Police have “wholeheartedly apologised” for repeated, serious failings in the sex abuse trial of Jonathan King that allowed him to walk free from court.
The disgraced pop mogul will not be retried over the historic allegations after his trial collapsed and was branded a “debacle” by the judge.
Judge Deborah Taylor said Surrey Police made “numerous, repeated and compounded” errors over the course of its lengthy investigation into King, primarily on disclosure.
She detailed the damning mistakes in a judgement released on Monday, weeks after she was forced to discharge the jury a fortnight into the trial at Southwark Crown Court.
Rather than undertake a detailed review of more than 4,500 documents relating to the case, Surrey Police conducted a simple “keyword search,” the judgement reveals.
Several “clearly relevant” items were left off the trial schedules while other key material was missed due to inaccurate descriptions.
Logs of complaints made by witnesses were not kept and decisions were based on inaccurate material.
The judge said there had been a “widespread failure” to follow proper procedures and branded the approach taken by at least one officer “lamentable”.
King, 73, from west London had denied 23 serious sexual assault charges against boys aged between 14 and 16, between 1970 and 1988.
The former Genesis producer was found guilty in 2001 of sex offences against five teenage boys in the 1980s and was released from jail in 2005 after serving half of a seven-year sentence.
But the more recent police investigation was flawed from the outset.
Surrey Police launched its investigation in 2000 but it resulted in no charges and was the subject of a review by Merseyside Police.
As a result of that review, Operation Ravine was established in 2014 and King was arrested the following year.
“It was imperative that the Operation Ravine investigation and prosecution was conducted with scrupulous fairness and efficiency in order to be seen to remedy the claimed failures of the past,” Judge Taylor said.
“The disclosure fiasco shows that it has failed in its objective.”
I can now confirm that I was found #NOTGUILTY of several false allegations last month; trial collapsed and jury dismissed; today the #Judge suggested the #CPS and #SurreyPolice abandon the further false claims and they have agreed to do so. No retrial. Sometimes the system works.
— Jonathan King (@KingOfHits) 6 August 2018
Surrey Police said in a statement: "We recognise that there were serious organisational failings in the investigation, particularly in relation to disclosure process and we will continue to study the Judge's ruling in detail.”
The force said it has been a complex investigation involving an "enormous" amount of data, adding: "When the issues relating to disclosure became apparent we, with other members of the prosecution team, worked tirelessly in an effort to correct these errors.
"We deeply regret that despite these efforts we did not meet the required standards to ensure a fair trial.
"As a result, the evidence will not be tested by a jury and neither the complainants' nor the defendant have their voices heard in court. For this we wholeheartedly apologise.
"We recognise that for policing nationally, and at a local level, it is vital that we get disclosure right in order to ensure both the integrity of the criminal justice system and public confidence."
The force is commissioning an independent review of the investigation.
The CPS said it would contact the complainants to explain its decision not to appeal the ruling.
A spokesperson said: “During the trial the police made us aware of issues with their handling of disclosure in the case.
"We asked the court to dismiss the jury and worked with the police to remedy this ahead of a retrial.
“We appreciate today’s decision will be upsetting for the complainants and will contact them to explain our decision not to appeal the ruling.
“While we are satisfied the CPS handled the disclosure process appropriately and robustly in this case, there is an unprecedented focus from police and prosecutors to drive improvements in this area.”
Birds solicitors, which represented King, said: "This case is yet another example of failings in the disclosure process.
"It should be of great public concern that the numerous shortcomings in the disclosure process would not have been discovered but for the determination of the defence team."
King took to Twitter to confirm he had been found not guilty and blast the “false allegations” made against him.