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Metropolitan Police admit they didn't refer cyclist Michael Mason's death to DPP - five days after saying they had

Statement issued correcting one made on Friday, the eve of first anniversary of 70-year-old's death...

Five days after it announced that the death of cyclist Michael Mason had been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Metropolitan Police Service has withdrawn that statement, issued on Friday, saying it was “incorrect.”

The admission was made in an email sent out to members of the media today, with police saying: “We have previously stated that the below matter was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. This is incorrect. No referral has been made.”

It appears that police did not communicate the error to Mr Mason’s family in advance of making their error public.

Martin Porter QC, the barrister who has represented them, told road.cc this afternoon that the first he knew of it was when a journalist contacted him, two hours before he received confirmation of it from the police.

The news comes just four days after the first anniversary of 70-year-old Mr Mason’s death on 14 March last year from injuries sustained when he was hit by a car on Regent Street north of Oxford Circus on 25 February 2014.

The Cyclists’ Defence Fund, run by national cyclists’ charity CTC, had said in December that the failure of police to refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service was a clear breach of CPS guidelines.

Writing on his blog last year after a coroner’s inquest at which he represented Mr Mason’s family, Mr Porter said: “Witness evidence and CCTV evidence … left no doubt that no witness aside from the Nissan driver failed to see Mr Mason on his bicycle."

The barrister subsequently liaised with police and the DPP in an attempt to have the decision not to refer the case to the CPS reversed, and his family had plans to bring a private prosecution against the driver involved if that did not happen.

The confirmation, then, on Friday – the same day a vigil was held at the scene of Mr Mason’s death to mark the weekend’s anniversary – was seen as an admission by police that they had made the wrong decision in deciding not to refer the issue to prosecutors.

Rhia Weston of CTC, who co-ordinates the CDF, told road.cc on Friday: "The threat of embarrassment from a private prosecution highlighting the police's failure to act seems to have made the police change their minds about this case.

"Now that the CPS has received the case file, we hope that they decide to prosecute the driver involved and that they choose a dangerous driving charge rather than a lesser charge of careless driving," she added.

But the Metropolitan Police’s statement today, correcting the one issued on Friday, makes it clear the case will not now be reviewed.

While admitting its error may be embarrassing enough to the police, some may view the timing of the issue of the two statements as being particularly insensitive given they have been released either side of the anniversary of the collision that resulted in Mr Mason’s death.

Moreover, many will note that the correction has been made on an afternoon when the focus of much of the media is firmly on today’s Budget, the last before May’s General Election.

We have asked the Metropolitan Police for an explanation of how the mistake happened, and have also sought comment from Mr Mason’s family as well as CTC, whose Road Justice campaign is calling for more thorough investigation, prosecution and sentencing of cases in which a cyclist is the victim.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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21 comments

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Stumps | 8 years ago
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We used to prosecute all and sundry and the vast majority pleaded at court.

Now, other than a handful of offences, we have to seek permission from the CPS to charge and they have their targets to aim for so unless its absolutely and completely water tight it wont see the light of day. A lot of the cases that get binned were the same type that pleaded guilty at court.

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vonhelmet | 8 years ago
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It's said that you send cases for prosecution if you think you can win them. Perhaps the police aren't passing this one on because they fear - as we do - that no jury will convict the driver under the circumstances.

Either way, someone is failing here, but perhaps the police are just jaded.

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Jimbonic replied to vonhelmet | 8 years ago
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vonhelmet wrote:

It's said that you send cases for prosecution if you think you can win them. Perhaps the police aren't passing this one on because they fear - as we do - that no jury will convict the driver under the circumstances.

Either way, someone is failing here, but perhaps the police are just jaded.

Indeed. But, the decision should be based not on whether they fail because of prejudice, but because there is no legal tenet on which they could be won. So, they should keep on filing the cases, until they start being won.

That's how positive change happens - keep at it.

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Joselito | 8 years ago
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Just been tweeted...

Martin Porter QC ‏@MartinPorter6
@CTC_Cyclists Reasons @metpoliceuk will not refer to CPS include victim not wearing helmet and not wearing high viz.

