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Jailed Met Police officers' drugs cases may be reviewed

Stephen Lawrence
Image caption Neil Putnam's allegations in the Stephen Lawrence case were found to be unsubstantiated

Three ex-Met Police officers jailed for drug offences could have their cases reconsidered by the Court of Appeal because of questions over the "credibility" of a fellow officer.

Thomas Kingston, Thomas Reynolds and Terence O'Connell were jailed in 2000.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission found Neil Putnam, who gave evidence against them, made unsubstantiated claims in the Stephen Lawrence case.

There was a risk his evidence could not be relied upon in other cases, it said.

The convicted former officers all worked in the Met's South East Regional Crime Squad (SERCS).

Two other police officers from the squad were cleared of drugs charges in 2011 at the Appeal Court.

The CCRC concluded Mr Putnam had made unsubstantiated allegations about police corruption in the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation, and there was a risk his evidence could not be relied upon in other cases.

It said there was a "real possibility" the Appeal Court would quash the convictions of the three convicted former detectives.

'Substantial doubts'

It is the latest development in the long-running series of legal moves centred on the former SERCS, BBC home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds said.

A number of police officers working for the unit in the 1990s were convicted of dealing drugs seized from criminals, partly on evidence from Mr Putnam, a whistleblower who has made extensive allegations of police corruption.

In 2006 Mr Putnam told a BBC documentary called The Boys Who Killed Stephen Lawrence that corruption had even hampered the high-profile investigation into the murder of the teenager.

He told the programme one of the officers on the Lawrence case was corruptly linked to Clifford Norris, the father of David Norris, one of the suspects later convicted of Stephen's murder.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigated and found the allegation made by Mr Putnam could not be substantiated.

On Thursday the CCRC decided this finding amounted to new evidence that could affect the cases of the three former detectives whose convictions were also based on evidence from Neil Putnam.

'Whitewash' claim

The CCRC said it "raises substantial doubts as regards Mr Putnam's credibility and reliability and that, as a result, there is a real possibility that the Court of Appeal will conclude that Mr Putnam's evidence at Messrs Kingston, Reynolds and O'Connell's trial can no longer safely be relied upon and that their convictions are in consequence unsafe and should be quashed".

Kingston and Reynolds were convicted of conspiracy to supply amphetamines and jailed for three-and-a-half years.

O'Connell was convicted of perverting the course of justice and given a two-year sentence.

Their appeals were dismissed but now their cases are expected to go to the Court of Appeal. The three men are no longer in prison.

The CCRC said it had not specifically investigated the allegation of corruption in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry but its review of the detectives' cases had found nothing that supported Mr Putnam's allegations.

Mr Putnam told the BBC last year he regarded the IPCC investigation of his claims as a "whitewash" and continued to stand by his allegations.

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