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Bhatt Murphy Solicitors

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Raju Bhatt

Raju Bhatt is one of the founders of Bhatt Murphy. He specialises in providing help to members of the public who seek accountability from the state and its officers, with a focus upon the treatment of individuals by the criminal justice system (including the police, the prison service and the prosecuting agencies).

Raju has a particular history of work with families who have lost their loved ones through death in custody, and he has been responsible for many significant developments in this and other areas of his legal practice over more than 25 years. In the process he has been required to utilise every avenue of litigation at all levels of the civil justice system up to the highest appellate courts.

Raju’s experience and authority in his fields of work has been recognised on various fronts. In 2009, he was appointed special adviser to the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in relation to its scrutiny of the Coroners and Justice Bill, which has since been passed as the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. In 2010, he was appointed by the Home Secretary to the Hillsborough Independent Panel which reported in September 2012. Other bodies that have consulted him or asked him to submit evidence on relevant matters over the years include:

• the Home Affairs Select Committee (concerning police complaints and discipline – 1997);

• the Butler Inquiry (concerning the handling of deaths in custody within the Crown Prosecution Service – 1997);

• the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture (concerning the compliance of the UK government with ECHR Article 3 obligations in the context of police misconduct – 1997);

• the Home Office (concerning the reform of the police complaints system and the establishment and operation of the Independent Police Complaints Commission as the ‘new’ body that replaced the Police Complaints Authority – 1998/2003);

• the Independent Police Complaints Commission (concerning its operation through its Advisory Board – 2004/2008);

• the Attorney General (concerning the handling of deaths in custody within the Crown Prosecution Service – 2002);

• HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (concerning the handling within the Crown Prosecution Service of cases involving an allegation of a criminal offence by a police officer – 2003);

• the Metropolitan Police Service (concerning restraint related deaths in custody – 2003);

• the Metropolitan Police Authority (concerning professional standards and employment matters in the Metropolitan Police Service through the Morris Inquiry – 2004).

Raju is one of the founding members of the Police Action Lawyers Group (PALG) and Inquest Lawyers Group (ILG).

In addition to his work on police malfeasance claims against various police forces, Raju’s recent and ongoing significant cases include:

Salahuddin Amin & Rangzieb Ahmed v Security Services & Others
Ongoing claims against the Security Services, the Foreign Office and the Home Office in relation to allegations of complicity in torture inflicted on British nationals detained in the custody of the Inter Services Agency in Pakistan.

Daniel Morgan, deceased
Ongoing representation of deceased’s family in their quest for justice in relation to allegations of collusion by Met Police in this murder in 1987, resulting in the establishment of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel by the Home Secretary to look into the matter in May 2013 following an acknowledgement by the then Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin in March 2011 that the Met had “to take responsibility for the consequences of the repeated failure of the MPS over the years to confront the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice” (look here, here and here for the Home Secretary’s announcements, and here for the family statement on the Panel with its full terms of reference and a timeline).

Olaseni Lewis, deceased
Ongoing representation of deceased’s family in their quest for justice in relation to this restraint related death of Olaseni Lewis in custody of Met Police in 2010, including a successful challenge by way of an application for judicial review of the IPCC to quash an initial flawed investigation, thereby compelling the IPCC to undertake a fresh re-investigation of the case (look here for more details).

Other notable cases in the past include:

SD v SOCA
Substantial settlement of claim for negligence, misfeasance and breaches of the HRA 1998 against the Serious Organised Crime Agency on behalf of a person used as a ‘covert human information source’ and then abandoned in circumstances exposing him to arrest and prosecution in relation to his work for the Agency.

GW, deceased
(2006-2013)
Representation of deceased’s family in connection with criminal prosecution, court martial, disciplinary action and substantial settlement of claim for negligence, misfeasance and breaches of the HRA 1998 against the Ministry of Defence arising out of the death of this soldier after he was subjected to an intense period of physical activity amounting to unlawful punishment for alleged lack of discipline in 2006.

R (Atkinson) v Met Police Commissioner
(2010)
Challenge raising fundamental questions as to whether and, if so, to what extent, the police may seek to avoid scrutiny by preventing members of the public from recording the conduct of police officers in the purported performance of their police functions, resulting in correction and amendment to relevant policies within the Met and ACPO [see here and here for the revised Met policy and here for the revised ACPO policy].

R (Al-Skeini & Ors) v SSD
Intervention in the House of Lords on behalf of 11 organisations (The Law Society of England and Wales, The Bar Human Rights Committee, Amnesty International Ltd, Justice, Liberty, Interights, The Association for the Prevention of Torture, British Irish Rights Watch, Kurdish Human Rights Project, The Redress Trust and the AIRE Centre) in challenge to the refusal of the Secretary of State for Defence to apply Article 2/3 standards to investigation of civilian deaths at the hands of British soldiers in Iraq, invoking an extension of the jurisdiction of the ECHR and the HRA to those deaths in certain circumstances.

