Kent Police’s Chief Constable has issued a formal apology to the family of a cyclist for the handling of its investigation into his death in 2011.
The victim’s widow has said that while the apology is welcome, flaws in the investigation – which the charity Cycling UK says comprised “a litany of mistakes” – mean she will never know what happened to her husband.
Richard Jordan, aged 67, was found with a fractured skull and 10 broken ribs on a country lane near his home in Old Wives Lees, Canterbury. He subsequently died from his injuries.
While police insisted there was no third party involved, they did not examine the car of a motorist who had found Mr Jordan at the scene and dialled 999.
In a recording of the 999 call played at a coroner’s inquest, a man and woman could be heard arguing about whether or not their car had hit him. The coroner recorded a finding of accidental death.
Subsequently, the police’s handling of the investigation was strongly criticised in a professional standards report and by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), although the officers involved were cleared of misconduct.
In his letter to Mr Jordan’s widow, Sue, Chief Constable Alan Pughsley referred to meetings that senior officers had held with her regarding the case, and said the force had learnt from its mistakes.
He wrote: “I am aware that through these meetings or correspondence, apologies have been offered to you and your family directly from each of these persons and my purpose for writing to you is to also state my regret that the actions of my officers were not what you would have expected.
"I am confident that we have applied the learning achieved in order to seek to avoid any such similar circumstances potentially occurring again.”
Mrs Jordan told Kent Online: “The apology has helped but it is not enough because we will no longer know what happened that day because police failed us.
"We are grateful for the formal apology, but for my family and I it is not closure.
“Following the whole ordeal, especially with the grief, it has made me feel so cynical now.”
In 2015, the case was one of several featured on the BBC TV show Victoria Derbyshire that focused on how the criminal justice system was failing cyclists.
The segment was presented by BBC journalist Anna Tatton-Brown whose father, Michael Mason, was killed while cycling in Central London.
Both his family and Mr Jordan’s have been supported by Cycling UK and the charity’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, told road.cc: “Richard Jordan’s family has been fighting for justice for nearly six years, but tragically their efforts have been thwarted due to what can only be described as a woefully inept police investigation.
“The review by Kent Police’s Professional Standards Department revealed a litany of mistakes, including the failure to conduct a forensic examination either of Richard’s bicycle or the driver’s car, the failure to take statements, the loss of pages from notebooks and the failure to treat the occupants of the vehicle involved in the fatal collision as suspects – despite the inconsistencies in their accounts and the existence of a 999 recording following the collision, where the occupants can be heard disagreeing about the chain of events.
“It is only right that the family has at last received an apology, but it shouldn’t have taken six years, and they’re far from convinced that lessons have been learned which would prevent another family being robbed of the opportunity to secure justice due to an incompetent investigation."
He added: “Cycling UK has been campaigning for greater transparency and consistency in traffic collision investigations. If ever there was a case which demonstrates why this is needed, this must be it.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.