Operation Countryman (Paperback)
The Flawed Enquiry into London Police Corruption
In the summer of 1978, rumours emerged from the underworld that huge sums of money had been paid to the City of London Police to water-down evidence and arrange bail in cases of armed robbery. Then it was suggested that Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad was also involved.
The Home Secretary appointed the Dorset Police to investigate but it became clear to the criminals upon whom they relied to provide evidence that they were completely out of their depth. One line of enquiry after another became hopelessly compromised.
While the investigation was known officially as Operation COUNTRYMAN, things were so bad that the team were variously nicknamed ‘The Swedey’ and ‘Malice in Blunderland’.
Despite a four year enquiry costing £4,000,000, eight Metropolitan police officers were acquitted and just two City of London officers were imprisoned. Operation COUNTRYMAN had little to do with that success; the convictions resulted from the fearlessness of a City of London policeman.
The Author, a former Metropolitan police officer has used his knowledge and contacts to lift the lid on the shambolic COUNTRYMAN enquiry. He pulls no punches.
Dick Kirby gives a meticulously detailed account of the whole affair, drawing extensively on recollections from those involved, although some refused to co-operate with him.Police History Society
Kirby’s well-rehearsed antipathy to (a) senior officers who were not career detectives and (b) police from forces outside the Met means that the Operation’s team of provincial, uniformed officers come in for a hard time from him.
Dick Kirby has done it again. Operation Countryman was on every police officers lips in the late 70's and 80's and Dick outlines in depth the flaws of the investigation. I for one couldn't put the book down and read it in 2 days, to say it brought back memories would be an understatement. Imagine my surprise when in one chapter Dick refers to an Armed Robbery in Redhill, the hairs literally stood up on the back of my neck. As a young Plod fresh out of training school, Redhill was my beat that day and I vividly remember the radio call and what went through my head as I headed towards. I'm glad to say it was all over on arrival and the villains had fled.Steve Collins, Author
I can now see why Dick continues to write while alas I don't, but I will certainly continue to read and Dicks books will be top of the list.
Only an insider with the engaging style of Dick Kirby, could have produced this nakedly forthright page-turner, a suspenseful, sometimes humorous, warts-and-all story of the internal police investigation dubbed Operation Countryman.Joe Wambaugh
In Dick Kirby's opinion, 'Operation Countryman' was, in the annals of police anti-corruption investigation, a monumental catastrophe which wrecked careers, lives and reputations. 'Countryman' sliced through the fabric of public confidence in the police, leaving in its wake a toxic legacy.London Police Pensioner
When 'Countryman' officers tangled with wily London criminals, who manipulatively promised 'info' on bent CID officers in exchange for courtroom favours, their investigative inexperience was exposed. The criminals predictably failed to deliver.
Dick Kirby's pedigree as a highly successful NSY detective is undisputed. A CID officer throughout the 'Operation Countryman' era, the 1970s, he is uniquely placed to draw on those sources which really matter: the individual recollections of those left destroyed by 'Countryman'; court records and parliamentary records are all used to grant cogency and authority to this meticulous and outstanding volume of police history.
Kirby questions the foolish decision to allow officers from rural constabularies to lead the anti-corruption investigation in to the Met and City of London Police's CID. To it's continuing shame, the Government has refused to reveal the conclusions of 'Operation Countryman', citing public interest reasons. Do those conclusions tall with Kirby's - that 'Countryman' was, in the overall scheme of policing London, much ado about very little at all? Did 'Countryman' serve only to feed the myth that corruption for financial gain was endemic in London's CID? That myth will not die, which is why this excellent book is compulsive reading.