R (Mondelly) v Met Police Commissioner
Challenge raising fundamental questions as to whether and, if so, to what extent, the published policy of a Chief Constable can or should influence or limit the original jurisdiction of any police officer to arrest, charge or caution a person for an offence known to the law [see R (Mondelly) v Met Police Commissioner, 29.09.06].

EC, IPCC and Met Police

Challenge raising questions as to appropriate standard of proof, the limits on the role a Chief Constable’s review upon a finding of guilt at a misconduct hearing, and the functions of the Independent Police Complaints Commission in the context of the police disciplinary system.

Jones & Ors v Saudi Arabia
Intervention in the House of Lords on behalf of The Redress Trust, Justice, Amnesty International and Interights in unsuccessful challenge to the operation of the State Immunity Act 1978 in relation to claim invoking Article 3 considerations concerning torture suffered in custody of the Saudi state.

JC
Substantial settlement on claim for damages for negligence, misfeasance and breaches of the HRA against the Met Police Commissioner invoking Article 3 & 8 considerations arising out of abduction of child by estranged parent in circumstances indicating gross neglect of duty on the part of the Defendant’s officers [JC v Met Police Commissioner, 2006].

Victoria Climbie, dec’d
Representation of deceased’s family in concluding stages of public inquiry and in ensuing claim for damages arising out of this death of a child aged 8 years at the hands of her carers in circumstances indicating gross neglect of duty on the part of the Met Police, two NHS Trust hospitals (Central Midd'x & North Midd'x) and three local authorities (Haringey, Brent & Ealing) – see The Victoria Climbie Inquiry.

Roger Sylvester, deceased
Representation of deceased’s family in their quest for justice in relation to this restraint related death of Roger Sylvester in custody of Met Police, including representations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in relation to disciplinary charges, and application to ECtHR invoking Article 2 considerations in relation to the response of the UK authorities to the circumstances of the death – follows jury verdict of unlawful killing at inquest and the police officers' subsequent judicial review challenge to that jury verdict [see R (Anderson & Ors) v HM Coroner for Inner North London, 26.11.04, and Sylvester Family Statement, 2004] – compelled a review of the use of restraint techniques by Met Police, particularly in relation to mentally ill members of the public. See also the family campaign at www.rsjc.org.uk.

Mills & Poole
Representations to Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) for the wrongful murder convictions of these two men to be referred to the Court of Appeal, and ensuing challenge to their refusal to do so, resulting in a judgment of the LCJ expressing doubts about the safety of the convictions [R (Mills & Poole) -v- CCRC, 20.12.01], subsequent reconsideration of the case by the CCRC, and their decision then to refer the case to the Court of Appeal after all, culminating eventually in the convictions being quashed by the Court of Appeal [R v Mills & Poole (CA) 17.06.03].

Alton Manning, dec’d
Representation of deceased’s family in their quest for justice in relation to this restraint related death in custody of HMP Blakenhurst, including the inquest culminating in jury verdict of unlawful killing, and a successful challenge to refusal of the DPP to prosecute the prison officers involved in the unlawful killing, resulting in a ground breaking judgement by the LCJ anticipating the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 [R -v- DPP Ex Parte Manning & Melbourne, 17.05.00] – also conducted formal complaint on behalf of the family alleging gross neglect of duty in conduct of investigation by West Mercia Police into the unlawful killing, leading to appointment of Staffordshire Police to investigate complaint under supervision of PCA, and eventual findings of serious systemic failures in approach to and handling of the case – compelled an ACPO review of police investigations into such deaths in prison custody, resulting eventually in the ‘Protocol for Police Investigations’ as finalised and published in Jan’06.

David Charles and others
Re-opening of complaint investigation and consequent disciplinary charges leading to the findings of guilt against seven officers and their departure with three others from the Metropolitan Police – followed by formal apology, admission of liability and £95,000 settlement of claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner [Charles & Ors v Metropolitan Police Commissioner, 1999].

Dennis Stevens, dec’d
Representation of deceased’s family in relation to this restraint related death in custody of HMP Dartmoor, including the inquest culminating in jury verdict of misadventure, following dismissal of challenge to refusal of the Coroner to leave unlawful killing for consideration by the jury in Court of Appeal – the LCJ’s judgment has since become a leading authority on the approach to be adopted by a Coroner when deciding upon the verdicts to be left to the inquest jury at the conclusion of evidence.

Ibrahima Sey, dec’d
Representation of deceased’s widow and children in relation to this restraint related death in custody of Metropolitan Police, including the inquest culminating in jury verdict of unlawful killing - highlighted the dangers of positional/restraint asphyxia and CS spray, particularly in the context of the mentally ill.

Shiji Lapite, deceased
Representation of deceased’s widow and children in relation to this restraint related death in custody of Metropolitan Police, including the inquest culminating in jury verdict of unlawful killing, and a successful challenge to refusal of the DPP to prosecute the police officers involved in the unlawful killing [R -v- DPP ex parte Jones, 1997] – with similar and parallel challenges mounted in the cases of Treadaway (see below) and O’Brien (conducted by Fiona Murphy).

