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Ex-Met Police officers lose appeal

Three ex-Met Police officers involved in a drugs conspiracy have lost their appeal against conviction.

Thomas Kingston, Thomas Reynolds and Terence O'Connell, who all served in the Met's South East Regional Crime Squad (SERCS), were jailed in August 2000 after a trial which heard key prosecution evidence from former colleague Neil Putnam.

Their case was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) on the grounds that, since the trial and an unsuccessful appeal, Putnam had made unsubstantiated claims relating to the Stephen Lawrence case and there were doubts over his credibility and reliability.

Putnam was a police officer in the Met for 22 years but, in February 2000, he was sentenced to a prison term of three years and 11 months for corruption. He had previously entered the witness protection programme and became a police supergrass.

Kingston and Reynolds were convicted of conspiracy to supply amphetamines and jailed for three and a half years while O'Connell was sentenced to two years for perverting the course of justice.

Today, Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Burnett and Mr Justice Holroyde rejected argument that the convictions were unsafe and dismissed the appeal.

The court heard that, in 2006, Putnam made an allegation in a BBC Panorama programme of a corrupt link between an officer in the Lawrence case, detective sergeant John Davidson, and Clifford Norris - the father of David Norris, one of the suspects later convicted of Stephen's murder.

He claimed he had told Met officers about this in 1998, but they failed to act upon it.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found the allegations unsubstantiated and the CCRC has said that it has found nothing which lends support to them.

Alun Jones QC, for the former officers, said the appeal judges were confronted by the stark possibility that there was either a conspiracy by senior Met officers to suppress evidence or Putnam was a determined liar, but Crown counsel Crispin Aylett QC said the convictions were safe and nothing t he appellants had been able to produce could undermine them.

Giving their ruling, Lady Justice Rafferty said that, from start to finish, Putnam was advanced as thoroughly corrupt and dishonest and as admitting six offences of perjury. His Panorama stance would be seen as the seventh, and nothing more.

"He was at the time of the appellants' trial known to be devious, a skilled liar, out to advance his own position where he thought he could, and capable of prodigious feats of recall.

"The addition to that opprobrium of one allegation against Davidson, once explored, would not in the scheme of things have been of the significance necessary to cast doubt upon the safety of their convictions."

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