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Les Balkwell's complaint against Kent Chief Constable Ian Learmonth to be investigated by outside police force

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Les Balkwell's complaint against Kent Chief Constable Ian Learmonth to be investigated by outside police force

Post by Tony Bennett on 16.12.13 10:48

Please also see earlier threads for the previous history concerning the death of Lee Balkwell 18.07.2002.


MEDIA RELEASE – LES BALKWELL – Monday 15 December 2013, 11.00am – Immediate



Initial investigation botched by Anne Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, and by the IPCC

Les Balkwell, father of Lee Balkwell, who has campaigned for 11½ years for the truth about his son’s death, has learnt that his complaint against Ian Learmonth is to be investigated by a senior officer from an outside police force.

Les Balkwell complained in June against Ian Learmonth, the Chief Constable of Kent Police, which for the past three years has been re-investigating Lee’s death. Les complained after discovering that at the very time in 2002 and 2003 when senior Essex Police officers were conducting what the IPCC later found was a ‘seriously flawed’ investigation into Lee’s death, Ian Learmonth was Essex Police’s Assistant Chief Constable for its Crime Division.

The IPCC had called in a damning 2009 report for the death of Lee Balkwell to be investigated by an outside police force. Les Balkwell, after finding out about Ian Learmonth’s senior role in Essex POlice, complained that Ian Learmonth should have refused Essex Police’s request for Kent Police to conduct a new re-investigation.

Not only had Ian Learmonth been in a managerial role in the Essex Police Crime Division in 2002-3, he had also set up, together with Essex Police, the joint Kent-Essex Serious and Organised Crime Directorate KESOCD), which meant that serious crime in the two counties was effectively being investigated by the same joint unit.  Still worse, the Deputy Head of the KESOCD (and later its Head) was Gareth Wilson, who had been the senior officer on call the night Lee Balkwell was reported dead. Wilson was criticised by the 2004 IPCC investigation into Essex Police’s actions in the Balkwell case, and again found guilty of misconduct by the IPCC in its second investigation, concluded in 2012, for (a) failing to carry out an effective initial investigation on attending the scene and (b) failing to identity appropriate witnesses and ensure they were interviewed.

Ian Learmonth recently announced his retirement from Kent Police.

Earlier in the year, the IPCC wrongly advised Ann Barnes that Les Balkwell’s complaint should be dealt with by a ‘local resolution’ procedure. Ann Barnes then carried out a low-key investigation – which we say was wholly inadequate. It cleared Ian Learmonth of all blame.

But in a letter received by Les Balkwell last week, Ann Barnes’s Chief of Staff, Mike Stepney, told Les Balkwell: “The IPCC have acknowledged that unfortunately their advice was in error…their staff will be given advice on this matter to prevent its reoccurrence”.

The letter to Les continued: “We will now find an officer of senior rank with the necessary experience from outside of Kent and Essex to investigate your complaint”.

Tony Bennett, the former Solicitor who has assisted Les for the past six years, commented: “The whole way Les’s complaint has been handled has been shambolic by all concerned. Kent Police should never have agreed to re-investigate this case as they were always inextricably linked to Essex by all sorts of joint working arrangements. The revelation that Ian Learmonth was Assistant Chief Constable in Essex at the very time that Essex Police were conducting a flawed investigation - which Les has always maintained was corrupt -  is yet another reason why Lee’s death now needs to be investigated once again, this time by a police force with no ties whatsoever to Essex Police”.


Letter from Ann Barnes to Les Balkwell, December 2013 - can be faxed

Letters of complaint to Ann Barnes and the IPCC  - can be faxed or e-mailed


Tony Bennett 01279 635789 Mobile 07835 716537

Les Balkwell 01708 446850 Mobiles 07908 752522, 07925 999607

Kent Police & Crime Commissioner (Ann Barnes)  01622 677055



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Tony Bennett

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Re: Les Balkwell's complaint against Kent Chief Constable Ian Learmonth to be investigated by outside police force

Post by PeterMac on 16.12.13 11:17

Well done, Sir.



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Re: Les Balkwell's complaint against Kent Chief Constable Ian Learmonth to be investigated by outside police force

Post by aiyoyo on 16.12.13 14:41

Shocking at the crass negligence and ignorant of the Sr Police not to recognise the fundamental rule of not compromising investigation if there's conflict of interest.
Just to rectify their apathy mentality and mistakes is so time consuming , time wasting and agonising for family of victim.

