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CPS DECIDES NO CHARGES TO BE BROUGHT FOLLOWING DEATH OF HABIB ULLAH AFTER STOP AND RESTRAINT BY POLICE
Friday 8 August 2014
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has today announced that no charges are to be brought against Thames Valley police officers and their solicitor in the case of the death of Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah.
Habib Ullah, a 39 year old father of three, died when he was stopped and searched by police on 3 July 2008 in the Sharrow Vale area of High Wycombe. In the course of being forcibly restrained, Habib suffered a cardiac arrest. He was taken to hospital but attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.
An investigation into his death was carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which cleared the police of wrongdoing.
The inquest into his death began in December 2010 and police officers giving evidence admitted when questioned by the family’s barrister that they had taken out key passages from their statements on the advice of a Police Federation solicitor. Consequently, the coroner decided to discharge the jury.
Five police officers were interviewed by the IPCC under criminal caution. The solicitor advising the officers was also interviewed under criminal caution in relation to an offence relating to perverting the course of justice. The family have made a complaint about her conduct to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
In February 2014 (three years later), the IPCC finally formally referred the file to the CPS. The following charges were considered: Manslaughter by gross negligence; Misconduct in public office; S39 Assault; Acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice; Perjury.
Nasrit Mahmood, sister of Habib Ullah said:
“We are not happy that the CPS has decided not to charge those police officers who I believe were responsible for Habib's death. A healthy man dies at the hands of the police within minutes. Then at the inquest they are caught out withholding evidence in front of everyone including the coroner and jury. These police officers did not give a full account at the inquest. It is impossible for us to understand how the CPS have reached this decision. This is not justice for us and we will not give up until justice is served and that is a promise.”
Zia Ullah, Justice4Paps said:
“We are disappointed with this decision after having come so far, and despite clear discrepancies in the officers accounts at the inquest in December 2010 we are surprised that the CPS have decided there is insufficient evidence to prosecute the police officers involved in Habib's death and that it is not in the public interest to do so. The idea of a fresh inquest into my cousin’s death does not give us much hope given what happened at the last one.”
Helen Shaw, co-director of INQUEST said:
“This is a disappointing and worrying decision that undermines family and public confidence that police will be properly held to account. It has been a six year wait for the truth and justice so far, with the family being let down at nearly every turn. The delays in this case are unacceptable and it is to be hoped that the long overdue inquest will happen promptly and will be a thorough and honest investigation that establishes the truth about how Habib Ullah lost his life that day.”
Marian Ellingworth, solicitor for the family said:
“This is a very disappointing decision. The family have displayed great dignity and waited patiently for nearly four years since the inquest was adjourned in December 2010 only to be told there will be no prosecution. In my view, it exposes the failure of the criminal justice system to hold police officers to account and urgent reform is required, in particular of the manslaughter offences, so that the threshold for bringing prosecutions in such cases is more achievable. I will be advising my clients about potential remedies open to them and we will be meeting with the CPS and seeking a full explanation for their decision making.
“I am also very disappointed that the CPS has failed to charge the officers and solicitor for the significant changes made to their statements which were only admitted at the inquest. Such conduct by public servants under a duty to conduct themselves with integrity is highly reprehensible and it is to be regretted that the CPS does not consider that there is sufficient evidence to charge.”
INQUEST has been working with the family of Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah since his death in July 2008. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Marian Ellingworth from Tuckers solicitors and barrister Sean Horstead of Garden Court Chambers.
Notes to editors:
1. The Justice for Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah/Justice4Paps campaign was set up in July 2008 after the death of Habib during a routine stop and search in a car park in High Wycombe. So far the campaign in partnership with family members have organised thirteen vigils in the town centre/Police station, a demonstration through the town, five public meetings, and attended national and regional demonstrations against deaths in custody. For further information please click here
2. Contact information:
Zia Ullah, family contact : 07597873614
Saqib Deshmukh, Volunteer information worker: 07766464358
Marian Ellingworth, Tuckers solicitors: 020 7388 8333