IPCC Redaction Fail

The Independent Police Complaints Commission tried to cover up claims by a PCC that his medical condition meant he needed to eat and drink consistently, more than most people, and that this justified his high expenses claims. Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire Clive Grunshaw made the suggestions in explanation of curious features in his expenses claims, yet this critical part of the report was redacted by the IPCC despite laws requiring its publication. This information has come to light because the IPCC redacted the report incompetently, forcing them to withdraw, amend and reissue the report. This is all the more embarrassing as the report was submitted to the CPS to cover other mistakes in their investigation, and itself then needed to be corrected by yet another report. The IPCC has made no public acknowledgement of this further mistake, and it is not clear how many published IPCC reports in other investigations have been redacted in the same ineffective way.

The original version of the “addendum report” has been saved on Scribd by a TopOfTheCops reader here, and can be compared with the current IPCC version which is here. Ironically, the way the IPCC corrected the redactions made them look different, which drew the attention of some other eagle-eyed readers to see the flaw, and read the concealed text. All you have to do in the original version is select the redacted text, and copy and paste to your heart's content.

This raises questions about the competence of the IPCC, the conclusions in their report, whether they are at all committed to following the law, and whether they have probed the evident tensions in the explanation provided by Mr Grunshaw for the size of his claims.

The material is important for considering one important aspect of Mr Grunshaw's claims – his tendency to submit claim after claim, year after year, at the maximum possible level despite rules that said he could only claim what he had actually spent on food and drink.

Even in the artificially limited period considered by the IPCC, Mr Grunshaw submitted over 100 maximum subsistence claims in a row for just one of the three organisations he was claiming from, each of which could only have been legitimate if on each occasion he spent at least the maximum amount that he claimed or more . Those amounts were usually around £11.60, but often over £23, and sometimes with other claims on the same day from another authority . That's a lot of food and drink.

The redactions in the report seek to conceal the mystery reasons why Mr Grunshaw says he :-

  • doesn't have breakfast at home, but leaves home hours before meetings to arrive in good time and then have breakfast. (Paragraph 33). If this behaviour was necessary then it would allow him to claim the cost of breakfast on his expenses, whereas breakfast taken at home could not be claimed. It would also make his time away from home longer, making him able to claim higher maximum amounts from higher expenses bands.
  • Likes to return home to Fleetwood between meetings (Paragraph 36). Where Mr Grunshaw had a meeting in Preston in the morning for the County Council or Police Authority, and another in the afternoon for the other Authority he frequently submitted claims to both bodies for mileage and for food and drink. It seems odd to spend taxpayer's money and a couple of hours in the car on a 46-mile round trip just to fill the space between meetings, but that could seem reasonable if it was medically necessary. The report doesn't explore the fact that he could then have lunch at home and would not be entitled to put it on his expenses.
  • “would have to buy lots of sandwiches, coffees, snacks and cold drinks to eat at appropriate times during the day.” Paragraph 563.

All that information was never redacted, and the IPCC had already openly mentioned that Mr Grunshaw had two medical conditions in their first report, at paragraphs 68 to 69, 74 and 75. The information that they were trying to conceal with these redactions was not that Mr Grunshaw had a medical condition but that he used it as the justification for each of these suggested behaviours, in an attempt to explain the size of his expenses claims.

The report does not explore any tension between Mr Grunshaw saying he has to eat and drink consistently while simultaneously saying that he is able to get up from a night's sleep and then wait until he had finished the morning commute before having breakfast.

The IPCC is legally bound to publish this information – they can only redact it for the reasons in Regulation 33 (1) a & b of the relevant regulations. I can't see this being about national security, or crime prevention, and given they had already openly mentioned the medical condition I can't see why redacting this information could be necessary or proportionate. But then that's the law, and the IPCC are a law unto themselves, and apparently a little redaction-happy.

Some people think this investigation was a whitewash, but the IPCC seems to prefer black.

And we're not done yet!



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