'Failures' in Cleveland Police kidnapping inquiry

Jacqui Cheer
Image caption Cleveland Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer said the force had "moved on"

A confidential report into a kidnapping investigation by Cleveland Police found "a host of investigative failures".

The events which led to the acquittal at a retrial of Bronson Tyers over the kidnapping of a businessman in 2004 were looked at by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The report, seen by BBC Inside Out, said "some of the basic principles of investigation…were flawed".

Cleveland Police Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer accepted there had been failings.

The kidnapping inquiry was the start of a decade-long saga which ultimately cost Cleveland Police more than £500,000 in damages paid to a Teesside lawyer.

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Mr Tyers was jailed for 12 years in 2006 for the kidnap of businessman Tony Pattison in Seaton Carew in 2004. The conviction was later overturned on appeal and he was acquitted in the retrial. Three other men were found guilty.

Inside Out has learned it took detectives five years to interview the owner of a BMW car linked to the kidnapping, according to the IPCC's report into the investigation.

It was bought for cash just days before the crime took place - but by the time the police interviewed the vendor he could no longer identify the purchaser.

The BMW was then involved in a road rage incident in Stockton. The police logged the number - but the team investigating the kidnapping failed to interview the drivers involved.

Two further incidents of road rage involving the BMW were not investigated by detectives.

Image caption James Watson was paid damages

The IPCC report is scathing in its assessment of the work of the police team describing "a host of investigative failures"; "mistakes, incompetence and alleged dishonesty" and said "some of the basic principles of investigation...were flawed".

Earlier this year the BBC's Newsnight programme revealed the police had paid damages to James Watson, Mr Tyers' solicitor.

The solicitor was suspected of being part of a conspiracy to make witnesses change their story ahead of the kidnapping retrial.

Following the retrial Mr Watson was arrested and held in custody for 30 hours but, despite a two-year investigation, never charged with any offence.

The force admitted falsely imprisoning the lawyer and his family when he was arrested in 2009, wrongful interference with his belongings and trespass. It agreed to remove any vestige of suspicion against him from police records.

Although the IPCC's report into the kidnapping investigation was completed last year it has still not been published.

An IPCC statement said: "There is a second ongoing managed investigation into complaints made by Mr Watson on behalf of his client, Bronson Tyers.

"As these complaints in part cover the same matters investigated in the first investigation it would not be appropriate to publish the findings in full until that second investigation is complete."

Image caption Mr Riordan has since retired from the force

'Honesty and integrity'

Ms Cheer, who was not in charge of the force during the investigation, accepted the failings.

She said: "When people get to see the report they'll see that there were mistakes made, lines of inquiry that were missed.

"There were other things that could have been done. An expectation is that the person in charge of those investigations thinks widely and tries to make sure that they cover all of those angles and the IPCC report suggests they didn't."

She said the force had "learned the lessons" and "moved on". The force has not commented further on any action it has taken as a result.

Ms Cheer said she believed she had "stopped the rot" and done everything "to make sure that the things that were not right have been changed".

The detective who led the investigations was Tony Riordan, who has since retired from the force. He said he had made a formal complaint about the IPCC investigation.

"I strongly refute that I acted with anything other than professionalism, honesty and integrity in Operations Bungalow and Atterbury," he said.

"I have made a formal complaint about the conduct of the IPCC investigation carried out by West Yorkshire Police and as that complaint is ongoing it is inappropriate for me to comment any further.

"I cannot speak for Cleveland Police but I personally had no desire to target or ruin Mr Watson or anyone else and strongly refute any suggestion that I had. I simply followed what was a complex evidential trail and presented my findings to the CPS."

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