The blue Code of Silence

Solicitor Iain Gould has brought the terror of PC Mark Knights to a close by successfully suing Derbyshire police for £20K plus costs. He also posted an interesting article on the subject. It focuses on a very important side issue regarding the attack: The Blue Code of Silence. Aka the police’s unofficial refusal to speak out against each other, which transcends law, decency and morality.

I have posted a few articles on the road rage incident that resulted in an innocent driver – Ben Joynes- being violently headbutted in the face by PC Mark Knights of Derbyshire Constabulary. Although the attack was made by just one violent officer, five other police officers witnessed the attack and did nothing to stop it.

At Knight’s trial in Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court in December 2020, none of those five police officers made any attempt to codemn Knight’s actions. Instead they made excuses for him and mtigated the offending in the hope he would be acquitted.

During the trial, a number of facts emerged that demonstrated the criminal intent of Knights and his fellow officers.

  • Immediately after the assault PC Knights took off his epaulets, so that he could not be identified by the victim.
  • PC Jennifer Salmon (14507) was the first to rush over and help Knights unlawfully restrain Ben Joynes. When asked at trial if the victim had been subsequently arrested she responded:

“I don’t know.”

  • PC Salmon also claimed that she found it ‘unsurprising’ that Knights had been headbutted. The judge quizzed her about that statement:

Judge Meechan: Why would you not find that surprising? Is that normal practice? Is it normal for a police officer to headbutt a member of the public?
PC Salmon: No
Judge Meechan: Have you seen it done before?
PC Salmon: No
Judge Meechan: Is it acceptable practice?
PC Salmon: It depends on what the man said.

  • Joynes’ son, who witnessed the attack, approached PC David Naylor (2623) asking him to intervene. The officer dismissed him, stating:

“Trust me none of us just head-butt somebody for the sake of it.”

PC Knights lack of remorse

Knights showed no remorse at trial and instead, made himself out to be the victim. He relayed a sanitised version of events to the court, claiming that the headbutt was a ‘distraction blow.’

“It was reasonable, proportionate and effective. It did what I needed to do, nothing more nothing less.”

When shown body worn video evidence which contradicted Knight’s evidence that Joyne’s had confronted him aggressively, the officer replied:

“Looking at that, it appears slower than it happened in real time.”

Asked if he had filled in a “use of force” form after the incident PC Knights said he did, but could not locate it.

“Like being headbutted by a vicar.”

Ben Joynes, the victim of the assault, told the court that the headbutt took him ‘completely by surprise’.

“It was like being headbutted by a vicar” he said.

“Pc Knights approached me to ask me to move, I said I didn’t think I could get down the road.
“He told me ‘You need to move the car’. He was authoritative, but aggressive. I just said there was nowhere I could move the car to, there was nothing I could do. He did not look like he was having a great day.

When I queried what I was supposed to do he took out his phone and started taking photos of my car. I was shocked why he would do that, I didn’t know the reason or whether it was his for use or for personal or professional use.

I got out of the car and started taking photos of him. He tried to knock the phone from my hand, he took a full swipe but missed. If he had caught it he would have knocked it 20 feet in the air.

I got back in my car. Then another police officer came over and said if I could move my car a bit to the left they might just be able to get through.

The cars were moving very slowly and as I got level with him (PC Knights) he called me a ‘fat cunt’ whilst smiling. He was really aggressive. It made me feel embarrassed, especially as my son was in the car and it was totally out of order for a bobby.

I said “‘Pardon?” and he said it again.

I found it incomprehensible that someone should speak to me like that. I was going to report him. I got out of my car and said I wanted his name. But before I had the chance to say ‘…and your number’ he headbutted me. He headbutted me square on. I just remember recoiling in shock.


It split my lip, but it was more shock than anything. It was like being headbutted by a vicar, it was just something so far from what you would expect to happen. It was a blur. The next thing I’m on the floor, he’s jumped on top of me. He was screaming at me to get my hands behind my back. He did not say he was arresting me.

There was blood pouring from his face onto me, it turned out it was Pc Knights’ blood. He must have headbutted me while I was talking and headbutted my bottom two teeth.

He handcuffed me. I was kept in cuffs for no more than 10 minutes, but I was never charged with anything. All I could think about was that my trousers were coming down as I was being dragged along. It’s no secret I’m overweight, and they could not get me in the back of the police van.

PC Mark Knights. These were the images captured by Ben Joynes before he was assaulted.

