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  1. ITV Report

Cleveland Police Officers awarded £3000 after their mobile phones were unlawful monitored

Stephen Matthews and Mark Dias had their mobile phones monitored by Cleveland Police Photo: ITV Tyne Tees

Two former Cleveland Police officers have been awarded compensation after powers designed to combat terrorism were unlawfully used to investigate them.

Mark Dias and Stephen Matthews will each be paid £3000 by the force, which effectively spied on their mobile phones.

In January the Cleveland force apologised for unlawfully using powers intended to investigate terrorism to monitor the mobile phones of former officers and journalists.

Cleveland Police used Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) legislation to monitor the times and durations of calls made by the officers, two journalists and a solicitor for four months in 2012.

The tribunal has awarded the compensation to Mark Dias and Stephen Matthews saying:

The use of intrusive powers is a matter which went directly to their entire future careers and reputations.

– Investigatory Powers Tribunal

Cleveland Police accepted it had acted unlawfully at a previous tribunal in January 2017. After the award of compensation it released this statement:

The Chief Constable has previously contacted those originally identified as being affected by this and apologised in person.

A large amount of work is underway to ensure that such activity as occurred in 2012 doesn’t happen again and that lessons are learned. This work includes the ongoing review of professional standards and an external review of RIPA authorisations relating to professional standards and spanning the last six years. Following the IPT ruling in January Cleveland Police received a number of complaints linked to the judgment. We referred these mandatorily to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which determined that they could be investigated locally. However, the Force decided that it should identify another police force to investigate these complaints and is currently in the process of discussing ‘terms of reference’ with another UK police force before an agreement is formally reached. The Force feels that this independence is important taking into account the matters raised and this investigation will determine any next steps.

– Cleveland Police

The Conservative Mayor of the Tees Valley has called for an independent commission to investigate Cleveland Police.

Today’s judgment shows just how critical it is that I push ahead with my election pledge to launch an independent commission into Cleveland Police. We need a police force that does justice to the hugely important work of our frontline officers – the men and women who work night and day to keep communities safe. They need to be properly supported by an organisation which enjoys full public confidence.

I am a staunch believer in a free and independent press. Our strict anti-terrorism laws are there to be used in the interests of protecting national security, not to enable the police to pursue journalists and whistle-blowers. Cleveland Police now need to take on board the findings and embrace this opportunity to put an end to this truly unacceptable chapter in the force’s history.

– Ben Houchen, Mayor of the Tees Valley