In Part 1 – I have discussed why letting Sherlock into ongoing police investigations and crime scenes is illegal. I have also discussed in detail why an informal arrangement would have benefited Mycroft, Sherlock and Lestrade much more than gaining official access for Sherlock.
In Part 3: I explore what will happen after the Fall:
- What consequences would Lestrade face after Sherlock’s “exposure” as a fraud?
- Would Lestrade lose his job?
- What criminal charges could be brought against Lestrade? How likely is it he will go to jail?
- Would Mycroft step in? And what could he do?
Crossing The Rubicon
From the Reichenbach Fall we can see that the Chief Superintendent did not know that Lestrade was using Sherlock as an offical “consulting detective”. The police do authorise outside help on large cases but these people have to be vetted, approved and have metric tonnes of paperwork completed before they are allowed to join any police investigation. Real consulting detectives tend to be retired police officers who already understand and adhere to police protocol.
The reason why the police have to stick to their protocol is so that the Crown Prosecution Service can actually use the evidence they gather in a court of law to secure a conviction. The CPS is a justice department that brings prosecutions against people or organisations that have potentially broken the law.
If the quality of the evidence of something as serious as a murder trial is in any doubt, this has the potential to allow even an obviously guilty suspect to walk free.
I discussed in Part 1 that allowing Sherlock, a civilian, onto a crime scene without the necessary authorisation from the police is a criminal offense. Sherlock doesn’t follow police procedure: he withholds vital evidence from the police, delays their enquiries by refusing to share information, and wilfully contaminates forensic evidence (all in the Study in Pink episode).
If it comes to light that the police have actually been giving Sherlock Holmes complete access to their criminal investigations – nearly all the convictions on the cases he has worked on have the legal potential to be overturned.
Lestrade, Sally and the rest of their team, as well as all the other Met officers who have allowed Sherlock access may face criminal charges.
For more information on why it was incredibly brave of Sally to tell the Chief Superintendent about Sherlock read Part 2.
Facing the Music
The Metropolitan Police Force will have to conduct a full internal investigation into the CID, as it is obvious one or more of their officers have seriously breached the police code of conduct. It is most likely that Lestrade and the rest of the team will be suspended from active duty whilst the investigation is going on, because their competence has been called into question.
At the same time, the Independent Police Complaints Commission may also be investigating this debacle on behalf of the public, and perhaps even on the behalf of criminals who have been put behind bars as a result of investigations conducted by Lestrade’s team.
Both these investigations will take months to complete in full. However, it will not take long for witnesses to come forwards to testify that Sherlock was at crime scenes and that he did have full access to sensitive information about ongoing investigations. I very much doubt that DI Dimmock (TBB), or DI Carter (ASiB) would be willing/able to lie about Sherlock’s involvement in their investigations. It may also come to light very quickly that Lestrade did not have the approval of his seniors, particularly when the Chief Superintendent (seen in TRF) starts kicking up a fuss as he clearly wasn’t informed about Sherlock.
This is probably enough evidence for Lestrade to be arrested – on the basis that he knowingly allowed an unauthorised civilian into his investigations and served as a conduit for this man to enter several other investigations for other teams.
It is important to remember that arrest does not equate to being charged. There have to be significant amounts of good quality evidence for Lestrade to actually be charged. There is actually no good quality/concrete proof that Lestrade knew Sherlock was not an authorised consulting detective. I have already discussed in detail why other DIs who have worked with Sherlock may not know he is an unauthorised consulting detective in Part 1.
Firstly, it is not simply a matter of pulling up Sherlock’s information in an open access database. HR information is very restricted especially in public services like the police and the NHS. DI Lestrade and his counterparts may not be able to simply log onto a computer and check Sherlock’s background. They need to make the equivalent of a written demand for information from the HR department. This will take time and effort. It is definitely not something anyone would do on a whim or a hunch. Secondly, not all consulting detectives are listed in central databases because they work on a free lance basis, and many can go years without ever actively participating in a case. They have all their paperwork completed but there is no handy database with a list of all the authorised consulting detectives the Met uses. Real life simply isn’t as simple as fiction.
The major sticking point for any police officer trying to charge Lestrade is that he can easily plead he had been the victim of a complex con. This makes him look like an incompetent police officer who clearly didn’t follow procedure, but it makes it very hard to charge Lestrade with wilfully perverting the course of justice (more on this later). However, I do not think that Lestrade is willing to lie about his own involvement even if it means he has the potential to escape a criminal conviction. I think that despite his maverick disregard for protocol, Lestrade respects the law and the police enough to face up to what he has done and bear the consequences.
Regardless of whether he is charged or not, Lestrade will face the very real prospect of losing his job at the Met over this debacle simply because his actions regarding Sherlock, no matter how they are interpreted, have produced a catastrophe for the Met Police Force.
A Not So Clean Slate
Whether or not he is allowed to continue working as a police officer is an internal decision made by the CID division of the Met police. There are many factors that come into play over this decision and there does not appear to be a completely transparent set of standards to which the police adhere to in terms of actually sacking their officers.
