Questions asked of lead investigator in collapsed Bristol FGM case and her relationship with key witness

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

The three day trial cost an estimated £10,000 before it was thrown out of Bristol Crown Court by a judge

Questions have been asked of the senior police officer in a landmark female genital mutilation case thrown out of court due to insufficient evidence and her relationship with a key witness.

DCI Leanne Pook, of Avon and Somerset Police, led the investigation after campaigner Sami Ullah claimed a cab driver from Bristol had allowed his daughter to undergo a form of FGM.

But last week, after three days on trial at Bristol Crown Court, a judge threw the “deeply troubling” case out – extinguishing any hopes the prosecution had of securing the UK’s first ever FGM conviction.

National newspaper The Mail on Sunday has since made a number of claims regarding DCI Pook and her relationship with Mr Ullah.

According to the paper, DCI Pook is a trustee of the anti-FGM charity where Mr Ullah worked and has known him in a personal capacity for several years.

The paper also reported it was DCI Pook who first took Mr Ullah’s police statement, in which he alleged the taxi driver had said his daughter had undergone a form of FGM in Bristol.
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By June 2016, three months after the alleged conversation between Mr Ullah and the driver, DCI Pook had been made a trustee of Integrate – the anti-FGM charity Mr Ullah worked for at the time.

After Mr Ullah reported the cab driver to police, the man’s six-year-old daughter was examined by two experts for evidence of FGM but only one identified a possible mark.

During an interview with police, the 29-year-old Somali driver insisted he was against FGM and called his passenger a “liar” for claiming they discussed the practice.

The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was charged with assaulting / ill-treating / neglecting a child or young person to cause unnecessary suffering or injury on June 13 last year

The judge called the prosecution “deeply troubling”, described Mr Ullah’s evidence as “inconsistent” and said the medical evidence in the case was “inconclusive at its highest”.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, told the Mail on Sunday DCI Pook’s and Mr Ullah’s relationship in the case was a “conflict of interest”.

“That is unbelievable – it’s a total conflict of interest,” he said. “This shows there are major issues at Avon and Somerset Police – the force is losing credibility with the public it’s there to serve.”

In a short statement, Avon and Somerset Police confirmed DCI Pook took Mr Ullah’s initial statement, and that her role in the case was senior investigating officer.

After being cleared of any wrongdoing, the father said in a statement released by his solicitors: “The investigation by the police began in 2016.

“It has placed an intolerable pressure upon him and his family.

“He wishes to thank his wife and the wider community for their support throughout this process.

“He is very pleased that the proceedings are finally over.”

 Source: – Bristol Post