Misconduct in public office:
 withholding evidence from a parliamentary inquiry

Friday 5th January 2018 

by Anthony C Heaford
(c.2200 words -.20-minutes reading)


"Misconduct in public office is an offence at common law triable only on indictment. 
It carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It is an offence confined to those who are public office holders and is committed when the office holder acts (or fails to act) in a way that constitutes a breach of the duties of that office.“ 
 Advise from the Crown Prosecution Service


Based on evidence recorded in correspondence with Messrs  Francois, Hammond and Stewart MPs I can make the following charges against these alledged miscreants with confidence; they all wilfully behaved in breach of the duties assigned to them in the course of the public offices they held. Specifically:


That on 30th November 2013 Messrs Hammond & Francois MPs withheld critical evidence from the defence select committee (DSC) inquiry into the Taliban’s 14th September 2012 attack on camp Bastion’s airfield. 

That on 28th October 2015 Mr Stewart MP arbitrarily and unjustly dismissed valid evidence and witness submissions to the DSC. Mr Stewart did this with anecdotes and personal attacks on the witness.


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Evidence

This Ministry of Defence (MoD) correspondence copied below is from Messrs Francois and Hammond MPs via my constituency MP Graham Brady, dated 30th November 2013. When correlated to the evidence I'd submitted on 6th November 2013 and the declassified US Central Command attack inquiry report they refer to, this MoD letter proves that Hammond and Francois both wilfully withheld verifiable and critical evidence submissions from the DSC inquiry. 

The evidence I submitted directly contradicted the existing narrative of airfield security that summer and the subsequent version of events that both government ministers allowed to be passed off as fact to the inquiry, specifically: 

Appendix004a

Complicity in Production of a class A Drug

- the illegal opium harvesting besides camp Bastion airfield was characterised by Lt General Capewell as being ‘tolerated’ in his evidence to the DSC inquiry.
- I informed Merrs Hammond & Francois that British forces had in fact provided active protection for the opium harvesting from Afghan security forces.
- Merrs Hammond & Francois withheld my contradictory claims from the inquiry in a 
wilfull act of deceipt 

Endemic Security Failings

- concerns of lax British security were raised by US personnel before and after the attack but were dismissed by both nation’s inquiries as unfounded.
- My evidence submissions very specifically stated widely known and tolerated repeated security lapses as had been report by US personnel
- Merrs Hammond & Francois again withheld my contradictory claims from the inquiry in a wilfull act of deceipt 


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Details of the deception concerning our complicity in opium production:

Declassified US Investigation report:

”… the individuals that we interviewed consistently expressed concern about the vulnerability and security threat posed by the villages and poppy fields increasingly encroaching on the eastern and southeastern perimeter of Camp Bastion”
US Central Command


British Parliamentary Inquiry report:

“… Lieutenant General Capewell characterised the decision to allow poppy cultivation close to the perimeter fence as a “minor tactical error” which had contributed to the enemy’s success”
- British Defence Select Committee Inquiry


My evidence submitted to (and rejected by) Messrs Hammond & Francois at the beginning of the DSC Camp Bastion attack inquiry:

“This photo shows men harvesting what i suspect to be opium, with Bastion fence in the foreground. The men are approximately 400m to the right of the compound pictured above. On this day we were told that Afghan National Security Forces were 'harassing' the owner of the field who lived in said compound and that if any ANSF vehicles approached the compound we were to report it on the radio. At the same time there were well publicised (Radio 4, From Our Own Correpondent) ISAF operate conducted to destroy poppy fields in other areas” 
- Anthony C Heaford, firsthand testimony


Summary of  the deception concerning our complicity in opium production:
My firsthand evidence and testimony informed the government ministers that British force were actively protecting illegal opium harvesting from Afghan security forces interference, rather than simply 'tolerating' it as later claimed by Lt General Capewell. Messrs Hammond and Francois chose to reject this information out of hand on 30th Novemeber 2013 rather than submitting it to the DSC inquiry for consideration on 17th December 2013, in breach of their obligations to the DSC.

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Details of the deception regarding routine British security failings:

Declassified US Investigation:

”Many of the [US Marine] interviewees, including Major General Sturdevant, expressed that they were a tenant unit, and they relied upon... the British Force Protection Wing to protect them."
US Central Command


British Parliamentary Inquiry:

Lieutenant General Capewell (shamelessly passing blame to the US command):
"I would say is that there were most certainly shortcomings, which were identified, as you are well aware, in the US investigation. That is why two of their commanders were, in my view, held to account. They were held to account for a range of causal issues that contributed to the vulnerabilities that were discovered by the insurgency. As a result, action was taken against those American commanders.” 
- British DSC inquiry evidence session


My evidence hinting at the scale of major security failings; evidence submitted to and rejected by Messrs Hammond & Francois during the DSC inquiry:

“… I witnessed soldiers who were 'on watch' sitting on the floor of the tower watching a movie on a laptop. As previously stated i saw this happen once. I also was told of another such incident by a reliable source in theatre. Whether these are the 'tip of the iceberg' or isolated incidents i don't know“ 

“This compound c.400m from Bastion perimeter. Of interest here is… the obscured hole cut into the compound wall. Here a close up of the holle shows the hole in the wall is now 'open’. We had been advised that there were 2-AK47s and a single shot rifle in this compound, and althought the permit for them was suspect, they were still allowed to keep the weapons (we were advised of this in the [guard] tower briefing.' 
- Anthony C Heaford, firsthand testimony


Summary of the deception concerning routine security failings:
My speculation as to whether the security failings I witnessed personally were the "tip of the iceberg or isolated incidents" has since proved very pertinent; it is now confirmed by senior independent sources that sleeping on guard duty and the failure to punish such transgressions had been a major source of contention for at least ten-months before the airfield raid. The matter was raised almost weekly at the Bastion garrison commander's Friday meetings, but the junior officers were routinely overruled and ordered to ignore the court martial offence of sleeping on guard duty and instead deal with the crime with “a stern talking to”.