When this is finally resolved, it will still not be totally in a satisfactory manner since the Sr. retired police officer can no longer be made to be accountable and probably wont face any adverse consequence if at all.

In the finished, the final resolution for the victim family will have come too late and too little. It's just a frustrating process to get justice.

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The wheels grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small

Post by PeterMac on 22.12.13 8:38
Cover-up claim over police chief's role in lorry 'killing' probe as constable announces plans to retire months after quietly investigating own unit
Ian Learmonth led probe into Essex police inquiry into Lee Balkwell's death
Chief Constable of Kent however worked for Essex force at time of incident
The victim's father called for an outside police unit to investigate in June
Mr Learmonth will retire in January 3 before a new probe gets underway
Lee Balkwell was found dead in a cement mixer in 2002
Essex police ruled his death was the result of a 'tragic accident'
Kent police reopened investigation in 2010 after series of reviews
The deceased's boss was last month charged with manslaughter

21 December 2013
Ian Learmonth and Ann Barnes are accused of keeping complaints into police's handling of the case quiet
Police chiefs have been accused of a cover-up as one of Britain’s most senior officers prepares to retire while secretly being investigated over an alleged conflict of interest.
Ian Learmonth, chief constable of Kent, was reported to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in July over a review of the police inquiry into the death of Lee Balkwell, who was found dead in a cement mixer lorry in 2002.
Mr Learmonth faces criticism for letting his officers in Kent investigate how Essex Police handled the case because he himself was working for the Essex force at the time of the original inquiry.
Neither Kent Police nor the force’s elected crime tsar, Ann Barnes, who referred the case to the IPCC, have made the complaint – by Mr Balkwell’s father, Les – public.
Mr Learmonth announced he was retiring in October and will step down on January 3, before the probe begins.
Les Balkwell, who has campaigned relentlessly for justice for his son, said: ‘I made my complaint in June and, six months later, Ann Barnes has not even found an outside force to take on the investigation.
‘I am not surprised to see more attempts to cover up the truth about my son’s death. Mr Learmonth has questions to answer about his role in Essex.
'He should not have been allowed to retire.’
Lee Balkwell, 33, was working as a cement mixer driver for Upminster Concrete when his body was discovered in July 2002 stuck between the drum and chassis of a mixer lorry on an Essex farm.
Despite suspicions of foul play, the death was ruled a ‘tragic accident’ by Essex Police.

In 2010, after a series of reviews, it was announced that Kent Police would look into the case.
Last year, the IPCC ruled that the original inquiry by Essex Police was ‘seriously flawed’, and in March Lee’s body was exhumed by detectives.

Lee Balkwell (left) was found dead in a cement mixer in 2002. Last month his boss Simon Bromley (right) was charged with manslaughter
Last month, company boss Simon Bromley was charged with manslaughter.
Earlier this year, Mr Balkwell discovered Mr Learmonth had been assistant chief constable at Essex in late 2002, at the time of the original inquiry.
Mr Balkwell then wrote to Mrs Barnes, Kent’s police and crime commissioner, to complain.
On July 1, Mrs Barnes’s office referred the complaint to the IPCC, but this decision was not made public.
The IPCC told Mrs Barnes that an investigation had to be carried out, but did not specify by whom.
The complaint was initially resolved locally. In early October, Mr Learmonth announced his retirement, but again no mention was made of the complaint.
Mr Balkwell appealed against the dismissal of his complaint, and this was upheld by the IPCC, which ruled his concern had to be looked at externally.
Earlier this month, Mrs Barnes’s office wrote to Mr Balkwell to inform him Mr Learmonth’s involvement would be considered by a senior officer ‘ from outside of Kent and Essex’.
Again, this decision was not made public.
Mrs Barnes posted a photograph of herself with Mr Learmonth and his retirement cake, in the shape of a police helmet, on Twitter last week.

Kent Police said: ‘Ian Learmonth was a temporary assistant chief constable at Essex Police in 2002 for three months and was at no time involved in the original investigation into Mr Balkwell’s death.
Mr Learmonth did not have line-management responsibility for the investigation and had no involvement in any review of the investigation.’
A spokesman for Mrs Barnes said only the most serious cases involving gross misconduct have to be publicised.



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