Former Liverpool BNP Candidate Wins Case in the High Court
A FORMER Liverpool underworld figure has won a legal battle forcing police to return personal CCTV footage of an arson attack at his home.
Joey Owens has fought for four years to have a recording of events outside his mum’s property in Dovecot which was petrol bombed.
Merseyside police kept the camera footage from the far-right sympathiser fearing he might take revenge against any perpetrator he recognised.
But this week the Royal Court of Justices ruled the CCTV remained Mr Owen’s property and ordered Merseyside Police to hand it back.
Top judge Sir John Thomas said the house where Owens, who was a leading member of the British National Party, lived with his mum was deliberately set on fire on June 6 2008.
During the police investigation a video from Mr Owens’ s CCTV system was taken away by police, which showed a petrol can sitting by the front door.
A suspect was visible, but the image was so unclear that no identification was possible.
The investigation was later closed and Merseyside Police refused to return the video – close to a time when Mr Owens had released a book exposing police informants and “wannabe gangsters” in Liverpool, said the judge.
Mr Owens told police he had received threats to petrol bomb his home; identified a possible suspect who had threatened him and said that, as a result of the book’s publication, there would be others with grievances against him.
However, police took the view that Mr Owens was “not co-operating” with the inquiry and that, if the video was handed back to him, he “would seek revenge against a person who would either be the actual offender or a mistaken innocent third party”.
Mr Owens said he might be able to recognise the offender from his stance, or gait, and told officers “that he hoped the police would find out who did it before he did, as he did not want to go back to prison”.
The judge added that Mr Owens “had a violent past and had stood trial for murder”, a nod to him being charged with killing security boss George Bromley in 1998 – an accusation dropped after a key prosecution witness withdrew his evidence.
However, ordering the Chief Constable to return the video to Mr Owens, Sir John said a “fundamental constitutional principle” was at stake and the interests of society in effective crime fighting had to be balanced against individual freedoms.
Merseyside police simply had “no power” to retain Mr Owens’s private property after the investigation when the reason for its original seizure no longer applied.
The judge said that, regardless of what the police believed might happen, there had been “no findings” made by a court that Mr Owens would in fact “use the tape to enable him to commit a criminal act”.