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Police failed to carry out proper investigation into TV presenter’s death, family say

Police failed to carry out proper investigation into TV presenter’s death, family say

Teresa McMahon

Teresa McMahon, whose family say police refused her information on her former partner’s record – CENTRAL NEWS/WEB COLLECT

The family of a TV presenter found dead after allegedly suffering domestic abuse has accused police officers of not carrying out a proper investigation.

The aunt of Teresa McMahon, a presenter and producer with ITV, has applied for a judicial review of her complaint against the police watchdog’s handling of its review of Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) investigation into her niece’s case.

Lorna McMahon claimed at the High Court last week that police officers had withheld vital body-worn camera footage of them talking to her niece less than two weeks before her death in August 2021.

She alleged that GMP had refused Ms McMahon’s request to be told if her former partner had a record of domestic violence because she was no longer in a relationship with him.

A GMP review of its original investigation found it was not flawed and that a criminal investigation was not warranted.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) subsequently concluded the GMP’s investigation was reasonable and proportionate.

But now the family wants to force the watchdog to reopen its review into GMP’s handling of Ms McMahon’s allegations and its subsequent investigation into her death.

Injuries included broken ribs and fingers

A pre-inquest review in February 2022 heard that the 43-year-old mother of one, who worked for ITV’s Granada Reports, was found hanged at her flat in Salford after allegedly suffering physical abuse in the preceding months, including broken ribs and fingers.

Timothy Brennand, the senior coroner for Manchester West, said Ms McMahon was a “vulnerable individual” who was “locked in a coercive and controlling relationship”. A date for a full inquest has yet to be set.

The pre-inquest review heard that Ms McMahon had ended her relationship, but told police that her former partner was trying to pressurise her into resuming it.

Her aunt said that in a bid to protect herself, she asked GMP whether he had a history of violence, under Clare’s Law legislation. However, officers refused to disclose whether he had a criminal record, saying that because she was no longer in a relationship with him, she had no right to see it.

A police body camera recording of an interview in which Ms McMahon is understood to have relayed her fears to officers shortly before her death was subsequently lost.

In her application for a judicial review, Mrs McMahon, 60, told the High Court: “My issue is that the audio recording is vital evidence, and GMP failed to disclose this evidence to the coroner, claiming that it wasn’t relevant.

“I feel that a three-minute conversation with the police prior to her death is significant. The IOPC claim that the police acted perfectly acceptably.

‘We have been treated appallingly’

“I honestly believe I’ve been treated absolutely appallingly. All I wanted was to lodge a complaint and have it independently investigated.”

Referring to a call Teresa made to the police on July 12 2021, Mrs McMahon added: “It is clear to people who know Teresa that Teresa is very frightened.”

Barrister Caroline Jones, for GMP, said of the phone call: “It is a matter dealt with in some detail in the original investigation and the subsequent one.

“In my submission, what has been amplified in court and in the witness statement of the complainant are properly matters for the inquest.

“The body-worn footage formed no part of the re-investigation that led to the decision currently being challenged. It is not necessary for the court to have sight of it.”

Mrs Justice Lang reserved judgment to a later date.

The alleged failures in Teresa’s case came after an audit in 2022 by Baroness Hughes of Stretford, the former deputy mayor of Greater Manchester, found that police officers were captured on their own body-worn cameras encouraging victims of domestic abuse not to pursue their complaints, and failed to carry out basic enquiries.

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