Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, met on Thursday 7 January with the family of the late Kester David to apologise for shortcomings in their handling of the investigation following the discovery of his remains under a railway bridge in N13 on Wednesday, 7 July, 2010.
Public statement of mother and brother of the late Kester David
Response to apology from Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
We warmly welcomed the opportunity to meet Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, QPM, last week and receive his personal apology.
The apology was overdue, given that it was recommended by the IPCC in August 2014, but that does not make it any less welcome and it is particularly appreciated that Sir Bernard met us in person to do so.
Unfortunately, the apology we’ve received fails to go far enough in condemning the ‘catalogue of errors’ identified as far back as January 2012 by Inspector Casson when he examined the first investigation.
Sir Bernard refused to accept that the failings found by the MPS itself should have resulted in disciplinary proceedings.
If the signal goes out that such basic errors amount to no more than ‘unsatisfactory performance’ this gives a green light to dereliction of the most basic investigative duties.
It is therefore disappointing that Sir Bernard will not tell the investigators in his Department of Professional Standards (DPS) that the IPCC and the family were right to say that the 10 formal complaints upheld by the DPS were serious enough to prompt disciplinary action. However, the two officers in question had been allowed to retire (without the knowledge of ourselves and the IPCC).
We urge Sir Bernard to change his mind on this, so other families are more likely to be spared such misconduct in future – it is in the public interest for police staff to fully understand the importance of diligent investigation of all unexplained deaths of this kind and of treating families respectfully. (In fact, after our successful IPCC appeal, those officers should between them have faced disciplinary charges relating to 18 failures, 8 of them found by the IPCC on appeal.)
Sir Bernard has acknowledged that, under new rules, officers should not be able to retire while under disciplinary investigation for serious matters in future, but it is unforgivable that this was allowed to happen with these two officers. Hopefully, Sir Bernard can reassure complainants still waiting for investigations to finish under the old rules that they will not be cheated like we have been and he will ensure accountability is allowed to happen by blocking the retirement or resignation of all officers under investigation for serious matters.
We acknowledge the kindness, care and diligence in the last two plus years on the part of DCI Noel McHugh. And we take this opportunity to again appeal for anyone with any information about Kester’s death to contact DCI McHugh who has assured us he will look at anything new.
However, DCI McHugh has not been able to make up for the blatant racism that lead to the original officers devaluing Kester’s life and treating us so disrespectfully. Furthermore, while we are not critical of Operation Harworth (2012-2015), especially from when DCI McHugh became the SIO in 2013, that operation simply highlights what is possible and can never make up for the lost evidence and the failings of 2010.
It is for these reasons that we do not accept the conclusion that there was no third party involvement in the death of Kester David. For us, the death is not just ‘unexplained’ but remains suspicious and most likely relates to Kester being an informer, whatever the MPS say on that subject.
Finally, we now await Sir Bernard’s decision later this week on letting us see DCI McHugh’s report, so we can have closure on the investigation.
 Sir Bernard explained to us that he delayed his personal apology until now as he wanted to await the outcome of the second investigation into Kester’s death, Operation Harworth, which ended in November 2015.
 We were concerned about the gaps and errors in the evidence the police gave at the inquest in January 2011, but in reality if it was not for Inspector Casson’s 2012 report falling into our hands, we may never have learned of the full ‘catalogue of errors’.
The IPCC appeal decision re the family’s complaint can be provided on request. For this or any other information, please contact the family’s solicitor: Daniel Machover of Hickman & Rose, 0207 702 5334; 07773 341 096