Derek Treadaway
Claim for damages for assault against West Midlands Police and its notorious Serious Crimes Squad arising out torture of prisoner to extract confession – trial resulted in a damning reasoned judgment by McKinnon J [Treadaway v West Midlands Police, 28.07.94], which in turn led to a Home Secretary’s reference of the case to the Court of Appeal and ensuing successful appeal against conviction, followed by a successful challenge to the refusal of the DPP to prosecute the police officers involved in the torture – with similar and parallel challenges mounted in the cases of Lapite (see above) and O’Brien (conducted by Fiona Murphy), the first instance of a successful challenge to the exercise of the DPP’s prosecutorial discretion, resulting in a judicial inquiry and, at least in part, the decision of the then DPP to resign.

Daniel McBrearty
Unsuccessful claim for damages for negligence of prosecuting authorities arising out of the unnecessary and unjustifiable prosecution and detention of an innocent subject – claim struck out on the basis of public policy considerations preventing the existence of any duty of care in such circumstances, and the judgment of the Court of Appeal to that effect is now a leading authority on the subject [McBrearty v CPS & Elguzoli-Daf v CPS, 1995].

IO

£76,000 settlement of claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner [IO v - Metropolitan Police Commissioner, 1995] – instrumental (with King, below) in uncovering the ‘Operation Jackpot’ scandal of corruption amongst police officers at Stoke Newington.

Anson King
£70,000 settlement of claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner [Anson King v - Metropolitan Police Commissioner, 1995] – first ever settlement of its kind to breach a perceived ‘glass ceiling’ of £50,000 in such cases, and instrumental (with IO, above) in uncovering the ‘Operation Jackpot’ scandal of corruption amongst police officers at Stoke Newington

R v SSHD ex p Davis (1994)
Successful challenge [R -v- Home Secretary ex p Davis, 1994] focusing upon procedures for the exercise of the Home Secretary’s power to refer convictions to the Court of Appeal for consideration as to their safety – heard along with ex p Hickey, and forced change of policy whereby the Home Secretary was obliged to allow for the first time disclosure of the material upon which his decision is reached (see below)

R v SSHD ex p Doody (House of Lords, 1993) &
R v SSHD ex p Riaz (1994)
Successful and ground breaking challenges focusing upon the scope of the material and reasons disclosable to a mandatory life sentence prisoner in connection with the setting of his tariff (the minimum period to be served in prison before eligibility for parole).

Racz v Home Office (House of Lords, 1993)
Ground breaking case establishing the principle of vicarious liability of the Home Office for misfeasance in public office on the part of prison officers.

R v SSHD ex p Scholey (1992)
Challenge focusing upon parole procedures for mandatory life sentence prisoners - forced change of policy whereby the Home Secretary agreed to allow such prisoners a right to see parole reports for the first time.

Janardanan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner
(1991) & Burnett v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1991)
£40,000 settlements of claims for damages for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution - first such cases to establish jurisdiction of the County Court and the High Court to extend the remedy of statements in open court upon settlement of libel claims to the settlement of claims against police.

Critchlow & Ors v South Yorkshire Police (1991)
£425,000 settlement of claims for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution on behalf of 39 miners arising out of police operation at Orgreave during miners’ strike - first instance of a multi-party action in such litigation.

Paul Worrell, deceased
Claim for damages for medical negligence in respect of self inflicted death of mentally ill prisoner at HMP Brixton [Knight & Ors -v- Home Office, 1989] – forced policy change whereby the Home Office finally accepted that prisoners are entitled to the same standard of medical care as that available under the NHS.

Clinton McCurbin, dec’d
Representation of deceased’s family in relation to this restraint related death in custody of West Midlands Police, including the inquest culminating in jury verdict of misadventure, and challenge to standard of proof required for an unlawful killing verdict [R -v- Wolverhampton Coroner ex parte McCurbin, Court of Appeal, 1989] – the LCJ’s judgment has since become a leading authority on the subject.

Biography
Having completed his under graduate studies with a BA degree in Oriental Studies (Sanskrit) in 1981, Raju was involved in working in a voluntary capacity in the community with and on behalf of those who had been arrested in the course of the urban disturbances throughout the country that summer. This brought him to Southall where he was one of the founding members of the Southall Monitoring Group (now known as ‘The Monitoring Group’) before he turned to the law.

Raju subsequently completed his post graduate legal professional qualification at the then City of London Polytechnic (now the Guildhall University) in 1986. He qualified as a solicitor in 1988 at B M Birnberg & Co where he spent 10 years building up his practice before establishing Bhatt Murphy with his fellow founding partners.
The picture of Raju Bhatt was taken by James Hunkin and formed part of an exhibition about people in the law.

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Read Raju's interview in Legal Action Group magazine "The privilege of acting for bereaved families".