Later on Knights took off the handcuffs and released Joynes, telling him to “get on your way”.

When asked, during the trial, why he thought Knights had behaved in such a violent way, Joynes said that it appeared to be ‘roid rage’. Alluding to the possibility that Knights was addicted to steroids. A common addiction among young ‘macho’ officers in the police service.

The whole event was witnessed by a police prisoner who was in the back of a patrol car at the time of the assault. Ironically, he had been arrested earlier for a totally unrelated road rage incident. All of the officers at the scene chose to release the man without charge. Although the reason for this was not mentioned during the trial, it is likely this decision was taken in the hope that he would be grateful enough to the officers to stay silent about what he had witnessed. They were wrong. As the man subsequently gave evidence that helped convict Knights of the assault.

Getting off lightly

When finding Knights guilty of common assault, Judge Meechan said:

“In all the circumstances I regret to say that I am satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that you assaulted Mr Joynes. Your defence was that you were acting in self-defence, but you were not acting to defend yourself and if you were, the force you used was excessive.

In a moment of aberration, you struck a man and with the passage of time you have convinced yourself that you acted lawfully.

A police officer who assaults a member of the public in the line of his duty should be in no doubt that he is looking at a custodial sentence. Undoubtedly this marks the end of your career. This is a serious offence and the consequences are grim for you.”

However, after consulting with a probation officer, District Judge Meechan decided to give Knights a six-month curfew order. He was also ordered to pay £100 costs, £100 compensation and £90 victim surcharge.

It goes without saying, that had this been a member of the public who headbutted a police officer, that person would be serving a jail sentence right now. Clearly, the police are held to a very different standard.

Given PC Jennifer Salmon, PC David Naylor et al’s attempts to circle the wagons in favour of Knights, it seems that the police care nothing for the safety of the public and will always put themselves first. They regard unnecessary violence as an occupational hazard. A byproduct of keeping us safe from the spectre of criminality.

The CPS are complicit

There is one part of Iain Gould’s appraisal I take issue with, and that is the suggestion that the CPS’s original decision not to prosecute Knights can be attributed to the lack of evidence they could amass from Knights colleagues.

Iain is too kind. He fails to take into account that the CPS are as much a part of the Blue Code of Silence as police officers themselves. If the CPS lacked evidence first time around, what evidence did they subsequently gain to change their mind?

Nothing.

Knights and his colleagues didn’t change their position. They never tendered anything that would help get a violent and dangerous police officer off the streets. They remained faithful to him throughout.

I believe that there is a far more obvious reason the CPS declined to prosecute. And that’s because they never bothered to look at the case file.

From the very start, the CPS’s involvement was lip service. With out any oversight whatsoever, they allowed the investigation to be pursued by a civilian officer – Richard Leighton – whose aim was to have Knights acquitted. The decision not to prosecute was made by the police, not the CPS. The CPS just rubber stamped the police’s decision.

It is frightening to know that there are no safeguards in place to ensure that the CPS oversee an investigation where a police officer is accused of common assault. The only recommendation that I could find is set out within this charging practice on the CPS’s website:

“The charging decision in relation to allegations of criminal offences against persons serving with the police must be made under the Full Code Test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. It is important for the maintenance of public and police confidence that a different standard is not allowed to develop in these cases. If either of the stages in the Full Code Test is not met the case should not proceed irrespective of the fact that there is an outstanding complaint against the police. Care should be taken not to express views in a way which might create the impression that the complaint has influenced the decision and if required, the prosecutor should say so explicitly.”

Not a single mention of the obvious conflict of interests that are incurred when you put the fox in charge of the hen house.

The only reason the CPS reversed their decision was because they were forced to take a look at the evidence. This was due to the adverse publicity they were getting from my exposure of the case, and the private prosecution I embarked upon. The victim, Ben Joyne’s, finally tipped the scales in his favour when he appealed against the CPS’s decision not to prosecute under the Victim Right to Review scheme. Only then, did the CPS bother to take any interest in the case. At that stage it must have become clear that it was a brazen attempt by Derbyshire Constabulary to help a violent police officer escape criminal charges. Something I’m sure the CPS see police forces attempting on a regular basis, but do nothing about.

Thereby, the CPS themselves play their own part in the Blue Code of Silence. They are a different chapter in the same book. And just like the police they will do whatever they can to ensure that no police officer – or any friend of the establishment – is prosecuted for their crimes.

Credit to Eugene Henderson for transcribing and reporting the case.