Northamptonshire chief constable has ‘no case to answer’ for failed murder inquiry

Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Adrian Lee and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds NNL-150122-120817001
Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Adrian Lee and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds NNL-150122-120817001

A probe into the suspected failings of a 2002 murder investigation has revealed Northamptonshire Chief Constable Adrian Lee has ‘no case to answer’, according to his boss.

Over the past four years the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been conducting an inquiry into the handling of the murder of Kevin Nunes in 2002 by Staffordshire Police.

Mr Nunes, a 20-year-old who had been on the books of Tottenham Hotspur, was found dead in a country lane in Staffordshire on September 19, 2002.

Five men were found guilty of an alleged ‘execution-style’ murder, but in 2012 they were cleared at the Court of Appeal in 2012 after a damning report exposed errors by Staffordshire Police, where Adrian Lee held a senior position at the time.

The successful appeal prompted an IPCC investigation into the handling of the case called Operation Kalmia.

Today his current boss, Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds, confirmed via a video message that, having reviewed the final IPCC report on Operation Kalmia and having taken ‘expert legal advice’, Mr Lee has ‘no case to answer’.

Mr Simmonds said: “As far as I am concerned this matter is now closed.

“Adrian Lee has faced three years of investigations where his entire career and integrity has been held up to the microscope.

“He has had to live his life, reassure his wife, colleagues, friends and families of his innocence, while all the time knowing there were people investigating him and around the community making judgements about him.”

In total, 14 past and serving Staffordshire Police officers were questioned by the IPCC as part of Operation Kalmia.

Following the successful appeal of the convicted men, complaints had been made in connection with the handling of the Kevin Nunes murder inquiry.

It was alleged that Staffordshire Police had received a complaint from the ‘main witness’ relating to a senior officer of the Sensitive Policing Unit there in November 2006.

The second matter was the force’s alleged failure to disclose the results of an internal review of the sensitive policing unit.

The Crown Prosecution dropped criminal charges against Mr Lee in November.

Following the news that he will face no further action in relation to Operation Kalmia today, Mr Lee, said: “This has been a difficult time for me personally, coming as it did during a highly challenging period for Northamptonshire Police, in which we have seen enormous transformational change against a background of continuing austerity.

“Throughout this long investigation, however, I have received nothing but support from colleagues the length and breadth of the Force – not least a concern for my welfare from the Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds.

“You have placed your trust in me since the allegations first became public.”

And he added: “Today we have reached a point where it is now clear that there was no substance to the allegations made against me.

“I have always known this - it is regrettable that it has taken others over three years to reach the same conclusion.”