Sunday Mirror


- EXCLUSIVE BY GERALDINE McKELVIE Investigat­ions Editor and NICK SOMMERLAD geraldine.mckelvie@

A TOP cop told colleagues not to review a triple murder case investigat­ed by his detective dad.

Telford abuse victim Lucy Lowe, 16, died with sister Sarah, 17, and mum Eileen, 49, in a blaze started by cabbie Azhar Ali Mehmood, 25, in 2000.

Lucy met Mehmood when she was 13 and a year later had his daughter – who survived the inferno after he placed her under a tree.

The Sunday Mirror revealed in 2018 the deaths were linked to exploitati­on of hundreds of Shropshire girls.

A public inquiry sparked by our exposé is set to report on Tuesday and will examine whether the authoritie­s failed Lucy. We can reveal that, before the inquiry was commission­ed, Supt Tom Harding signalled the Lowe case did not merit “review”.

The original murder probe was led by his father, Det Chief Insp Clive Harding, now retired. It is claimed officers were told Mehmood was part of a grooming gang. But it would be nine years before child sex probe Operation Chalice was launched.

On March 9, 2018, Supt Harding emailed colleagues, saying: “Although she had a child with him under 16, they were together for years before he set the house alight. He was convicted of murder and there is nothing further to review (nothing to do with Operation Chalice).”

On March 17, he emailed the National Police Chiefs Council saying: “The focus was securing the murder conviction. Clearly, with 3 victims, he would receive a life sentence and I do not believe further offences would have secured any additional term.”

But on March 23, Det Supt Adrian McGee emailed: “We need to establish whether the other offences were not recognised, or recognised and considered irrelevant in context of the murders.”

Mehmood is still in jail after being given a minimum 18 years in 2001.

Tom Harding, now a Chief Supt with Gwent Police, declined to comment. Clive Harding did not respond to requests for comment. Det Supt McGee died in June 2018. West Mercia Police said, with hindsight, the abuse should have been probed in 2000. Further investigat­ion was ruled out in 2018 “given timescales and life sentences for murder being served”. Of the Hardings, the force said there was no conflict of interest, adding: “In 2020, the CPS advised there was insufficie­nt evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for any sexual offences.”

 ?? ?? KILLED Lucy Lowe, 16. Her baby survived
Murderer Mehmood, and our exclusive
KILLED Lucy Lowe, 16. Her baby survived JAIL Murderer Mehmood, and our exclusive
 ?? ?? COP FAMILY Tom Harding & dad Clive
COP FAMILY Tom Harding & dad Clive

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom