What happened during day 2 of a trial which involved a Lancashire Constabulary request for an anti-social behaviour order against Mr Ponting?
By John Brace (Editor)
This is a report on a public hearing of day 2 of Chief Constable of Lancashire Police v Ponting at the Liverpool County Court which continues from what happened on day 1.
As the case was ongoing at the time of publication comments are turned off.
Mr Henry Gow (barrister for the Defendant Mr Ponting) referred to the face to face conference the Defendant had had with a Superintendent Thistlethwaite which had been recorded by the Defendant. Mr Gow was going to refer to it in cross examination and asked HHJ Knifton QC to consider when the recorded extracts of this which had been submitted would be listened to.
HHJ Knifton QC asked if Superintendent Thistlethwaite was not a witness in the case?
Mr Henry Gow replied that he wasn’t but pointed out that the evidence had been referred to.
HHJ Knifton QC confirmed that it had and referred to the hearing the day before.
Mr Henry Gow invited HHJ Knifton QC to listen to the recording when considering the evidence and referred to some difficulty in setting up a DVD.
HHJ Knifton QC then made a series of points in response. Was the purpose of the evidence that it could be deduced that Detective Constable Harrison went off sick because of the Defendant’s actions but what Inspector Thistlethwaite had said was no you can’t – she’s not very well and he did not want a complaint that would put her over the edge so she went off sick and therefore the reasons for going off sick are nothing to do with the Defendant? However one thing that was difficult with this sort of evidence was the issue at the outset of hearsay evidence.
As the application for medical evidence had been refused, HHJ Knifton QC stated that he didn’t think he was in a position to make positive findings as to the reasons Detective Constable Harrison went off work but he did know it was stress related. He would take into account that the Defendant was told something different, but he was not sure that listening to him saying that in person would take it much further.
Later at the cross examination of the Defendant, if it was suggested that it was never said then it would relate to the Defendant’s credibility.
Mr Henry Gow went on to make another point about what Superintendent Jolly said. Paraphrasing he had said that he could find no lies in the website or words to that extent. He would put those words to the witness, made another couple of points and confirmed that he was ready to start.
HHJ Knifton QC thanked him.
The next witness was Inspector Adrian Jolly who read the witness oath and upon questioning by Mr Bonner (barrister for the Claimant) confirmed his identity. Mr Bonner referred to the two witness statements and pointed out a minor administrative error to correct in the index and asked HHJ Knifton QC if he wished to amend the index to which HHJ Knifton QC responded, “Yes“.
Mr Bonner asked the witness to confirm if the witness statements and attached exhibits were accurate to the best of his knowledge and belief to which the witness replied, “That is correct”.
The witness was asked to formally adopt the contents of the evidence. The witness confirmed this.
Mr Gow started by explaining that although the witness may know the form, if the witness didn’t understand the question to ask him to rephrase and that he was not trying to trick him. He asked him when his first involvement with the Defendant was? The answer given was “June 2017”.
Mr Gow then asked him what Operation Malaya was?
Inspector Jolly replied that his understanding was that it was a group of officers tasked to investigate numerous reports of online harassment.
Mr Gow asked of who? Inspector Jolly replied with a number of names. Mr Gow asked by how many were in Operation Malaya? Inspector Jolly replied asking, “That I know of?” to which Mr Gow asked how many were seconded to Operation Malaya?
Inspector Jolly said that on one of the occasions he went to Ormskirk there were approximately five to six officers.
Mr Gow asked if this number were tasked with the investigation into Mr Ponting (the Defendant) code name Malaya? Inspector Jolly replied that he didn’t know what he meant.
Mr Gow said it went back to his army days but that these days it would be an operational name.
Inspector Jolly said that for administrative purposes everything was given an operational name even a football match was given an operational name.
Mr Gow said it was the same way in the army, just different terminology but that Inspector Jolly was not directly involved? Inspector Jolly confirmed this. Mr Gow asked him if he’d stated in his statement that Mr Ponting was vilifying officers to which he replied “Yes”.
Mr Gow asked the witness if he was aware of the Claimant’s face to face meeting – the one with Superintendent Thistlethwaite in October 2017 … at this point HHJ Knifton QC interrupted stating it should be taken a step at a time and asked Inspector Jolly if he was at the time aware of the meeting?
Inspector Jolly replied that now he was, but that he wasn’t aware at the time. Mr Bonner referred to a document from April 2017.
Mr Gow stated that during that the Defendant had been asked to take the website down, the Defendant had asked to be shown anything that was a lie, the response was that he couldn’t find anything that was an absolute lie and was Inspector Jolly aware of that?
Inspector Jolly stated that he had listened to a 5 hour conversation, so yes he was aware of what was said and was aware that there was reference to that, yes he was.
HHJ Knifton QC queried whether it was 5 hours to which the witness replied four and a half. HHJ Knifton QC stated that during the meeting it had been said that he couldn’t find anything untrue?
Mr Gow responded by confirming “untrue”, but asked him to confirm if the Defendant had said if it was highlighted that anything was an absolute lie he would take it down?
Inspector Jolly responded.
Mr Gow asked a further question, to which the witness replied that the recording was not clear at all, not crystal clear and that you had to listen quite intensely to it.
Mr Gow referred the witness to part of their witness statement in relation to what the Defendant wrote online about the police, he asked whether Inspector Jolly was aware of the first interaction with Leicestershire (quickly corrected to Lancashire) Police and the involvement of Mr Turner? Inspector Jolly replied that during the course of his duties, he had dealt with Mr Ponting and gained quite a knowledge which had started only from what he had deduced from reports and incident logs read.
Mr Gow referred to an investigation into the background that Mr Turner had posted numerous posts claiming the Defendant was a **********, was he aware of that? Inspector Jolly stated that he was aware that Mr Ponting had alleged that.
Mr Gow asked if there had been any research to identify that? Inspector Jolly responded that he didn’t know of incidents off the top of his head, bearing in mind in the last three years he had dealt with fifty plus incidents a year reported to him by Mr Ponting and that without documentation on him he couldn’t give an accurate answer but that it didn’t ring any bells.
Mr Gow referred to the arrest of Mr Ponting by Lancashire Police, being held in custody, that Mr Ponting had sued successfully, but had a complaint been made against Mr Turner for those posts? Inspector Jolly stated that he didn’t understand, he was aware of it as it took it as part of doing his job properly as he had been made aware of it prior to his involvement, but that all that had happened prior to the witness taking a position at Ormskirk. He had not been involved in the arrest which was prior to his time so he couldn’t comment on what went on there.
Mr Gow referred to the witness statement and Mr Ponting searching internet posts about him to see if someone was posting slanderous claims such as ********** or ***** *******, did he think it was reasonable having slanderous claims made to search internet posts? Inspector Jolly answered, “quite possibly” but where reported it had been used to take action as he had said to West Midlands Police who were currently dealing with it.
Mr Gow asked if Mr Turner had not been prosecuted? Inspector Jolly stated that it was prior to his time in the role so he couldn’t make assumption on what police officers before him did.
Mr Gow asked if Mr Turner was a police informant? Inspector Jolly replied that personally he did not have any, but if Mr Turner was it wasn’t a point he could clarify in a court room.
Mr Gow asked about Neil Wilkes and had he been arrested regarding his interaction with Mr Ponting? Inspector Jolly replied that as far as he was aware yes, as he was in contact with West Midlands Police. It had been sent to West Midlands Police because the alleged offender lives in the West Midlands.
HHJ Knifton QC asked Inspector Jolly about his involvement in the matter? Inspector Jolly replied that his involvement was only in as far as it was reported to Lancashire, he had had conversations with all parties and stipulated that they must report to their home force, to explain how the police service works, if someone is based in the West Midlands and accused of a malicious offence in the West Midlands then the police have to initially prove where it is.
HHJ Knifton QC as he understood it, Mr Ponting made an accusation, it was reported to Lancashire Police and you were involved in the reception? The witness replied that he reviewed all reports.
HHJ Knifton QC asked if the witness reviewed it and passed it on to West Midlands? Inspector Jolly replied after being allocated, the evidence at this end meant it was passed to West Midlands Police where he assumed it was done.
Mr Gow made a point about making sure HHJ Knifton QC could catch up with his note.
HHJ Knifton QC asked about once it was passed out of Lancashire Police’s hands? Inspector Jolly replied that what happened was that Mr Ponting refused to deal with Lancashire Police, it was difficult to deal with Wests Midlands Police because of the geography, he’d tried to smooth the process. Normally if the offence was elsewhere then Lancashire Police would take statements and transfer them to the other force to present for prosecution.
HHJ Knifton QC asked if West Midlands had asked for this? Inspector Jolly replied it was rather than sending a police officer over.
Mr Gow asked if the witness was aware that Mr Ponting had taken down at least one post at the request of Lancashire Police? Inspector Jolly answered, “Yes”. A couple of other questions were asked about the posts and answered by the witness.
Mr Gow referring to October or November 2019 referred to a fake DVD of ********************, was the witness aware of it? Inspector Jolly stated that it was sent to him he believed by Neil Wilkes. From memory it was posted through a letterbox. He had viewed the video and spoken to Anna Ponting about it, but his notes were in Ormskirk about specific incidents but he did remember the video.
HHJ Knifton QC asked in general terms what was the nature of the DVD? Inspector Jolly stated that it was filmed in some flat or premises ******* that Mr Ponting *************************************. Mr Gow asked Inspector Jolly if he accepted it was false? Inspector Jolly stated that it looked perfectly false the first time he saw it.
Mr Gow asked if he had received a telephone call from Ponting about this, the witness confirmed this. Mr Gow asked him if he had told Inspector Jolly that he had attempted to take his own life? Inspector Jolly stated possibly, but he knew from previous logs that Mr Ponting suffered from depression and had self harm feelings which he had told us which was on the logs. Therefore appropriate steps were taken where they could.
Mr Gow asked if Mr Ponting had told him that he suffered from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)? Inspector Jolly answered not personally but he had seen it on the file.
Mr Gow asked about if he had been told about mediation between Mr Ponting and the police? Inspector Jolly asked if this was in the phone call? Mr Gow answered, “Yes”. Inspector Jolly replied that he hadn’t got the benefit of a recorded phone call so he couldn’t confirm or deny what was asked.
Mr Gow referred to the various posts, he mentioned mediation with a neutral third party between Mr Ponting and the police, even if the ASBO (anti social behaviour order) was granted to the police, there was an ongoing conflict between you and Mr Ponting, if an independent mediator was set up, obviously Mr Ponting has health problems but he would take down the offensive posts, Mr Ponting trusted Inspector Jolly so was it worth a shot?
Inspector Jolly replied that his personal experience with Mr Ponting was the first time Mr Ponting said he would put it all over the internet, but that was the first time he had ever dealt with that in a 28 year service history so he would say no. Listen to the meeting with Superintendent Eddie Thistlethwaite the question was raised what would it take for Mr Ponting to take down the posts and he was very demanding. Inspector Jolly said that if you asked him with his personal knowledge he didn’t think it would help otherwise it would have been tried from the start, but he had advised Mr Ponting on how he interacts with other people on the internet.
Mr Gow stated that the problem was that trust on both sides had broken down, Mr Ponting had been arrested nine times, prosecuted five, the trust on the police side was exactly the same. Complaints had not been upheld and Mr Ponting had resorted to the internet. Trust was non existent?
Inspector Jolly replied that the issue of trust from the police was that he understood some of the staff he dealt with were intimidated or frightened to deal with him and there was an element of distrust there. His job was to serve the public as best he could and he tried to do that. When allegations met the evidential criteria they were progressed to the best of his ability regardless of whether there was trust or not it was best to help him.
Mr Gow said he was not suggesting that was not the case, was the lack of trust on both sides generally? Inspector Jolly reply it was on both sides was the honest truth.
Mr Gow apologised for turning his back on HHJ Knifton QC as he consulted with his client. After consulting, he referred to a specific post and asked if the witness had a copy? HHJ Knifton QC asked for the timescale or date of the post? Mr Gow replied that it was at page 729 of the bundle, a post by George about the Defendant and he drew the witness’ attention to it. HHJ Knifton QC asked for a moment to read it, as he would like to read it and he was sure the officer would like to too. Mr Gow stated that the main part was eight lines up from the bottom.
After reading it, HHJ Knifton QC stated that he couldn’t find a date on the copy and the print wasn’t terribly clear was it? He asked if Mr Ponting was able to help just for his notes? Anna Ponting replied that she thought it was about December 2017.
Mr Gow asked Inspector Jolly if he recognised it, he confirmed he did. Mr Gow asked if he had seen it before, the witness confirmed he had. Mr Gow asked if he had talked to the Defendant about it? Inspector Jolly answered “possibly”.
Mr Gow described it as a “pretty scandalous report” in its accusations and asked a question about the investigation and report? Inspector Jolly referred to his opinion of the meaning of it, but that having seen submissions from the other side and communications between people, that Mr Ponting had joined a group, fell out with people but he couldn’t see where it stated the meanings given by Mr Gow in his question.
Mr Gow asked a follow-up question to which Inspector Jolly replied that it was distasteful, but did it cross the line plus it was to a private group that Mr Ponting had no access to?
Mr Gow referred to 5, 6, 7 and 8, that Mr Ponting did join the group and the allegation about Mr Ponting as well as reference to a court date of the 29th. Inspector Jolly stated that he didn’t know anything about the 29th and that he didn’t know what it related to.
Mr Gow asked as far as he was aware was it not reported? Inspector Jolly replied that as far as he was aware it was not reported. HHJ Knifton QC asked a question about a closed group. The witness stated that their understanding was, which is why there were difficulties and also for the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) but he couldn’t speak for the CPS was that he was sent reams and reams of screenshots from both sides without context and the full context of conversations of all parties who send screenshots of arguments online. He had spoken to all and asked them to address their Facebook security to protect themselves (including Mr Ponting and two others who had each replied).
HHJ Knifton QC made a further point. The witness replied that the nonsense had been going on for years but it was beholden on individuals to protect themselves, he was not all that au fait with Facebook or the anti police corruption group that even he couldn’t get into. Mr Ponting had had free access even when thrown out, either through third parties as Inspector Jolly believed or access through another route as he believed Mr Ponting had made a false profile as a way of getting in therefore he’d made a conscious decision regarding the closed Facebook group to look for this to report to the police. He was not disputing whether it was distasteful and then made on to make a point about evidence.
HHJ Knifton QC asked (although he pointed out this may be a generalisation) if investigating an allegation about a post drawn to the police’s attention, is the decision on prosecution a decision for the police or CPS? Inspector Jolly answered that depending on the level of crime it was a decision for the CPS but was very complicated as the issues involved telephony work which was very time consuming and complicated. It was not simple, but it had been going on since Mr Ponting first joined the group, then fell out but it had been going on for years, which was difficult to track into context if only shown three screenshots.
HHJ Knifton QC asked if it was ultimately a decision for the CPS? Inspector Jolly replied that if it was a complicated case then “yes”. Mr Gow asked as far as this had he made a decision that there was insufficient evidence to report to the CPS? Reference was made to the log behind on page 730 which the witness read. Inspector Jolly stated that he was just trying to save time by finding the bit with his collar number on it. Mr Gow referred to page 746 to try to help the officer. The witness replied with regards to page 746 that he could see the dates. Mr Gow made a point about page 746 and HHJ Knifton QC referred to the specific entry by the witness.
The witness stated that all of his entries stated 2018 which was his collar number. HHJ Knifton QC commented on the various police officer collar numbers in the log. Inspector Jolly stated that it was possible he had not been on duty when it came in if it had been the weekend. If anything came in over the weekend, communications would send him an email for when he came back on Monday.
Mr Gow asked the witness if the decision not to refer to the CPS had been his decision? Inspector Jolly stated that he believed it was. Mr Gow referred to page 740 and the third entry from the bottom stating that the Defendant was vulnerable and not to deal with it that night, did he see the entry three up from the bottom? Inspector Jolly asked, “740”? Mr Gow referred to 217. Inspector Jolly replied with a section stating that someone was vulnerable and fully intends to commit suicide.
Mr Gow referred to his earlier question and was this something the witness was aware of? Inspector Jolly replied that the collar number on the log meant he had not had interaction, but suggested he may have been on leave over the Christmas period.
Mr Gow stated he that had perhaps been an unfair question. Inspector Jolly wanted to clarify a point he wanted to address. Mr Ponting was vulnerable and at risk of self-harm, so he always sent someone along, Mr Ponting’s reply was that this was just Inspector Jolly “ticking boxes”.
Mr Gow said that the Defendant suffered from various mental illnesses, but had reported the posts and the decision was made not to go to the CPS following that. Were the entries on the internet about the witness before this? Inspector Jolly replied that he had previously made entries before that. Mr Gow asked if there had been any after? Inspector Jolly stated that he imagined so but the evidence was in front of them.
Mr Gow asked if he could understand frustration in not knowing how the system worked and frustration as to what the Defendant perceived as a scandalous remark? Inspector Jolly responded that the could understand his frustration, he had endeavoured to explain to Paul and Anna Ponting the level of evidence needed to get through a court. Obviously neither were a police officer but even the small point about who takes ownership for an incident which was not a criticism but the internal workings of the police he’d tried to explain on numerous occasions.
Reference was made to the first witness statements that accused Mr Ponting of using the word “fuck” but Mr Ponting tape recorded phone calls and denied he ever did. Inspector Jolly stated he believed he had. Mr Gow asked if it was possible he was mistaken? Inspector Jolly responded that the issue he’s said in the past during an irate conversation, which didn’t come to him naturally, was a reminder that he was talking to a police officer as he had done to Mr Ponting. This didn’t mean he had the right to use foul and abusive language and he was well within his rights to put the phone down and went on to comment on another tape recording that Mr Ponting had produced on YouTube.
Mr Gow apologised but the witness’ voice had dropped down. Inspector Jolly commented on a telephone conversation with the Defendant’s wife in relation to the Defendant and foul and abusive language.
Mr Gow asked a long question about posts Mr Ponting had placed on the internet, Mr Ponting’s background, Operation Malaya and the various attacks on Mr Ponting by other people, regarding Mr Ponting’s lack of knowledge did the witness think the Defendant was justified most of all by the history of the police and failure to react on reports based on honest belief? Inspector Jolly answered, “Not at all”. Mr Gow askd to be excused as he had a frog in his throat.
HHJ Knifton QC asked if it had been clarified to the Defendant that if the f word was used in a conversation does Mr Ponting accept that is foul and abusive language if warned or was it disputed whether or not he used foul or abusive language? Mr Gow said that the Defendant did not use any foul language and he believed he had a tape recording of it. Inspector Jolly responded that if he had a tape recording and it shows he didn’t he accepted he made a mistake.
Mr Gow stated that we all make mistakes, but that it was a clear mistake by the witness. Everyone knew memory was not infallible and even the best people make mistakes. He wanted to understand the witness’ position and the point in his witness statement about how children had been affected by various posts made about him referenced in his witness statement. Inspector Jolly corrected Mr Gow and referred to “my child”.
Mr Gow pointed out that Mr Ponting has children who had the same distress at the posts about Mr Ponting containing various allegations. Inspector Jolly stated that he couldn’t speak for Mr Ponting. Mr Gow said he had one more question and asked HHJ Knifton QC to forgive him for turning his back on him. He asked Inspector Jolly if the Defendant was actively seeking posts that referred to him on the internet? Inspector Jolly replied in the affirmative.
Mr Gow asked if the reason was there was a campaign orchestrated against the Defendant to label him a **********? Inspector Jolly accepted that was the Defendant’s perception but only from dealings with him.
Mr Gow stated that the police were acting in the same way as the Defendant and asked a question about the Defendant seeking any posts made about the police. Inspector Jolly replied that he didn’t need to search as people would tell him, won’t they? The website referred to was in the public domain and on a Google search on the witness’s name returned a result as a crooked cop. Mr Gow thanked the police officer and he had no further questions.
Mr Bonner (barrister for the Chief Constable of Lancashire Police) addressing Inspector Jolly referred to the earlier question about trust having broken down on both sides, referred to a series of meetings beginning in April 2017 (13th April and 25th April) between Superintendent Eddie Thistlethwaite and Mr and Mrs Ponting. When asked questions about that was the witness comforted by listening to the recording served in proceedings by Mr Ponting? Inspector Jolly replied “that’s correct”.
Mr Bonner referred to the meeting on the 13th April 2017 and the UK corrupt police website name and the name on the domain company responsible for the site on page 849. On page 849 a different part of the meeting crystallised succinctly in the opening paragraph Mr Ponting agreed not to take a recording and agreed not to post information online detrimental or not until the process envisaged as a series of meetings to resolve many issues as possible, but in no way preventing freedom of expression, to allow the process to continue with mutual trust. Paul Ponting agreed not to tape record the interview, having listened to the recording he did of course tape some discussion at the start despite agreement that it was not to be recorded by either party?
In answer the witness replied that Superintendent Thistlethwaite said that the police decided not to record, they said they would not record but it was obviously recorded.
