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Last Updated: Friday, 27 June, 2003, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Supercop turned supergrass
Kevin Garner
Kevin Garner rose through the ranks to join the elite Flying Squad
The acquittal of four former Flying Squad detectives at the Old Bailey on Friday brought to an end Britain's biggest ever investigation into police corruption.

The officers were cleared of corruption charges when it was revealed a former colleague turned "supergrass" was too ill to give evidence.

However, in an investigation stretching back to January 1998, five members of the Flying Squad had earlier been jailed for siphoning off cash recovered from criminals.

Two of the jailed officers, Detective Constable Kevin Garner and Detective Constable Terence McGuinness, prompted the corruption inquiry after turning informant.

The investigation centred around a group of detectives based at Rigg Approach in Walthamstow, north east London.

'Secrecy and dishonesty'

When they arrested criminals, they siphoned off large percentages from the recovered proceeds of robberies.

Martin Heslop QC, who acted for Garner, said: "There existed within the Rigg Approach division of the Flying Squad what can only be described as a culture of corruption involving secrecy, camaraderie and dishonesty between the officers."

Garner, 41, had an exemplary record before he became involved in the maverick dealings at Rigg Approach.

Many officers were combining efficient police work with hard core corruption - that, I am afraid, was Rigg Approach
Judge Neil Denison
He joined the police as a 21-year-old - passing out as top recruit at Hendon police college in 1982 with the highest examination marks ever.

He joined the Flying Squad 10 years later as one of its youngest officers, but by the end of his first year with the squad, he had embarked on a spiral of corruption which eventually led him and fellow officers to the Old Bailey.

He was among a surveillance team which followed a target criminal to Brighton.

As a result, a raid on a jeweller's was intercepted.

At a de-briefing afterwards, Garner was given 200 by a colleague who told him: "There, that is a drink for you."

Seven-year jail terms

David Waters QC, a prosecutor in the case, said: "It illustrated how from very small beginnings, a pattern and culture of dishonesty develops."

Garner, who has subsequently been given a new identity in a witness protection programme, said he took the cash because he was beginning to be accepted by "good detectives" and was being brought into the fold.

Sir John Stevens
Sir John Stevens said "corruption will not be tolerated"
There followed a string of share-outs from successful operations.

In one such case, Garner received 15,000 - a tenth share of recovered proceeds from a Security Express robbery.

Three of his colleagues - Detective Inspector Frederick May, Detective Constable David Howell and Detective Sergeant Eamonn Harris - were sentenced to seven-year jail terms for taking part in that theft.

It was part of the anti-corruption investigation launched into the Metropolitan Police by their previous Commissioner, Lord Condon.

The former Common Serjeant of London, Judge Neil Denison, who dealt with the Rigg Approach case, said: "Many officers were combining efficient police work with hard core corruption - that, I am afraid, was Rigg Approach.

"It seems that those who thought themselves to be the elite of that squad were engaged in the corrupt activity."

Current Commissioner Sir John Stevens said: "Corruption will not be tolerated within the Metropolitan Police Service and this case demonstrates the MPS's commitment to target former officers who engage in similar activities as well as any corruption within the force itself."

Investigating the Flying Squad
27 Jun 03  |  London
Force sets up anti-corruption team
06 Jun 03  |  West Midlands
Met reveals corruption figures
28 Aug 02  |  England
Officers admit corruption charges
14 Oct 98  |  UK News

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