Elfyn Llwyd MP questions South Wales Police appointment

Nikki Holland reported on South Wales Police's role in the miscarriage of justice

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A senior Welsh MP is to write to the Home Secretary questioning South Wales Police's choice of assistant chief constable.

Elfyn Llwyd asks if it was appropriate that Nikki Holland was given the job while a report into an investigation she led has not yet been published.

It looked at South Wales Police's role in one of Britain's worst miscarriages of justice.

The force said her work on it ended two years before she applied for the post.

Three men from Cardiff spent a decade in jail after being wrongly convicted of killing newsagent Phillip Saunders in the Canton area of the city in 1987.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) set-up Operation Resolute in 2010 in response to claims from one of the wrongly convicted men that evidence was fabricated by a South Wales Police officer.

A year later, Nikki Holland, then a detective superintendent with Merseyside Police, was selected by the IPCC to take over the investigation, which has now been completed.

Control over publication of the operation's report lies with South Wales Police.

In February, the force said it would publish the report "in as much detail as possible" once it had been signed off by the IPCC.

It will be submitted for sign-off in the next few weeks.

'Something odd'

Plaid Cymru MP Mr Llwyd said appointing Ms Holland as assistant chief constable before publishing the report was a "curious situation" that requires explanation.

He says he is writing to the Home Secretary to ask whether Ms Holland's appointment was appropriate.

He said there was "something odd" that a person who led a very far-reaching and important report into a miscarriage of justice by South Wales Police suddenly becomes one of its most senior officers before its publication.

"Secondly, I've asked the Home Secretary...to ensure the report is published fully and urgently or alternatively that she can explain fully and urgently what is the true reason for any further delay," he said.

In 2009, Ms Holland was promoted to superintendent at Merseyside Police and later began working on overseeing the operation.

South Wales Police deputy chief constable Matt Jukes said: "Following a thorough and robust investigation, this work was completed in April 2012 around two years before Ms Holland applied for her current position".

Philip Saunders Philip Saunders died after being robbed of his takings from his city centre newsagents

Newsagent Mr Saunders died after being hit over the head and robbed outside his home.

Three men - Michael O'Brien who was then 20, and Ellis Sherwood and Darren Hall who were 19 - were convicted of his murder in 1988.

They spent 11 years in prison until their convictions were overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Appeal judges ruled that a confession by Darren Hall was unreliable because he suffered from a personality disorder.

'Open and transparent'

Mr O'Brien has always insisted the prosecution was malicious and claimed that evidence was fabricated by a police officer, who is now retired.

South Wales Police has always insisted that all officers on the investigation acted in good faith.

Following requests from BBC Wales to see the Operation Resolute report, South Wales Police Chief Constable Peter Vaughan said in February it was essential there was transparency.

"South Wales Police prides itself on being an open and transparent organisation and it remains our intention to publish this report in as much detail as possible," he said.

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