Mr Bonner asked having listened to the recording yourself, the recording begins before they arrive in the meeting and continues thereafter so there was potentially no need to activate the recording in front of officers? In answer the witness stated that it was difficult to listen to sounds as it was muffled but it was clear there was walking to an appointment presumably at a police station as you can hear this said on the recording, after the meeting subsided it was clear it was not turned off as at one point there is a conversation about food and a Chinese takeaway.
Mr Bonner asked another question. Despite an agreement outside the meeting based on mutual trust that it had appeared to have been covertly recorded by Mr Ponting? The witness responded to this point and referred to their understanding.
Mr Bonner referred to a different page and paragraph 33 which was a continuation of the same meeting notes where Superintendent Thistlethwaite asked to take the website down? The witness answered that he was asking where the common ground was regarding the website being removed.
Mr Bonner referred to a part that stated that the Defendant wanted people arrested for historic harassment, wanted his life back together, by using the internet it made people listen and he would never have been sitting in front of a Superintendent if he had not used the internet and made so many complaints. The witness answered that that was what he’d heard on the tape recording.
Mr Banner asked a series of questions to the witness on subjects that included bodycam footage, an alleged police informant, charges, online posts, the interim injunction, the article written after that Anna Ponting claims responsibility for, evidence and police procedure, a closed Facebook group, access to closed Facebook groups by those not a member, aliases, queries about the police log and phone calls, welfare checks, visits to Mr Ponting’s home address, safeguarding, a distraught phone call from another police officer to the witness, threats, communication with Mr and Mrs Ponting, online posts and complaints.
The next witness was Inspector Jones.
The audio of two recorded calls made to the police from the 23rd May 2017 and 20th February 2019 were played in court and the hearing was adjourned till ten past two.
The hearing resumed and Mr Gow referred to the evidence of PC Brigg and allegations that a threat had been made in a telephone conversation. However the only threat by the Defendant in the note disclosed by Mr Banner was to bring a prosecution. He had got a copy to hand up?
HHJ Knifton QC said he would look at the note.
Mr Gow referred to page 409 in the bundle and that it was relevant because on page 414 stated in the statement and repeated orally you are police cronies.
HHJ Knifton QC referred to the brief note. Mr Gow stated there was no reference to a threat on the note but there was a threat of a private prosecution in the note disclosed by Mr Banner.
HHJ Knifton QC suggested it be allocated a suitable page number perhaps after the PC Briggs statement. Mr Gow started his cross examination of Inspector Jones by asking about the contact policy that he was instrumental in supervising?
Inspector Jones stated that he didn’t implement it but did supervise it. Mr Gow asked where he would find it (what witness statement)? Inspector Jones answered, “Mr Winstanleys”. Mr Gow asked if the Defendant was allowed contact via 101, he was. Mr Gow asked if he could contact on 999 in an emergency. This was correct. Mr Gow referred to the witness statement and asked about the last time the Defendant had breached the contact clause? Inspector Jones answered that from memory it was an email to Ian Dickinson who was a representative of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire which breached the reporting via a third party via email clause.
Mr Gow referred to the last two on 11th April 2019 and asked on the 28th April about an email to West Midlands Police about a statement, was he aware? Inspector Jones was not aware. Mr Jones asked about the last breach, Mr Banner said he would help if the relevant paragraph in the witness statement was given. Inspector Jones was asked to read paragraph 10 by Mr Gow – which was that there had been in fact no breach of the contact policy for about 6 months. Mr Gow asked a further question, Inspector Jones couldn’t confirm exactly when he had emailed Mr Dickinson. He was asked how the policy actually stated not to contact the Police and Crime Commissioner? Inspector Jones stated he would look through the document, but his role was strategic, day to day was Inspector Jolly and the officers themselves.
HHJ Knifton QC referred to page 254. Mr Banner referred to MW2, January 2017 was the original policy which was revised on 11th April 2019 which can be found on page 263. Inspector Jones referred to number 8 and an update on crimes from officers and the report of a traffic collision involving the Defendant’s wife.
Mr Gow said apart from that, he put it to him the vast breach if we can use that was on 28th April 2019 did he accept that? Inspector Jones couldn’t confirm that. Mr Gow stated that for a broadly considerable time there was compliance with the control restrictions. Inspector Jones stated that in a number of cases Mrs Ponting made contact personally which he believed was on behalf of her husband. Mr Gow stated it was only his belief and there was no evidence? Inspector Jones stated he could give examples if need be.