This has actually made my stomach turn.
How are we to have any faith in 'the system' any more?

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jollygoodvelo replied to Joselito | 8 years ago
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Joselito wrote:

Just been tweeted...

Martin Porter QC ‏@MartinPorter6
@CTC_Cyclists Reasons @metpoliceuk will not refer to CPS include victim not wearing helmet and not wearing high viz.

This has actually made my stomach turn.
How are we to have any faith in 'the system' any more?

Holy FUCK.

That's utterly, completely, disgusting.

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R845 | 8 years ago
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Gone are the days when actual police officers investigated crimes and attended road traffic accidents - as they used to be called - having gathered the facts the officer reporting would presented all the evidence on paper and then proceeded to go to court with a prosecution if enough evidence indicated possible offences had been committed. Now we have no real traffic branch, fewer investigating officers available for fatal accident investigation and if there is any doubt in a case it never gets past the sifting process of the civilian prosecutors to be heard at court. The courtroom was the place for evidence to be heard and decided on, not a back room at a police station. Far to many decisions have been taken away from the officer who actually dealt with the case and given to the budget watching administrators!

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birzzles | 8 years ago
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We have not tended to scrutinise our public services in this country. This is for political reasons. When we do we discover child care services abusing children, hospitals that kill us and a corrupt police force. Recent reports indicating widespread organised crime in the Met - running pimping and drug dealing rings, did not seem to catch the attention of the media for more than a flash earlier this year.

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Al__S | 8 years ago
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The Met is almost twice as large as the next largest police force (Police Scotland) and over four times the size of the third largest (West Midlands). Using the numbers I can find, approximately 20% of police officers in England & Wales are at the Met.

Now, question is- do they make 20% of the high profile cock ups?

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Stumps replied to Al__S | 8 years ago
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Al__S wrote:

The Met is almost twice as large as the next largest police force (Police Scotland) and over four times the size of the third largest (West Midlands). Using the numbers I can find, approximately 20% of police officers in England & Wales are at the Met.

Now, question is- do they make 20% of the high profile cock ups?

There were 127,909 police officers in the 43 police forces of England and Wales in March 2014 and of those 31,000 were in the Met so its nearer 25%. As for your question they appear to be involved in a hell of a lot more than 25% of the cock ups.

My personal opinion is that the Met should be split into maybe 2 or 3 smaller forces. You already have the City of London force so why not have one south of the Thames and one north as well, each with seperate budgets and chiefs. Admittedly they will say that there are various area commands which have their own independant budgets and own bosses, admin etc but ultimatley its one force which is where the problem lies.
They also have a problem with recruitment, due to its size and turnover the recruitment dept cant be picky with its intake, unlike other forces - i know when i joined i was one of 10, out of 2500, who applied who got in, whereas the Met cant be as picky and will get rotten apples in the barrel due to the amount of recruits it takes on. I could go on for longer but i'm digressing from the original article.

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Stumps | 8 years ago
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As a serving officer i cringe whenever an article appears about the Met. Yes you get the odd article about other forces but they pale into insignificance when the Met is involved.

Why cant they get things right or is it because they are such a big force that they appear to make more mistakes. In relation to this article its a major cluster fcuk imho and my condolences go out to the family for the suffering they have endured.

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levermonkey replied to Stumps | 8 years ago
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stumps wrote:

As a serving officer i cringe whenever an article appears about the Met. Yes you get the odd article about other forces but they pale into insignificance when the Met is involved.
Why cant they get things right or is it because they are such a big force that they appear to make more mistakes.

The problem with the Police Service is not at the bottom but at the top.

At the bottom you have a huge number of hard working, diligent and conscientious officers doing there very best for the community they work in. Yes you get morons but they are thankfully few in number.

However, as you go up the greasy pole it becomes more and more important to 'Police the Rainbow' as the operational decisions become more political. There has been no doubt about the position of Chief Constable being political ever since the unnecessary and craven removal of the Chief Constable of Humberside Police by the then Home Secretary Jack Straw. The Head of the Met has always been a political appointment.

