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Police whistleblower who tipped-off regional daily sues force

clevelandA former police sergeant who anonymously tipped-off a regional daily about racism within his force is to sue his former employers.

Mark Dias called the Northern Echo four years ago to reveal that an internal equality review had uncovered elements of institutional racism within Cleveland Police.

Mr Dias, who later left the force, claims that after the paper ran the story he became the subject of an investigation which included accessing his telephone data, and those of journalists, a Police Federation representative and a solicitor.

He is now suing his former force for misfeasance in public office, claiming that he was the victim of a campaign by its Professional Standards Department.

The case comes amid serious concerns among journalists, lawyers and free speech campaigners at the ease with which police have been able to unmask confidential sources by using powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa).

The then Coalition Government changed the law last year so that instead of being able to authorise their own requests for telecoms data so as to identify sources, police had to use the procedure detailed in Pace, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and apply to a court for a production order, which would give journalists and news organisations the opportunity to oppose such applications at a court hearing.

But provisions in the Investigatory Powers Bill could change the system so that Judicial Commissioners could authorise applications for requests for communications intended to identify sources with the journalist or news organisation having to be notified that the application was being made.

Publishers, editors, news organisations and the National Union of Journalists have all said the new Bill does not go far enough and offers virtually no meaningful protection for journalistic sources.

Ms Dias told the Echo that the basis of his claim is that after blowing the whistle on institutional racism at Cleveland Police he became the victim of a campaign by Cleveland Police’s professional standards department.

“They fabricated an investigation into me based on the conversation I had with The Northern Echo, which involved the use of surveillance, but there was never any substance to that allegation and they have subsequently confirmed that they always knew there were never any documents leaked to The Northern Echo,” he told the newspaper.

“Since then there have been several whistleblowers come forward from professional standards making statements through solicitors that there was a suspicion in the force that all their Asian officers were corrupt and that there was an operation carried out against them, which targeted all Asian officers, starting from 2002.”

Mr Dias said he left the force as a result of the treatment he received.

A Cleveland Police spokesman confirmed that a former officer was bringing a civil claim, but said the force was unable to comment further.

“We have received concerns about police operations which are alleged to have been disproportionately focused on BME (black and minority ethnic) officers,” he told the newspaper.

“We have been clear to our staff and communities that there is no ongoing operation of this nature as was suggested within the Home Affairs Select Committee.

“We are conducting a thorough assessment into whether, as alleged, Cleveland Police has ever, in the past, undertaken any operation which could fit this description and we are keeping the IPCC informed throughout.”

4 comments

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  • June 29, 2016 at 12:53 pm
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    It beggars belief that this totally dysfunctional and discredited police force has not been disbanded.

    Based on professional and personal dealings with this force over more than 20 years, the standards of behaviour of all ranks is shocking.

    I like to base my actions on evidence and observation. To that end I’ve always drummed it into my three children to NEVER trust a Cleveland Police officer. For a reasonably educated, middle-aged, law-abiding ex-editor to adopt such a stance shows how bad this force is.

    A sacked chief constable, corrupt senior officers and a jailed police authority chairman are some of the many instances of Cleveland Police behaviour falling well below expected standards. Why aren’t local newspaper editors shouting about it as I used to almost every week?

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  • June 29, 2016 at 1:21 pm
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    What Harry said. Not only do the public in Cleveland consider ‘their’ police force to be more corrupt than that of a banana republic, but the neighbouring forces try to have as little to do with them as possible. The only reason that Cleveland hasn’t been split into North Yorkshire and Durham is that neither is willing to take on Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar or Stockton.

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  • June 29, 2016 at 1:31 pm
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    Some individuals employed by Cleveland have been guilty of wrong doing and we are talking about a force that has been badly run and managed, but to suggest every single officer cannot be trusted is a step too far Harry.

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  • June 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm
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    No more snappers. As I said in my comments, my assertions regarding Cleveland Police are based on personal experiences and professional dealings with them over a number of years. I’ve crossed sword with dozens and crossed paths with hundreds. Any I’d trust? Not one.

    As in any organisation it all filters down from the top.

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