Mr Gow asked if the Defendant was broadly complying with the contact provisions why seek an antisocial behaviour order on that particular issue if there was compliance broadly in relation to that? Inspector Jones referred to evidence and the “bullshit policy” phrase used, he wanted to see in course if it was not policed correctly then he would continue to breach in the future. A further question was asked by Mr Gow and answered by Inspector Jones. Mr Gow asked if there was any evidence. Inspector Jones stated it was his belief that Mrs Ponting was contacting on his behalf to get around the policy. Mr Gow asked how it prevented his wife from contacting you? Inspector Jones referred to restrictions on both the Defendant and any agent for the Defendant.
Mr Gow referred to paragraph 2 of the witness statement and asked if it caused the highest level of harassment and distress why hadn’t a criminal prosecution been taken against the Defendant? Inspector Jones stated he had tried himself, numerous letters had been sent to Mr Ponting about how to contact the police and how to protect himself from harassment, but they just got replies of negativity, the easiest way for a long term solution was for an injunction and the only way of getting it was as civil proceedings.
Mr Gow stated that that was an answer but not an answer to the questions asked which was specific. If it was the highest form of harassment and alarm why not was the Defendant arrested and prosecuted for harassment? Inspector Jones replied that his role was strategic and to prevent the Defendant getting arrested, but the long term solution was an injunction. Mr Gow asked Inspector Jones to confirm that the police force had arrested or summonsed the Defendant nine times? Inspector Jones answered, “So you say”. Mr Gow pointed out that there had been a failure to convict of a criminal offence. Inspector Jones referred to evidence to court.
Mr Gow referred to the £35,000 payment, but the use of the injunction was to stifle what the Defendant was saying about the police? Inspector Jones stated that the only reason for this was to protect the officers, staff and Lancashire Constabulary. Mr Gow referred to paragraph seven of the witness statement and how the Defendant had been vilified on social media websites and there had been accusations, was Inspector Jones aware? He was. Mr Gow asked if there were any prosecutions of the persons involved? Inspector Jones stated that there had been people prosecuted in the past, if they got evidence they would pass it on to other forces involved with those people.
Mr Gow asked in reference to whether the Defendant was seeking to be harassed asked if someone was posting derogatory comments would he want to know about it? Inspector Jones referred to a closed forum and that he personally would not make up a name to look at a closed forum but it was up to his client. Mr Gow referred to the first interaction with the police force and how a complaint of harassment had been made against Mr Turner, instead the Defendant was investigated and arrested. Inspector Jones referred to warning letters to all parties and tit for tat complaints, but it wasn’t harassment and that standards complaints had not been investigated any further. Mr Gow asked a further question that just because a complaint wasn’t upheld that didn’t mean it was unsubstantiated or not true? Inspector Jones stated that he couldn’t comment on the other complaints but colleagues were more likely to receive complaints if they dealt with Mr Ponting and the stress that came with that.
Mr Gow referred to paragraph 11 and the pictures posted by the Defendant, where did the witness state the pictures were from in paragraph 11 of the witness statement. Inspector Jones answered that in reference to specific pictures that they were off the body worn camera. Mr Gow referred to paragraph 12 and how the final prosecution of the Defendant had been appealed which as upheld on the 20th February? Inspector Jones confirmed it was. Mr Gow asked a series of further questions about the CPS, social media, recordings, an emergency call, the payment of £35,000, the apology letter, freedom of speech, a question about Inspector Jolly being the main contact, various allegations made, a website, the arrests and prosecutions, the advice of a Judge on appeal in a Preston court, email, concerns about police staff, mediation, bad language, shaking of hands, as well as a few other topics. Inspector Jones gave answers to the questions. The matter was adjourned for around ten minutes.
Mr Gow resumed with a question about a phone call on behalf of the Defendant. Inspector Jones answered in the affirmative. Mr Gow continued his cross examination of Inspector Jones and Inspector Jones’ view that the Defendant went over the top in complaints.
After a series of further questions and answers, the conviction of someone in the West Midlands for malicious communication was referred to. Shortly after this the cross examination was finished.
