Misconduct found for Met Chief Superintendent over misleading witness statement
A senior Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer committed misconduct when he made an incomplete, inaccurate and misleading witness statement in a criminal case, a disciplinary panel has decided.
The outcome follows our investigation.
Chief Superintendent (Ch Supt) Simon Ovens, based at New Scotland Yard, faced allegations that he:
- knowingly provided false and misleading information in a statement provided to the police for the purposes of a prosecution
- failed to check his work phone prior to writing this statement with the effect that he provided a statement that was false, misleading and inaccurate
- and those actions brought discredit on the police force and/or undermined public confidence in it.
An independently-chaired disciplinary panel found misconduct proven at a two-day hearing, organised by the force, which finished today (Thursday 26 August).
He was found to have breached the police standards of professional behaviour for duties and responsibilities. The panel found case not proven for honesty and integrity and discreditable conduct and decided there should be no further action taken against Ch Supt Ovens.
The panel was told that, on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service, he had been asked to make a witness statement in the case of Superintendent (Supt) Robyn Williams.
She was being investigated for possession of an indecent image of a child, in a video which had been sent to her by her sister via WhatsApp.
Ch Supt Ovens was the then chair of the Metropolitan and City of London branch of the Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA). The organisation represents its members’ welfare and interests.
He initially declined to make a witness statement, claiming confidentiality arising from his role at the PSA. He subsequently provided a statement on 5 June 2018.
In the statement he failed to refer to any of the voicemail calls, text messages or connected phone calls with Supt Williams on his MPS mobile on 5 February 2018.
Ch Supt Ovens' personal and MPS work phones were seized by the IOPC on 4 July 2018 and, on examination, we discovered evidence of the voicemail calls, text messages and connected phone calls.
He said his statement was made from memory and was in broad terms, but the accurate information was available on his MPS mobile phone at the time he made the statement.
As a result of this incomplete, inaccurate and misleading witness statement, the CPS did not serve the statement as part of the prosecution case.
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “Ch Supt Ovens was under an obligation to make a statement that was as full and accurate as possible.
“He is an experienced senior police officer and would have known the importance of providing accurate information on a witness statement and the implications of not doing so, which is why we directed the Met to hold a hearing for this officer.”
Our investigation began in June 2018 but was paused in November that year when criminal charges were brought against Ms Williams. Following her conviction in November 2019 it recommenced and concluded in June 2020.
We found a case to answer for gross misconduct but the MPS disagreed so we directed them to hold the hearing which has now concluded. The panel found the case was proven, but at misconduct level.
As part of our investigation, Ch Supt Ovens’ MPS and personal mobile phones were forensically examined.
The results of those examinations and other independently obtained evidence were analysed and compared with his witness statement. He was interviewed under caution and offered the opportunity to account for any apparent discrepancies between his statement and other evidence.