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POLICE DATA PROTECTION

Police data protection probe- spend £500,000 in five years – and case falls flat

AFTER 35 court appearances in a case estimated to have cost Police Scotland over £500,000, Amanda Daly and Andrew Reid were acquitted.

Cleared: But lawyer said ordeal has taken its toll on Andrew Reid and Amanda Daly

POLICE Scotland has been accused of wasting over £500,000 in a failed five-and-a-half year attempt to prosecute two of its own officers.

Constables Amanda Daly and Andrew Reid were charged with breaching data protection laws in 2009.

But after 35 court appearances in a case estimated to have cost Police Scotland over £500,000 the pair were acquitted earlier this month.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court Sheriff William Totten questioned why the officers – who’s lives have been destroyed by the ordeal – were ever charged in the first place.

He said: “I can find little…which would ultimately prove beyond reasonable doubt that they knowingly or recklessly accessed any electronic systems.”

He went on to state that he was not sure “why it was ever felt necessary to bring criminal charges in this case.”

And in a leaked letter to Chief Constable Stephen House, Daly’s lawyer Aamer Anwar has blasted the police’s handling of the case and called for an immediate review of Data Protection breach investigations.

He said: “We are shocked at the manner in which the police investigations are being conducted and the treatment of the two officers which can only be described as tantamount to a ‘witch hunt’ over the course of 5 1/2 years.

“There are I understand many other police officers in similar situations who have been or are being subjected to similar prosecutions/investigations for breach of the Data Protection Act.

“Within Police Scotland there is the perception that there is no accountability or transparency of the Counter Corruption Unit, in that they are responsible for investigating complaints against themselves. It is hardly surprising then that ordinary police officers feel that they are a ‘law unto themselves’.

Scottish defence lawyer Aamer Anwar
Angry: Aamer Anwar wrote to House

Anwar alleges in the leaked letter that some officers had been pressurised into pleading guilty to criminal charges despite not having committed an offence.

It also said that while Daly was being investigated she was subjected to “bullying and humiliation at the hands of officers in the counter corruption unit.”

The pair were accused of illegally accessing police computer records on October 2009 concerning a case in which they themselves had been attacked while off duty and carried out an arrest.

At the time of the alleged offences Daly and Reid were in a relationship and Daly was pregnant with the couple’s child.

But Anwar claimed that as a result of the case “both officers’ personal lives and their relationship were destroyed”.

He added: “Their entire social circle broke down and many of their friends who were serving police officers refused to speak to them as they were instructed by the force to break all communication.”

POLICE DATA PROTECTION PROBE COST

The lawyer claimed the case had cost over £500,000 including around £120,000 in sick pay for each officer as a result of their health being affected by the allegations.

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland yesterday confirmed the handling of the case was being investigated following the acquittal.

She said: “We can confirm two police officers were the subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal following the result of the associated court trial.

“The circumstances are now being considered by the Deputy Chief Constable and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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