Guest blog by Meg Howarth
New information has come to light about the data Brent Council handed to the police in the case of the Kensal Rise Library alleged fraudulent email affair. In a response to a query about the five ISP addresses used to post the fake comments in support of Andrew Gillick's original planning application, a senior council officer has revealed that 'the Council did provide the Police with all the IP addresses and details of how Council officers had linked these to Mr Gillick or his company via open source research'.
This is the full text of the response:
Dear Ms HowarthI write further to your previous emails resting with your email dated 16 January 2015 and I apologise for the delay in responding to you.In response to your query, Council officers did not obtain the ISP subscriber details. The Council does not have the power to force the ISP Providers to disclose the subscriber details. However, the Council did provide the Police with all the IP addresses and details of how Council officers had linked these to Mr Gillick or his company via open source research.As for the Police and the CPS, you will need to raise those queries with them.As I stated previously in my e-mail dated 23 December 2014, if you have any queries regarding the decision of the CPS not to pursue this matter, they should be addressed to the partnership Brent Borough Chief Inspector, Andy Jones.Yours sincerely
As stated on a previous blog (No prosecution in the Kensal Rise Library case - December 23rd 2014) 'it seems that the key to ultimately tracking back an IP address to a user is to engage with the ISP and get it (or force it via a judge) to release the data showing which client was issued with what IP address at a particular time of day'. The question is, therefore: did Brent police seek the ISP subscriber details before handing over its dossier to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)? If not, why not?
It was on 19 December 2014, in the run-up to the Xmas holidays, that the CPS advised Brent's Audit and Investigation Unit that 'there is insufficient evidence to proceed against Andrew Gillick'. In a New Year's Day interview with the Brent and Kilburn Times, a CPS spokesman elaborated: 'Having carefully considered all the material supplied we have decided there was insufficient evidence to support a realistic prospect of conviction in this case. The evidence did not prove this to the required standard and we therefore advised the police that no further action should be taken'.
So if Brent police didn't seek the ISP subscriber details, did the CPS do so instead? If it didn't, how could it conclude that the 'required standard' of evidence for a prosecution in the fraudulent email affair was unproven? A reply from Brent's partnership borough chief inspector and the CPS is awaited.