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No further action to be taken following the death of Habib Ullah

08/08/2014

Habib Ullah, 39, tragically died on Thursday, 3 July 2008 in High Wycombe following a drugs search by Thames Valley Police (TVP) officers.

During the process of search, the police formed the view that Mr Ullah was attempting to conceal a package - believed, correctly, to be drugs - in his mouth. He was asked to remove it but declined to do so. A struggle ensued, culminating in Mr Ullah collapsing and dying.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Ullah's death concluded in 2009, without being referred to the CPS, but was re-opened in 2011 after new evidence emerged during police officers' accounts at his inquest.

As a result, the CPS was asked to consider whether there was sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution of five TVP officers, as well as in relation to a solicitor who provided advice to those officers in the immediate aftermath of Mr Ullah's death. A file was submitted to CPS in 2014, with the final pieces of evidence submitted to CPS in early June 2014.

The possible offences relating to the death of Mr Ullah considered by the CPS were manslaughter by gross negligence and misconduct in public office. Additionally, given that it became apparent at the inquest that the statements the police officers had originally provided to the IPCC were not the same as their first written accounts, and had received input from lawyers acting for the officers, CPS also considered the offences of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

A CPS spokesperson said: "The case has been thoroughly reviewed in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.  We carefully examined the evidence in this case, including evidence provided by experts in pathology, emergency medicine and policing techniques and accounts from eye witnesses. We also sought the views of an experienced Queen's Counsel.

As a result, the CPS has concluded that:

  • The evidence does not enable a causal link to be established, to the criminal standard, between the conduct of any of the officers and Mr Ullah's death. This causal link would, under law, be required to prosecute any individual for the offence of manslaughter by gross negligence.
  • The CPS cannot establish that any alleged breach of the officers' duties at the scene arose wilfully or deliberately and so a charge of misconduct in public office is not possible.
  • There is insufficient evidence to prove that the actions of the officers and solicitor, in altering the statements, tended to and were intended to pervert the course of justice. There is also insufficient evidence to prove that any officer wilfully made a material statement he knew to be false or did not believe to be true. The evidence showed that there was no attempt to conceal that statements had been altered, and indicated that any alterations were intended to give a more accurate version of events, rather than to be misleading.

The CPS spokesperson added: "Since there is insufficient evidence to give rise to a realistic prospect of convicting any person of any criminal offence arising from the circumstances of Mr Ullah's death, we have advised the IPCC that no further criminal action should be taken.

"Our thoughts remain with Mr Ullah's family at this difficult time for them and we fully understand that this is not the decision they will have wanted. We have written to them to explain our decision in detail and have offered to meet with them to discuss this matter should they so wish."

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are four national casework divisions: Central Fraud, Welfare Rural & Health, Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. A 'virtual' 14th Area is CPS Direct which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2013 we employed a workforce of approximately 6840 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2350 prosecutors and 4110 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  4. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.