Do Mr Mason's family belong to a group with political clout? No.
Are Mr Mason's friends and family likely to riot in the streets? No.
Are Cyclists likely to smash all the windows down the high street? No. (For one thing think of all that broken glass.)
Can Mr Mason, his family and cyclists be discounted by the powers that be? Yes.

End of rant!

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Gus T replied to levermonkey | 8 years ago
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levermonkey wrote:
stumps wrote:

As a serving officer i cringe whenever an article appears about the Met. Yes you get the odd article about other forces but they pale into insignificance when the Met is involved.
Why cant they get things right or is it because they are such a big force that they appear to make more mistakes.

The problem with the Police Service is not at the bottom but at the top.

At the bottom you have a huge number of hard working, diligent and conscientious officers doing there very best for the community they work in. Yes you get morons but they are thankfully few in number.

However, as you go up the greasy pole it becomes more and more important to 'Police the Rainbow' as the operational decisions become more political. There has been no doubt about the position of Chief Constable being political ever since the unnecessary and craven removal of the Chief Constable of Humberside Police by the then Home Secretary Jack Straw. The Head of the Met has always been a political appointment.

Do Mr Mason's family belong to a group with political clout? No.
Are Mr Mason's friends and family likely to riot in the streets? No.
Are Cyclists likely to smash all the windows down the high street? No. (For one thing think of all that broken glass.)
Can Mr Mason, his family and cyclists be discounted by the powers that be? Yes.

End of rant!

The Chief Constable of Humberside was sacked because he was a useless an inept officer who's actions in ordering the deletion of vital records resulted in Ian Huntley not being caught much earlier. He had the chance to do the honourable thing and resign but failed to do so. His removal by Jack Straw was very necessary. I know from personal experience what the man was really like and he was a self serving bottom feeder of the lowest kind.

End of my rant.

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PonteD | 8 years ago
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So basically, the Met lied to the press and to the family! incompetence of the highest order.

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CapriciousZephyr | 8 years ago
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It might even be far worse than the Met simply being incompetent or inept. By contrast, this appears like a carefully thought-out strategy to get some good publicity by finally doing the right thing on the anniversary of the man's tragic death, without any actual intention of doing anything of the sort, and bury the retraction on a day when nobody will pay any attention. Are the Met a political party or a government now, of whom I'd fully expect that sort of cynical media manipulation? I'd still like to hope our public servants are above that sort of thing, but the Met do make it very difficult to believe in them.

As others have said, the family must feel awful about this, and I do hope they eventually get justice for Mr Mason one way or another.

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Airzound | 8 years ago
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The lying fuckers! Isn't it bad enough the filth have a history of gross incompetence as we all now know from Hillsborough, but the culture of lying to cover their own arses and people in high places is still endemic. Those concerned should go to prison for misfeasance and gross incompetence in public office, for dereliction of duty and for perverting the course of justice.

Bring on the private prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving.

To the Mason family my heartfelt condolences.

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AJ101 | 8 years ago
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Unreal, can't imagine how the family must be feeling.

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catfordrichard replied to AJ101 | 8 years ago
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AJ101 wrote:

Unreal, can't imagine how the family must be feeling.

I'm hoping that the family get the justice they clearly deserve and I for one would back having read some details of the case. My wife doesn't really like me cycling in London, and it's examples like this that give her that feeling. I hope that this moves forward as it should.

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atgni | 8 years ago
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Maybe the Met 'knew' the driver and nothing has changed since the 80's!

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Housecathst | 8 years ago
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What a set of totally incompetent morons. They really are going out of their way to to show just how little a human life is worth when it comes to the all powerful motorist.

This case, even more than normal makes it clear that having a driving license is like have a license to kill.

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Jonny_Trousers | 8 years ago
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Just when you thought the Met couldn't appear more inept!!!

Bring on the private prosecution!

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felixcat | 8 years ago
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What is wrong with our police? They protect powerful paedophiles and try to ignore the slaughter of vulnerable road users.

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