The hidden camera

When Siôn Jenkins was first released on bail, he went to live at his parents’ home in Aberystwyth. An undertaking had been given that he would not hold any press conferences.

As they arrived at the house, there were a few journalists standing by the entrance. As Siôn Jenkins walked past they asked various questions to which he responded spontaneously. In response to the question “Are you innocent?” he paused briefly to state that he was, indeed, innocent and would prove it at retrial.

That short exchange caused a furore when it was widely reported in the media the following day. The prosecution alleged that he had broken a bail condition. The judge called a hearing in London on 6 August. Harsh words were said.

Perhaps his behaviour can be seen as naive, or at worst ill-judged. But under no circumstances could that brief encounter be deemed a ‘press conference’.

However, Siôn Jenkins remained on bail, and the feelings of the prosecution can be imagined.

Sequel

Many months later David Jenkins received an anonymous phone call. The speaker said that he should be made aware that his house had been under police surveillance. The speaker felt it was wrong that this should have happened, but did not wish to become more involved.

At that stage David Jenkins went to speak to the local police, who were not forthcoming on the subject and appeared reluctant to discuss it.

By now wanting to know more, David Jenkins conducted his own enquiries, only to learn that his home had,indeed, been under surveillance in a covert police operation. He was astounded and upset that such a thing could happen.

Once it was evident that he knew the truth about what had happened he was visited by a member of the local police force, who then revealed that the Jenkins home had had a camera trained on it for three months. He was informed that this surveillance was authorised following discussions with Sussex police. The ostensible reason was that it was for the Jenkins’ own protection.

Its alleged purpose was to prevent any trouble with those who might be hostile to Siôn Jenkins. Unsurprisingly, David Jenkins found this hard to accept.

If this arrangement had been made for the protection of his family, why would they not have been informed, so that they could have co-operated with their would-be protectors? This question elicited no helpful response.

Perhaps a more likely explanation was that if any journalist had been seen visiting the house, Siôn Jenkins would have been deemed to have broken his bail conditions and would have been taken back into custody. That, however, did not happen.

The incident smacks of entrapment, and prompts a number of questions.

  • Was it a proper use of police powers? If the answer is yes, what were the reasons, and why would David Jenkins, an innocent citizen, not be informed of what was was happening?
  • If hidden cameras are deemed acceptable, what other — unknown — form of surveillance might he have been subjected to? Where does police ‘protection’ begin and end?
  • If the answer is ‘no’ — what were Sussex police engaged in?

David Jenkins is still owed an apology, or at least a proper explanation.