Friday, 7 August 2015

Willie McRae Part 33: Delamore’s FOI Victory ….


….  shatters the credibility of Police Scotland! poses important questions for Police Scotland.

Perhaps not.  It is Police Scotland’s response to the victory, rather than the victory itself, which shatters their own credibility asks the questions. 

I have quite deliberately left my original words visible because I am finding it very difficult to maintain the neutral stance which is crucial if I am to make the most of the evidence available.
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Before I go further, I must thank and congratulate Paul Delamore for the work he has put into this subject but especially for making the FOI case to the Information Commissioner which led her to decide that Police Scotland was to release the information which he had requested.

I must also point out that Paul has written about Police Scotland’s response here and it is from the information in his post that I write today.

Well done and thanks, Paul!

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I wrote about the background to this victory here.

Firstly, let’s look at Paul’s questions and Police Scotland’s response and then I’ll focus on two questions and their respective responses.

It is worth remembering that twice Police Scotland refused to release any information to Paul and it is only because Paul won his appeal to the Information Commissioner that Police Scotland were forced to release the necessary information.

P33 I1
[Paul’s questions in black and Police Scotland’s responses in blue]

You can read Paul’s thoughts on all 6 responses but I want to focus on only two: questions 5 and 4.

Delamore’s Question 5
P33 I1
Let me explain why I believe Paul asked this particular question but first I need to give a little background. Apologies if you know this already.

[Note: you will notice throughout this post that I am not definite about Delamore’s thinking or motives. Although he replied helpfully to my first two emails in April, he has neither replied nor acknowledged any email since, even when an email were congratulatory. I work within that constraint.]

Macrae and his car were found off-road during the morning of Saturday 6 April 1985.  He was taken to hospital, in Inverness and then in Aberdeen. His car was removed from the site and was in the West End garage in Fort Augustus at 3.30pm on the Saturday afternoon.  That time is confirmed by a signed, dated and timed police document.  Delamore knows of this timing. From information revealed under Question 1 we know that the car was removed to the garage before there was any knowledge that Macrae had been shot. 

For many years there have been rumours that, having been removed, the car was returned to the crash site, possibly so that the car could be photographed in situ.  As far as I am aware this rumour has never been confirmed or denied by the authorities.  Delamore and Semple in their recent, April 2015, Scotland on Sunday article claim to have three witnesses who state that the car was at the crash site on Sunday 7 April.

I think that Delamore, already knowing that the car was removed on the Saturday, strongly believed that the car was returned to the crash site on Sunday 7 April.  Therefore, I believe Delamore carefully and deliberately asked when the car was removed on Sunday 7 April.  I am convinced that Police Scotland would know the thinking behind Delamore’s question BUT Police Scotland ignored his question and answered a different one.

Note again how Police Scotland responded,
Records indicate that the car was moved some time between 2.00pm and 3.30 pm on 6 April 1985.
There is no mention of Sunday 7 April.  We already knew the car was removed on Saturday.  What we wanted to know was about the Sunday.  A straightforward response would have addressed Delamore’s question directly.

If, once the car was removed on the Saturday afternoon, it was never returned to the site Police Scotland could have said,
The car was not at the site on Sunday 7 April and, therefore, could not have been removed on that day.  Records indicate that the car was moved some time between 2.00pm and 3.30 pm on 6 April 1985..
Would this not have been a normal way to answer if the original premise [once the car was removed on the Saturday afternoon, it was never returned to the site]  were correct? 

BUT they didn’t.

Their answer leaves unaddressed totally the issue in which Delamore was interested.

Why would Police Scotland do this?

Even if the original premise were incorrect might we not have expected Police Scotland to have replied as I suggest a few lines above up?

No!

A public body might omit the whole truth in an answer; they may avoid answering a particular question but I believe that telling an outright lie is far too big a risk for any to take.

Therefore, if Police Scotland knew that the car was returned to the site and then removed again on Sunday 7 April they could NOT say otherwise.

Therefore, their only two options were to tell the truth or to side-step the question.

Police Scotland side-stepped Delamore’s question BUT this does not mean that the car was on site on Sunday and was removed later that day.  We might think this, believe this, be certain of this but we do not know why they avoided the simple question.

