Top murder squad detective savages Police Scotland over ‘prostitute spy row’ case
ATOP murder squad detective has savaged Police Scotland over an illegal spying operation relating to the unsolved murder of prostitute Emma Caldwell.
David Moran’s phone records were unlawfully seized after the force wrongly believed he was involved in a leak about the failings of the Caldwell investigation.
Now Moran, a former police inspector who has just retired from the force, has spoken for the first time about the “non-existent” intelligence behind the discredited Counter Corruption Unit’s (CCU) decision to target him.
Moran, who got an “unreserved” apology from the force, told the Sunday Herald: “What rancours most is not just they acted illegally, but they actually made some rubbish up to do it.”
In April 2015, the failings of the original Strathclyde Police investigation into the murder of Caldwell, a sex worker, first came to light. Her body had been found in woods near Biggar in 2005.
Strathclyde’s bungled £4 million probe was laid bare to the public by the press with the help of retired officer Gerry Gallacher. His work on the case with journalists helped reveal the existence of a forgotten suspect.
Days after the revelations Police Scotland embarked on a media mole hunt, rather than a fresh manhunt.
Officers in the CCU used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which gives a force access to phone records and text details, to find out whether former and serving officers had helped Gallacher bring the information to the public’s attention.
However, as revealed by the Sunday Herald, the RIPA operation breached the law because the force did not obtain judicial authorisation.
The unlawful acts were confirmed by a watchdog, triggered hearings at Holyrood, and led to an unprecedented Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) in Edinburgh.
Moran, a hugely experienced officer who worked on high-profile gangland murders, was one of the officers wrongly suspected of involvement in the media leak.
After 32 years of service, he retired three weeks ago and has decided to speak about an injustice he believes has unfairly tarnished his reputation.
Following the media expose in 2015, Moran immediately self-declared a long-standing association with Gallacher to the force.
During this process, he was asked about Gallacher’s phone and he said his friend did not have a mobile.
However, Moran said the telecoms appli- cation used to obtain his phone records inaccurately stated that he had volunteered the information about Gallacher not having a mobile, rather than answering in response to a question.
Based on this claim, he said the RIPA application was approved and Police Scotland was able to rifle through his phone records.
“It was a non-existent intelligence base. It was just rubbish,” he said.
Moran explained: “I never worked on the Emma Caldwell inquiry. I had never seen a single piece of paper. No detailed knowledge. No superficial knowledge.”
He added: “I asked Gerry for reassurance that he hadn’t got his information from the police. Gerry gave me that assurance.”
Moran also described the officers in the CCU who were involved as “unprofessional”, “inept” and “amateur”.
He claimed: “Working on murder inquiries, we would not dream of cutting corners, breaking the regulations and the laws that they did. And to find out they did it, and targeted me, is scandalous.”
Moran is also angry with two former chief officers during a period he said “wrecked” his last two years in the force.
Neil Richardson, who was deputy chief constable during the row, gave oral evidence to MSPs in December 2015 and said there had been a “breach” from a police officer to a retired officer, adding that “the focus was on the serving officer in the murder squad”.
Moran, believing he had been outed by Richardson, sent a furious letter to the Justice Committee that denounced the then DCC.
Looking back, Moran said he felt “sick to the stomach” after listening to Richardson: “Integrity is everything in my job. He didn’t name me, but he as good as identified me. I just felt absolutely outraged. My integrity was being utterly impugned.”
On Richardson, he added: “I feel he hung me out to dry and then disappeared into the sunset.”
Ruaraidh Nicolson, who in the year of the RIPA controversy was an assistant chief constable, oversaw the force’s response to the breaches and also gave evidence to Holyrood.
However, Nicolson was head of CID at Strathclyde Police when Caldwell was killed. Moran said he believed this amounted to a “conflict of interest” and said he should never have given evidence in front of MSPs. Asked what he believed was the motivation behind the unlawful RIPA operation, he said: “Utter embarrassment to Police Scotland and particular individuals within Police Scotland.”
The former police inspector also said he had received a “wholehearted and unreserved” apology from Police Scotland over his treatment, but added the force has never publicised the fact it said sorry.
Eventually, the IPT ruled that the force had acted unlawfully and Police Scotland asked Durham Constabulary to investigate non-criminal complaints. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is handling the misconduct probes into the officers behind the CCU snoop.
The Durham findings have never been released, but Moran said the force recommended financial recompense for him and a public apology.
In a letter from deputy chief constable Rose Fitzpatrick, which this newspaper has a copy of, she wrote: “We fully acknowledge that in your case there was no intelligence suggesting you had been involved in the disclosure of material to Mr Gallacher, that you did not
make any such disclosure and that you had no access to the material thought to have been disclosed.” On behalf of the force, she added: “As I said to you in person when we met earlier today, my apology to you is both wholehearted and unreserved.”
However, Police Scotland has never publicised the letter. “I am extremely disappointed by not having a public apology,” he says.
Moran is keen to point out he loved his time in the police and stressed he is not a “disgruntled” former officer: “I don’t want to undermine my colleagues, who are still serving. The police get a real knocking in the press, which a lot of the time is undeserved. A lot of people are doing a good job.”
He said of his reason for speaking out: “The people who know me, they know there was no way I would have been involved in this. But I know for a fact there was a lingering doubt, or even outright suspicion, amongst other people within the police.”
Calum Steele, the general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), said: “David Moran was a highly-regarded detective who worked on many high-profile cases. He was clearly wronged by the service. The SPF was delighted to support him throughout this entire process.”
Chief Superintendent Alan Speirs, Head of Professional Standards at Police Scotland, said: “The PSNI is conducting an independent misconduct investigation on behalf of Police Scotland following the conclusion of Durham Constabulary’s enquiry into complaints about Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) procedures and associated matters.
“Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton from PSNI has been appointed as the Investigating Officer. As such it would not be appropriate to comment further until this investigation has concluded. “
Richardson declined to comment. Nicolson could not be reached.
The body of sex worker Emma Caldwell was discovered in woods near Biggar in 2005
Former police inspector David Moran