Charlene file access claims

Charlene Downes
Charlene Downes
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A POLICE worker is facing allegations he wrongly accessed information relating to the Charlene Downes murder inquiry.

Donald Fraser appeared at the High court yesterday amid claims he viewed senior investigating officers’ reports while trying to help a police officer who was facing a disciplinary investigation relating to the missing Blackpool school girl’s case.

Charlene has never been seen since she disappeared in November 2003.

One man was charged with murdering the teenager and the other disposing of her body after she went missing.

But the jury failed to reach a verdict in 2007 and a re-trial collapsed when prosecutors withdrew the charges and the judge ordered not guilty verdicts be returned on both defendants

It led to an independent inquiry into the way Lancashire Police investigated the disappearance by The Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The court heard Fraser, of Blackpool, was suspended in April last year after allegedly accessing a Home Office computer database and passing information onto a third party.

He was told by his employer, Lancashire Police, he was subject to an “adverse report” relating to the allegations.

But his lawyers yesterday challenged the force’s refusal to withdraw that report, arguing it was “unreasonable, unlawful and procedurally unfair” not to do so.

His legal team said he had been perfectly entitled to access the information and any monitoring of his emails by his employer was a breach of legal professional privilege.

But Mrs Justice Sharp refused to order a judicial review of Mr Fraser’s complaints yesterday.

She said: “The claim is premature as the claimant has not exhausted his alternative remedies.

“All the points he has raised can and should be raised initially in the internal disciplinary proceedings, which also afford an internal right of appeal.

“Depending upon the outcome of these disciplinary proceedings, he may have the right of redress either in a court of law or an employment tribunal.”