Our notable Police cases

We have been involved in many of the most serious and successful cases for victims of police misconduct. We have experience of handling a breadth of cases from stop and search matters to cases resulting in catastrophic injury. We have taken a number of successful challenges with the aim of improving accountability for police malpractice. Some of our key successes are set out below.

 

Afzal Akmal v Commissioner of Police for the City of London

Trial of claim for discrimination and false imprisonment on behalf of young British Muslim man arrested while watching the Marathon at the 2012 London Olympics.

R (Hicks and others) v Comissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2017] UKSC 9

This is an important test case that now clarifies the meaning of Article 5(1)(c) of the European Convention of Human Rights. It concerns the lawfulness of the arrests of a number of people on the day of the Royal Wedding on the basis that those arrests were in breach of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Bijan Ebrahimi

In 2013 Bijan Ebrahimi, a vulnerable adult, who was registered as disabled, was killed by a neighbour. Police officers from Avon and Somerset constabulary failed to respond properly to his calls for help in the lead up to his death. Following a police complaint two police officers who had close contact with Bijan Ebrahimi on the weekend before he was murdered, PC Leanne Winter and PC Helen Harris, were dismissed from Avon & Somerset Constabulary for gross misconduct.

R (AB) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2016] EWHC 2714

Claim brought by the daughter of Mr Jermaine Baker who was shot by officers of the Metropolitan Police on 11 December 2015. The claim challenged the decision of the Defendant not to suspend the tactical firearms commander responsible for the operation that led to Mr Baker’s death. The decision not to suspend meant that the officer was allowed to retire and avoid any disciplinary action against him. Decision on permission was stayed and interim relief refused.

Critical Mass Litigation

Bhatt Murphy represented 32 clients who participated in the Critical Mass cycle ride and were part of a “mass arrest” near the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. In total 182 participants were arrested for purportedly breaching conditions placed upon the demonstration by the Met Police. The claimants were not aware of those conditions, which had not been properly communicated to them. 

In 2016 the Metropolitan Police Commissioner agreed to pay damages in settlement of their civil claim in the High Court. Moreover, following the civil claim the Metropolitan Police have now amended their policies to ensure additional protections against the unlawful ‘mass arrest’ of protestors.

Groce family

The High Court ruled that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner was required to compensate Cherry Groce’s children for the irreparable harm caused to them as a result of the raid by armed police officers on their family home in 1985. At a hearing before Mr Justice Jay in the High Court on 24 May 2016, the Commissioner’s attempt to avoid any liability for that harm was rejected. Mrs Groce was shot and seriously injured in front of her young children during the 1985 raid, and she died 26 years later in 2011 as a result of those injuries.

Tajudee Taiwo

The then Acting Chief Constable (ACC) of Avon and Somerset Constabulary admitted that his officers discriminated against Mr Taiwo and treated him in an inhuman and degrading way after failing to properly investigate a group of men who had violently assaulted him and subjected him to racist abuse. In addition to paying substantial damages, the ACC apologised to the Taiwo family and agreed to commission a ground breaking film to address race discrimination within Avon and Somerset Police.

Lynette Wallace

Lynnette Wallace, then 7½ months pregnant, was subjected to two assaults whilst in the custody of Nottinghamshire Police in July 2011. She was kept in handcuffs for almost 11 hours. She gave birth prematurely to her baby 48 hours later. The Chief Constable apologised to Ms Wallace for the treatment she received in custody, and paid damages in settlement of her civil claim. An Inspector and two custody sergeants were found guilty of gross misconduct and the CPS are still considering whether they or any of the other police officers involved should face criminal charges.

Catt v Association of Chief Police Officers and Metropolitan Police Commissioner [2015] UKSC 9

This landmark Supreme Court judgment established that the retention of police intelligence reports about law-abiding activists on the National Domestic Extremism Database interferes with individuals’ privacy rights under Article 8 ECHR. The Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that data about the Claimant had been unlawfully retained in breach of Article 8(2) ECHR. The Supreme Court, by a majority, overturned the Court of Appeal judgment. The case is currently before the European Court and awaiting a hearing.

