made of the
report and that other people had seen it.

Dent told the jury that
it was known even before the leaked report was published that the
media, including the BBC and two national papers, were aware that
complaints had been made.

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