Detective Jailed Over Sex Assaults

A judge has called for an inquiry into an 11-month delay between a police officer being arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting two women while on duty and him being charged.

Metropolitan Police detective constable Clifford Earl was jailed for 12 months today for groping two women in 2011.

But Southwark Crown Court heard that although he was arrested and interviewed in February 2012, he was not charged until January this year.

The court heard that the original investigating officer in the case was the reason for some of the delay - for reasons not explained in court - and she was removed from the inquiry before he was eventually charged.

She has also been removed from the unit she worked for at the time, the court heard.

As he sentenced Earl, 57, who targeted two vulnerable women in their own homes in July and September 2011, Judge Michael Gledhill QC said: "You were finally charged on January 10 this year, that's a delay of about 11 months.

"I'm told the cause of the delay, one of the causes, was the officer in charge was responsible for the delay.

"I have not been told, despite asking, what was done to cause the delay but only that she had been removed from the case.

"An inquiry as to what happened to cause this delay should be conducted by the appropriate police authority."

The detective responsible for the delay was not named in court.

Prosecutor Catherine Farrelly told the judge: "Not only was she removed from being responsible for this investigation, she has been removed from the investigating unit.

"The delay, or one of the delays, was failings on her part to progress the case in the way that she should.

"I'm also told there were delays in obtaining the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service."

She also added that one of the complainants considered withdrawing from the prosecution, which had also led to some delay.