Will Horner

PC Andrew Ott was convicted in May 2015 of assaulting Will Horner in the course of a student protest in December 2010. He has since been dismissed. Mr Horner has now received an apology and substantial damages from the police. PC Ott, together with two other officers, also faced trial on charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, after PC Ott accidentally recorded exchanges between them. All three were acquitted; however the remaining two officers faced gross misconduct proceedings in September 2016.

R (Demetrio) v IPCC & R(CPM) v IPCC [2015] EWCA Civ 1248

The Court of Appeal upheld a High Court decision clarifying the IPCC’s power to reopen investigations and to revisit previous decisions with regard to disciplinary action against police officers. The IPCC investigation concerned Mr Demetrio’s complaint that while he was detained in handcuffs in the back of a police van he was assaulted, including by being strangled by a police officer. The Court held that the IPCC’s conclusion that there was no case to answer for the strangling allegation was unlawful and that the IPCC was entitled to reinvestigate.

KZA and GXW

This is an action against the police arising out of the decision to strip search GXW, then aged 12, without her mother, KZA, or any appropriate adult present, on 30 April 2009. GXW and KZA repeatedly told the officers GXW’s age but were ignored. In approving the settlement, which included a payment of compensation, the Court described the officers’ behaviour as “arrogant”. KZA was also strip searched, without proper procedure being followed.

R (Caetano) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2013] EWHC 375 (Admin)

A new legal basis for quashing police cautions was established by the High Court in a judicial review brought by a survivor of domestic violence. It was believed to be the first occasion on which a caution has been quashed on the basis that it is was not in the public interest.

R (Roberts) v Commissioner of Police Metropolitan Police [2012] EWHC 1977 (Admin)

The claimant brought a challenge to the lawfulness of the powers under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which allow for authorisations to be made in a specified area permitting officers to stop and search individuals within that area without any need for reasonable suspicion. Her claim was dismissed by the High Court in July 2012 and it will now be considered by the Court of Appeal.

OOO v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] EWHC 1246

The first High Court case in this jurisdiction to litigate a breach of Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to be free from enforced labour and servitude). This resulted in Mr Justice Wyn Williams finding the Commissioner of Police in breach of both Articles 3 and 4 of the ECHR and awarding damages to four young Nigerian women who had been trafficked into the UK as children and forced to work as unpaid servants. This outcome demonstrated that defective police investigations can be successfully challenged where Convention rights are engaged and put paid to an attempt by the Commissioner to extend the immunity from suit enjoyed by the police in common law claims, to HRA claims.

R (Castle) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] EWHC 2317 (Admin)

The Claimants were children, who sought declarations and damages on the ground that their containment by the police during a demonstration was unlawful. The Court found the obligation on the police was to carry out their existing functions in a way that took into account the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and that any interference with freedom of movement had to be fully justified.

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.

BXH, AXH & CXH v The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis & The Crown Prosecution Service, High Court, December 2008

In which very substantial damages, apologies and a raft of alternative dispute resolution measures were agreed with the defendants shortly before trial. The claim included a novel claim under the Human Rights Act in respect of an alleged violation of the claimants' rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of a failure to protect the anonymity of a child witness in criminal proceedings such that the child, his mother and her partner were forced to relocate under a witness protection scheme. The claim against the police was also advanced in negligence. The compromise included damages in respect of psychiatric injury, loss of earnings and disruption to the clients' lives.

Anonymous v The Chief Constable and another, High Court, April 2007

Very substantial damages and an apology have been agreed in respect of the repeated sexual assault of a young girl by a police officer and her professional carers. Damages were sought in respect of the negligent investigation by the police of the victim's allegations. The police and the relevant local authority have made a payment of compensation and provided an acknowledgement of the sufering our client endured.

Anonymous v The Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, High Court, April 2006

Very substantial damages and apology were agreed in the Sheffield High Court in respect of the assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution of the claimant arising from an unlawful and racially motivated stop and search. The case raised novel and complex issues of causation in respect of the psychiatric illness developed by the claimant after these events and the level of damages achieved together with the apology, reflected acceptance on the part of the Chief Constable that his officers’ actions had caused the claimant severe mental health problems.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner v Christine Hurst, CA 2005

An important case concerning retrospectivity under the Human Rights Act. We successfully argued that section 3 of the Human Rights Act (on interpreting Acts of Parliament to comply with Convention rights) should operate to ensure a Convention compliant inquest concerning systemic contributors to the death albeit that the death had occurred before the Act came into force. Re McKerr distinguished. The case itself concerns failures on the part of the Metropolitan Police and others to take steps to protect the deceased who was at risk from a third party.