The DSC inquiry was clearly not informed of these routine and long standing issues by Lt Gen Capewell during the DSC evidence hearing on 17th December 2013. Based on the evidence I have presented against both Messrs Hammond & Francois MPs I believe they withheld this critical evidence from the inquiry too and are therefore guiltly of misconduct in public office. A sperate charge (link: Charge 6) against Lt Gen Capewell has been filed with the military police, one of failing to make an official record he had a duty to make, with intent to deceive a parliamentary inquiry - an offence under military law carrying a two-year prison sentence.

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Jurisdiction and case progress

Mr James Arbuthnot, Chairperson of the Defence Select Committee 2005 - 2014:

"the Defence Committee of the House of Commons have the duty, on behalf of the British people, to scrutinise what happens within the Ministry of Defence and in our armed forces and, as much as possible, to do so in public." 


April 2014

The published DSC inquiry into the attack on Camp Bastion is a white wash.

It is a document full of farcical claims, glaring omissions and shameless lies from the most senior echelons of the British military and Ministry of Defence.

After publication of their inquiry findings in April 2014 I continued to submit reports to the DSC detailing the reality of the camp’s security that summer, or more accurately, the lack of. 


November 2014 

The Clerk of the Committee replied, noting:

"Your email was considered by the Committee who noted its contents with considerable interest.

 The particular points that you make certainly contribute to the picture of shortcomings in perimeter security at Camp Bastion that emerges from the US report that the Committee considered during the course of this inquiry."


The committee’s original report concluded that:

"The MoD has been obstructive and unhelpful to us as we tried to establish the facts surrounding the attack.”

With the assurance I’d been given in this correspondence, that the committee had "noted its contents [my evidence submission] with considerable interest’", I felt sure the inquiry would be re-examined and the truth be told.

August 2015

Frustrated with there being no apparent action from the DSC I wrote a report for publication:

"Afghan Opium Harvesting Protected by British Occupation Forces

My report was published by the Canadian Global Research site and has been shared and reported widely since. My claims, allegations and reports are now public knowledge - the curtain on the pantomime of parliament pulled back for all to see. 

October 2015

With this published report in mind I inquired as to the DSC's progress. The senior committee assistant replied, referring me back to the inquiry findings that I had already informed the committee were riddled with lies. 

A second reply came from acting DSC spokesperson Mr Bob Stewart MP:

Dear Mr Heaford,

Thank you for your e mail which irritated me.  I will respond – just this once as I don’t intend to get into some form of e mail dialogue with you.  But I will make a few points back though.

 I wonder why you didn’t say this when the investigation was ongoing? You were there on the ground.  Please don’t argue that you were told or bullied into saying nothing – every soldier has the right (and a duty) to have his or her say when things go wrong as they clearly did in Bastion.  That is well established in British Army doctrine as I know from experience.

….

 Based on the fact that you were misguided enough to repeat such rubbish against members of the House of Commons Defence Committee which takes evidence impartially and I have doubts about what you say as well, I will not respond again to any e mail you send me.

Bob Stewart
MP for Beckenham

I was trying to inform the committee that it had been deceived - using my first hand evidence and verified testimony. In response Mr Stewart insinuated that I was lying and that I had failed in my duty. I did respond to point out the evidenced errors in his harsh criticism and unjust accusations, but the former army officer has so far chosen not to acknowledge his mistakes or offer an apology.

Brady


August 2016

Continued efforts to have the DSC re-examine their inquiry resulted in short shrift from my constituency MP, Mr Brady. He curtly informed me that although my additional evidence and testimony had been passed to the DSC, the committee were busy and had chosen not to investigate my assertions that they had been systematically lied to and deceived.


September 2017

Having corresponded with the Office of the Speaker of the House of Commons (parliament's headboy, to use a public school analogy) on the matter I was advised that any alleged deception of the DSC would be a police matter.

After dialing 101 (police non-emergency line) I was advised that as I am a resident of Greater Manchester the case would come under Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) jurisdiction. GMP then advise me it was a Metropolitan Police matter, as the alledged crimes happened in London. The Met transferred my call directly back to GMP after reiterating that it fell under GMP's jurisdiction. The case was then assigned to a team of three GMP Detectives.


October 2017

The team of three GMP detectives informed me that British civil law does not apply to service personnel overseas and that any criminal allegations should be directed the the Afghan National Police. After further discussion a senior GMP detective apologised on behalf of the three detectives, explaining that they had become ‘confused' and their assertions were not only entirely false but also irrelivent to the allegations I had submitted.

The senior GMP detective then said that regardless of their ruling being wrong, the case still did not fall under GMP’s jurisdiction. I asked whose jurisdiction it fell under and she advised me to call 101. I pointed out that I had called 101 a month earlier and had been told that this fell under GMP's jurisdiction by both the Met police and the national police switch board. The detective then refused to give me any further advice or assistance other than suggesting I called 101 again.

January 2018

In an attempt to ensure there is a clear public record of my allegations of misconduct in public office against Messrs. Hammond, Francois and Stewart MPs and a concise presentation of my evidence and my efforts to date, I have produced this report. 

My allegations set out here have now been submitted to the current Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, with a request for an inquiry into the conduct of said members.

© Anthony C Heaford 2016