For example: the policemen who were involved in the Hillsborough disaster and later covered up their gross misconduct have only just started to be fully investigated by an external IPCC. The internal investigation was conducted, but gave a very convenient conclusion for the police. A cynic would say that the police are more interested in preserving their image than making sure their members face justice, certainly many pressure groups have developed over the years to campaign for more police transparency and to combat police corruption.
Given the potentially disastrous consequences of Lestrade’s actions, it is very likely that the police would decide to down-play this entire incident as much as possible. It is very important that the public do not lose any more trust in the police, particularly against the backdrop of several other negative reports about police conduct including Plebgate
We do not have the full text of Kitty Riley’s expose; there is a slim chance the police could keep their involvement from entering the media limelight. After all, Sherlock is free to run his own investigations as a private detective and hand information over to the police as a member of the public. There may be nothing in the article to suggest that he was illegally trampling over crime scenes. Alternatively, Sherlock’s unauthorised access may be part of the main scoop, we just don’t know.
It is possible that Lestrade could keep his position. This means that even if concerns are raised regarding his associations with Sherlock by the media, the police can deny any wrongdoing on their part. If they sack Lestrade, the media would have much more fodder for speculation and accusation. If they keep Lestrade on and proceed with business as usual, they can downplay Sherlock’s contributions, saying that they treated his information in the same way that they treat all information from the general public. After all, the police do not have to publish information regarding their internal investigations, past or ongoing. No one can prove that Sherlock’s information was definitive to solving the investigations.
Regardless of whether the police want to cover up this incident from the glaring eyes of the media, Lestrade is still in very big trouble. Even though the police do not want information about Sherlock getting out and thus would not want to publically sack Lestrade, he would still be blacklisted by his superiors. Any chances of promotion would be history and his entire team would most likely be ostracized. The important cases will most likely be diverted to other teams, whereas Lestrade may find himself managing small-time cat-burglars and antisocial behaviour that has got out of hand.
As I discussed in Part 1 – Lestrade can easily present Sherlock’s contribution as a legitimate part of his investigation. He followed a lead given to him by a member of the public and he discovered the evidence. Most of Sherlock’s deductions are not linearly logical and would be useless in a court of law because it would be very difficult to convince a jury that just because someone’s ring was polished on the inside, she was having an affair. Thus after Sherlock pinpoints the culprit, Lestrade merely has to gather more concrete forensic evidence (which is fairly easy as long as he knows how and where to search) to support his actual investigation.
However, Lestrade being able to keep his position is not guaranteed. I hope that the police would have the integrity to admit what happened to the public and instigate appropriate action. So if Lestrade were to face legal consequences what would they be?
The Course of Justice
Although I am not a lawyer and have no legal experience, I have consulted some friends at the Crown Prosecution Service. The consensus is that there is definitely a case against Lestrade, however the chances of winning this case could be quite slim.
Lestrade and his team can be charged by the police with several criminal offenses which fall under three broad categories (to be discussed later). However, being charged does not equate to being prosecuted for an offense.
The CPS decides who to prosecute, i.e. which criminal cases they wish to pursue in court. Usually, the police have a very good idea of what cases will be prosecuted based on the evidence they have gathered and therefore charges do correlate well with prosecutions. Firstly, the CPS has to assess the quality of the evidence that the police have gathered. Depending on the seriousness of the charge, the quality of evidence has to stand up to the toughest scrutiny. In criminal cases, one must prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty and all the burden of proof is on the prosecution. There is very little point in taking a case to court based on inadequate evidence because it would not result in a conviction and end up costing the CPS a great deal of money.
If the case passes the evidence check, it then has to pass the public interest check. CPS act on behalf of the Crown for the good of the public. There are many cases that have never been tried because they have been deemed not in the public interest. The CPS typically considers several different factors at this stage including: how serious the offense is, how culpable the defendant is, what the impact of the crime has had on the victim(s) and the wider community, and whether prosecution is a proportionate response?
Whether or not Lestrade is prosecuted depends very much on the both the evidence against him – including his own statements when questioned, and how the CPS view the entire “fake genius” debacle with regards to public opinion. Lestrade’s offense has a huge impact on both the criminals convicted through his investigations with Sherlock, and the families of the victims seeking justice because these convictions can now be challenged and successfully overturned. If they choose to prosecute him, they may be exasperating the public’s mistrust in the police but to not prosecute would be seen as failing to uphold justice.
In the light of this, I believe that the CPS would decide to go ahead with a prosecution. However this does not mean they will succeed in securing a conviction.
These are the most appropriate criminal offenses that Lestrade would be charged with:
1. Perverting the course of public justice  - this is a very broad charge and can include anything from wasting police time to actively subverting a police investigation. Lestrade, by allowing Sherlock unauthorised access to crime scenes which now puts many investigation and prosecutions into jeopardy, has perverted the course of justice. However what the prosecution needs to prove is that he did this with intent i.e. he planned to subvert the police investigations. This is the hard part because the burden of proof is on the prosecution and Lestrade can argue that he had no intent. In fact he intended the exact opposite.
