South Yorkshire Police officer who 'failed to act' in paedophile Ian Watkins case named in error by police watchdog

Ian Watkins
Ian Watkins

A police sergeant who retired partway through a four-year investigation into South Yorkshire Police officers failing to act on evidence that rock star Ian Watkins was a paedophile has accidentally been publicly named by a police watchdog.

Police Sergeant Richard Barnes was the most senior of four officers investigated over failings which concluded earlier this year that inaction by South Yorkshire Police officers “may have placed a child at risk of further abuse for several months”. The IPCC has found that he would have had a case to answer for gross misconduct if he was still serving.

Officers in Doncaster failed to take seriously complaints made over three months by Watkins’ ex-partner Joanne Mjadzelics about the Lostprophets singer, who is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for sex offences including the attempted rape of a fan’s baby.

Three of the four officers retired midway through an investigation by the IPCC which found all three would have had cases to answer for gross misconduct had they still been employed. The fourth officer was cleared of misconduct at a hearing.

PS Barnes’ name was inadvertently revealed in a partially-redacted version of the IPCC’s report into the issue sent to The Yorkshire Post under Freedom of Information laws. It comes a month after South Yorkshire Police accidentally sent The Yorkshire Post the draft findings of the IPCC’s investigation, along with emails that showed the watchdog did not intend to publish its report in full.

Following a Freedom of Information request for the full report, the IPCC said it was redacting the name of all officers on the grounds that it was “personal information”. But one passage reads: “On May 11, 2012, Ms Mjazelics showed [redacted] and PS Richard Barnes an image of a five-year-old female. [Redacted] and [redacted] dismissed this image as being of an adult female and took no further action.”

The three officers who retired had been interviewed between August 2014 and January 2015 following a complaint made to the IPCC in May 2013 by Ms Mjadzelics. New legislation came into force in January 2015 to prevent police officers retiring while under investigation for misconduct but the rules do not apply to investigations which started before that time.

South Yorkshire Police today refused to confirm the dates the officers retired but said all were “entitled to retire after 30 years’ service”. Between March and May 2012, Ms Mjadzelics took a laptop to Doncaster Police Station three times which she said contained an indecent image of a young child that she had been sent by Watkins. On the first two occasions, officers did not view the content and on the third time, officers viewed the image but told her it was of an adult female. The image was never viewed by specialist child protection officers.

Attempts to contact PS Barnes through South Yorkshire Police were unsuccessful.