Mr Banner then asked questions. Inspector Jones explained that he had started work on the 3rd September 2018 after moving from Merseyside Police. The negotiation on the settlement had happened before he’d started, at the time he started it was a work in progress but he had nothing to do with it. The apology letter was also asked about.
Inspector Jones explained that at the first couple of months he had spoken to all the staff about what was good and bad and if he could assist in any way. It was apparent early on that it was hard to get officers to deal with issues regarding Mr Ponting as they were worried about it. A recorded phone call was also referred to, as well as Inspector Jones’ recollection of it. The way Mr Ponting used language was referred to. Inspector Jones in answer to a question stated he had done his best to mediate and that when a case was investigated to make sure there was a successful outcome.
Asked a question about the body worn camera, he explained even though he had given an order to do so that the Professional Standards Department stated that it was at officer’s discretion whether to use a body worn camera.
The issue of an accusation of lying in one of the online articles was brought up and questions were asked of the photos used of Inspector Jones. He explained he was an ambassador for a number of sports brands and did a lot of charity work but before people became ambassadors organisations would do a search on a person’s name which would now bring up the UK corrupt police website, he had not lied and was not malicious!
Mr Banner asked if something had happened? Inspector Jones was waiting for it to happen but suggested that it would impact on trust with partner agencies. There was a discussion about the contact policy, how it had previously applied to Anna Ponting as well but when it had been revised it no longer applied to Mrs Ponting. The history of what had happened was discussed as well as the chronology of the current case.
Asked about the impact on resources, it was explained that Inspector Jolly had so much work generated by Mr Ponting that there had been a temporary financial cost to someone else doing his role and Geographical Inspector for West Lancashire, but it was also taking a toll on Inspector Jolly – there was also the issue mentioned previously about how officers mentioned on the internet couldn’t be involved in covert roles.
The Defendant Mr Ponting was the next witness. The witness read the witness oath. Questions were asked about the number of times arrested and summonsed, whether he had any convictions, the award of £35,000 and what had happened when the Defendant was arrested, the civil action against the police, the post traumatic stress disorder, the incident about the foot in the door, the successful appeal after disclosure of video evidence, further discussion of the £35,000 and related apology letter, body worn camera filming, the meeting with Superintendent Thistlethwaite, the publication of personal information about the Defendant’s son online, ICO, conversations between the Defendant and the police, filming by police using their body worn camera, national policy on the use of body worn cameras, why the Defendant didn’t want to filmed when he was there to provide a witness statement, whether filming was covert, the recording of telephone conversations, the recording of the meeting with Superintendent Thistlethwaite and why the Defendant had lied about not recording it.
HHJ Knifton QC asked a series of questions about trust and how there had been a complete breakdown of trust. He pointed out (in relation to the Defendant) that to carry out a covert recording after stating he wouldn’t record was a gross breach of trust. The Defendant gave his justification for this and stated in response to Mr Bonner that he had suffered from mental illness at the time – but added that the police carried out covert recording too.
HHJ Knifton QC referred to a number of court rulings that provided safeguards when the police carried out covert recording. There was further discussion about other meetings and whether the police should or shouldn’t have recorded them.
Mr Bonner used the lie about recording to cast doubt on the Defendant’s credibility and honesty.
HHJ Knifton QC understood the Defendant had very strongly held feelings about the police, but during cross examination he had largely been complying with the contact policy with reducing incidents of friction. He asked if there was mediation would the Defendant have complied? The Defendant stated he would love to do that but in answer to a further question asked answered that he would like to trust the police.
The Defendant also pointed out that he hadn’t put the covert recording on the internet. Mr Bonner continued the point about dishonesty and misrepresentation. The Defendant stated he wanted accountability. Mr Bonner asked if he had fooled or conned the police? The Defendant stated that he didn’t trust the police and that a lot of lies had been told in the court room.
A further question was asked about mediation and then whether the Defendant thought all police officers were as bad as each other? The Defendant also referred to comments about Paul Turner and what he believed about him and what his recollection about what had been stated at the an Employment Tribunal. The Defendant also stated that the police were bound by rules on covert recording but as a private individual he was not bound.
The Defendant also claimed that the police had lied about him.
The day’s hearing ended with HHJ Knifton QC warning the Defendant not to discuss matters with anyone and suggested he return home and watch whatever rubbish was on the television. The hearing would resume at 10.30 am for the third day on Wednesday 11th March 2020.
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