2. Misconduct in Public Office  - Lestrade can be charged for using his position both as a Detective Inspector to allow Sherlock unauthorised access to crime scenes, police investigations and sensitive data. In order to successfully convict the prosecution have to prove that Lestrade willfully misconducted himself in the course of being a police officer so much that it amounts to an abuse of public trust (fairly easy) and there was no reasonable excuse or justification (not so easy).
Again Lestrade's defense team can argue that he was honestly attempting to further in the investigation by using Sherlock,
3. Concealing an arrestable offence  - by not reporting Sherlock's access to crime scenes and police investigations - Lestrade and his entire team have technically concealed an arrestable offence. However, what the prosecution have to prove is that Lestrade and his team knew Lestrade/Sherlock had committed an offence and willfully refused to report it, and if they had reported it - the information would have been material to a successful prosecution.
Now there are a lot of "ifs" in this whole scenario. The prosecution has a lot to prove and with all the burden of proof on them, securing a conviction for Lestrade/his team is by no means an easy task. The most likely strategy for the defense is to bring up Lestrade’s previous service record and a polished version of his personal life/character. They would portray Lestrade as an honest police officer who merely wanted to do his best of the victims of crime. If Lestrade was honest during his questioning, this would count very much in his favour. The prosecution, on the other hand, would be doing their best to portray Lestrade as a crooked cop who wanted to use Sherlock as a short cut to fame and glory.
Sally, Anderson and the rest of the team could play the complete ignorance card as their defense, even if they did actually know that Sherlock was not officially employed as a consulting detective. Again, I am not sure that Sally would lie about this during the investigation. Although she may not treat Sherlock particularly professionally, she has very logical reasons for this behaviour (Nuclear Meltdown at the Met - Part 2). I do not think that Sally is consistently petty or unprofessional in her dealings with people other than Sherlock (In Defense of Sally Donovan). Just become someone treats Sherlock badly does not mean they completely lack integrity. Sally, after all, bought Sherlock’s involvement in a serious case to the attention of her superiors despite knowing what the legal consequences would be for her.
I think it is unlikely that the prosecution will secure a conviction on every member of Lestrade’s team or even Lestrade himself if they have excellent defense lawyers.
A Helping Umbrella
I discussed in Part 1 that Mycroft has most likely arranged an informal agreement with Lestrade about Sherlock’s involvement in his cases. It stayed an information agreement because this was mutually beneficial for both parties (for detailed reasons read part 1). After all Mycroft did not plan for his brother to very publically jump off a building and be branded as fraud when he first set up this arrangement. Saving Lestrade legal trouble is not the first and foremost thing on Mycroft’s mind. In the series, there is no evidence that Mycroft sees Lestrade as anything more useful than a free babysitter to keep Sherlock occupied and happy.
However, Lestrade is useful to Mycroft. I am of the firm opinion that Mycroft was very much involved in Sherlock’s “death” (How Molly and Sherlock Faked his Death). Therefore Mycroft must be planning for the day when Sherlock comes back from the dead and is in need of cases once again.
The best way for Mycroft to help Lestrade is to keep the status quo.
I subscribe to theory that Mycroft is uniquely positioned and uniquely powerful. He is like nothing that has ever come before (Mycroft and his Shadowy Masters). His reach extends more or less into every government department, including the police. After all, the police can be very useful to a man in Mycroft’s positions if they can be directed. My theory of Mycroft’s power is very much a patron/client network cultivated over many years. He is the agent people must go through into order to accomplish important things. He controls the network; matching demand to supply and in the process captivates more people into his web of connections through their obligation to him. Like a spider, his web grows ever more outwards.
I think the most logical way in which Mycroft can help Lestrade is by pressurising the police to allow Lestrade to keep his position, if his illegal doings have not been exposed by the media. They have every incentive to keep this debacle quiet and if Mycroft offers certain assurances that the politicians will not call for a full external inquiry, he can easily steer them in the direction he wants.
If the police simply cannot go down that route because they have already been exposed by the media and the CPS wanted to prosecute in order to reassure the public that they take wrongdoing by police officers very serious, all Mycroft really has to do is find an experience defense barrister. There is every chance that Lestrade will walk away without any convictions.
If what Lestrade is accused of doing is transparently reported to the public and he is proclaimed not guilty, it may actually help to reassure people that this police officer did act with integrity and was only trying to do the best for the public.
Once the media storm has died down enough, it is possible for Lestrade to be quietly reinstated into his old post through some cajoling on Mycroft’s part. After all, he is technically an innocent man and he was cleared in court. He is never going to popular with his bosses or his co-workers but this does not mean he cannot be reinstated as a DI if someone high in the command chain felt it was appropriate. I believe that Lestrade is a very good police officer in his own right and his colleagues do recognize this as they are willing to put up with Sherlock on his advice. Losing him as a DI would actually be detrimental to the CID, so there is a logical case for his reinstatement.