That Police Scotland chose to answer in the way they did reflects very poorly on them.  They have allowed doubts over the investigation and the openness of the authorities to grow when a simple answer would have helped their public image.

Delamore’s Question 4
P33 I1
Again, I can’t know Delamore’s exact reasoning for asking this question but I would imagine that it is aimed at uncovering whether or not the car was returned to the site.  We know the car was in Fort Augustus by 3.30pm on Saturday, 6 April.  Therefore, if the photographs were taken of the car in its original unmoved position then they must have been taken BEFORE 3.30pm.

If, however, the photographs were taken after 3.30pm on the Saturday, whether it be the Saturday, Sunday or other day, then the car was returned to the site.

When I read that Delamore had won his appeal to the Information Commissioner, I believed that we would know for certain if the car had ever been returned to the site but still we await clarity.

For his other questions Police Scotland has given either a specific time or a range of times between which an event occurred …. but not here. 

Police Scotland’s response is mind-boggling in its ambiguity!
Records indicate that the photographs were taken some time after 1.50pm on 6 April 1985.

What might their answer mean?

Is there confirmation that the photographs were taken on Saturday 6 April?  No!

We know they were NOT taken BEFORE 1.50pm on Saturday.  That is all we can say with certainty.  Noting else is ruled out. 

There is no certainty about the day.  Any time on Sunday or Monday, 7 and 8 April respectively, fit with the answer given.

There is no certainty about the month nor ridiculously about even the year.

The photographs were published in 2005 and so we know they were taken before then but the answer doesn’t rule out 2015 or even 2085.  This is obviously not credible.

Are Police Scotland really saying that there is nothing in their files which gives a latest possible date and time for the photographs?

Perhaps their answer is simply badly constructed and they meant that the photographs were taken on the Saturday at some time after 1.50pm.  That is possible but we can’t put that meaning into their answer.  We can’t put specificity into a vague reply.

But even if they meant that the photographs were taken on the Saturday at some time after 1.50pm their answer would be incomplete.  There is evidence which they have ignored.

Remember the reply to Delamore’s 5th question,
Records indicate that the car was moved some time between 2.00pm and 3.30 pm on 6 April 1985.” [Emphasis added]
The car was NOT at the crash site after 3.30pm on Saturday UNLESS it was returned to the scene.

If the car was NOT returned to the scene, the ONLY available slot for the photographs was between 1.50pm and 3.30pm on Saturday.

If the photographs were NOT taken within that slot then the car was returned to the scene

BUT there is no mention of this.

We have vagueness where we should have clarity.

We have doubt where we should have certainty.

That Police Scotland chose to answer in the way they did reflects very poorly on them.  They have allowed doubts over the investigation and the openness of the authorities to grow when a simple answer would have helped their public image.


Finally, let me recap where I believe we are after looking at only two of Delamore’s questions.

We know:
- the car was removed from the site between 2.00pm and 3.30pm on Saturday 6 April
- the photographs were taken some time after 1.50pm on Saturday 7 April
- Police Scotland did not answer Delamore’s 5th question but did answer a question of their own choosing
- Police Scotland left open-ended the timeframe for the photos
- Police Scotland gave specific times or time ranges for other events
- there is an unspecified event in the records which allows the police to state that the photos were taken after 1.50pm on the Saturday
- there is an unspecified event in the records which allows the police to state that the car was removed after 2pm on the Saturday

BUT we do NOT know
- if the car was returned to the scene
- the day on which the photos were taken
- what are the unspecified events (from above)
- why the answer to Delamore’s 4th question is as vague as it is when other evidence is available
- why Police Scotland did not answer Delamore’s 5th question but did answer a question of their own choosing

You may think that
- Police Scotland have answered the questions as fully as they could
- the lack of clarity is unintentional
- Police Scotland will contact Delamore with clarification
- when Police Scotland reply to my FOI they will remove all doubt
- the lack of clarity is deliberate
- Police Scotland did not want to say that the car was returned to the scene and that, therefore, the lack of clarity was necessary
I couldn’t possibly tell you what I think.

I must remain neutral.


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email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or
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© CalumCarr 2015
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