FAMILY PRESS RELEASE 25.05.09
Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah died on Thursday 3rd July 2008 during a stop and search by Police Officers on a vehicle in a car park in High Wycombe at approximately 7.15pm. He was 39yrs old and leaves behind a young family.
On the 19th of May the family of Habib Ullah and campaign members attended the High Court for a Judicial Review Permission Hearing to challenge the IPCC’s decision which appeared to downgrade the investigation of the Police officers who had been present at the scene from a criminal investigation to a misconduct investigation. The Judicial Review brought by Habib’s widow Mussarat Habib was sought to overturn this.
An early Judicial Review was sought to question why the IPCC had not seen fit to question and interview the officers concerned under a section 9 caution, which would have meant that the officers would be required to be questioned for a criminal investigation.
The fact that the IPCC determined an ‘oldstyle’ caution and questioned the officers under a rudimentary employment disciplinary interview allowed the officers full access to all statements either prior or during the interview stage. Both the judge and the family’s barrister commented upon that although the initial witness statements submitted by the officers were voluntary, they nevertheless conferred together and then submitted their statements. His family are concerned over the level of first aid treatment [virtually none] given to Habib that evening.
Witness statements including those of the paramedics that attended the scene, state that CPR had not been administrated to Mr Ullah. In their own statements, the officers could not determine whether they had administrated any CPR. Additionally they are concerned that the call to the paramedic unit was not one of red or high alert, it was received as an amber alert and the police officer had only stated that someone had gone limp. There was no mention upon arrival to the paramedics of any suspected blockages to the airwaves. The family were aware of that Habib had a drugs habit but were not aware of the full extent or entirety of his habit or any previous involvement with the police.
The judge also referred to the ‘strangulation’ remarked upon by the witnesses and the Barrister Henrietta Hill commented upon a comment by one of the officers, who in his own admission stated that he had hoped that he had not applied ‘too much pressure’.
The practices employed by the officers were now being scrutinised by independent force restraints experts as instructed by the IPCC and equally the family were also awaiting their outcome from their restraints experts.
The judge also stated that the fundamental statutory duty of the IPCC was to respect the public’s confidence in it and as such it had to ensure a robust and rigorous investigation. The judge went on to state that the IPCC would need to provide the family a number of reassurances that any of the family’s misgivings, concerns and further evidence would be a thoroughly investigated.
As the judge felt that at this stage it was too early for the court to be involved in what he saw was an interregnum period, the IPCC’s investigation needed to be completed before the court would consider any need or grounds for involvement.
Although the Judicial Review was turned down, the Judge – Mr Justice Collins recognised the concerns the family had about the IPCC investigation. He was critical of the decision making by IPCC investigator Mr Niblo. He said that Mr Niblo’s early decision that there was not a causal link between Habib’s death and the incident with the police officers was “not on its face appropriate” and “not one in law that he was entitled to take”.
The judge asked the IPCC to give assurances that no criminal offences have been ruled out yet in the investigation and the IPCC gave the judge and the family that assurance. While the judge thought that the legal challenge to the way the investigation is being carried out is premature he fully recognised the family’s concerns. The family’s faith in the IPCC has been damaged but the family hope that in the light of the fresh assurances that there will now be a more rigorous investigation.
See newspaper cuttings – Family’s death probe fight goes to court | High Court bid to restart police investigation fails