E, H and A v Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire 2005

Substantial damages achieved arising from the rape and/or indecent assault of three women by a custody officer – two of the incidents taking place in the custody suite for which the officer had responsibility – including claims in respect of the collusion of other officers in failing to prevent this officer’s crimes and their subsequent attempt to cover up those crimes.

R (Coghlan and others) v Greater Manchester Police 2004

Judicial Review of the failure to prevent the retirement of a senior police officer notwithstanding judicial conclusion that he had lied on oath. The Court recognised the public interest in permitting the complaints process to proceed. An important test case with regard to the ambit of Chief Officer’s discretion in this area.

R (Anderson and others) v HM Coroner 2004

Re Roger Sylvester, dec’d. Representation of family in contesting police officers' challenge to inquest verdict of unlawful killing in relation to the restraint related death of Roger Sylvester in the custody of the Metropolitan Police.

Bark and others v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis 2004

Settlement achieved at £91,000 together with admissions of liability in respect of false imprisonment, and breaches of Articles 5, 10 & 11. This was a claim brought for Bark and others following widespread arrests by the police for anticipated breach of the peace by anti-monarchists on the Jubilee weekend.

C v Metropolitan Police Commissioner, London Boroughs of Haringey, Brent & Ealing, and Central Middlesex & North Middlesex Hospitals NHS Trusts 2003

Substantial settlement achieved in respect of the death of child aged 8 years at the hands of her carers in circumstances indicating gross neglect of duty on the part of the Defendants.

Re W (a child) 2003

CICA award of £672,029 on behalf of a child victim of a booby-trapped incendiary device planted in a children’s playground by a then serving soldier of the British Army.

Kerr and others v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 2003

Settlement achieved at £182,000 in a claim for damages including aggravated and exemplary damages for assault, battery, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution by Metropolitan police officers.

Warren v Chief Constable of Essex

Settlement achieved at £25,000 in a claim for damages including aggravated and exemplary damages for misfeasance in public office involving the use of agent provocateurs by police officers to entrap a vulnerable drug user.

B v Sunderland City Council & Priority Healthcare Wearside NHS Trust 2003

Settlement achieved at £25,000 in a claim for damages arising out of the death of a mental patient in the care of the Defendants.

R (IH) v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 2003

Successful Article 2 challenge to refusal of the Metropolitan Police to disclose report of previous investigation into allegations of police collusion in this murder of a member of the public on behalf of his business partner in 1997.

Re Roger Sylvester, dec’d 2003

Inquest verdict of unlawful killing arising from the restraint related death in custody of the Metropolitan Police – highlighting yet again the dangers of positional/restraint asphyxia and the use of restraint on mentally ill members of the public.

Re W and Metropolitan Police 2003

Complaint concerning police handling of a serious assault in the context of domestic violence invoking Article 3 considerations and alleging systemic and institutionalised failures, leading to the appointment of Surrey Police to investigate the complaint under the supervision of the PCA, and disciplinary action against relevant officers.

O’Brien (3) v The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police 2003

Settlement achieved at £324,000 in respect of the unlawful killing of Richard O’Brien in the custody of the Metropolitan Police.

Barry v Dr Heath and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis 2003

Settlement achieved at £836,000 in respect of a complex case involving a detainee who was arrested for being drunk and incapable and subsequently found to have sustained neurological injury. The claimant had no clear memory of events but liability was established against the police doctor who had neglected to adequately assess him.

Russell and others v The Home Office 2001

The “Whitemoor escape” litigation. Judge’s finding of Article 3 violation. Successful civil claim for damages on behalf of two men who suffered brutal assaults by prison officers outside Whitemoor Special Secure Unit

N v The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police 2001

Settlement achieved at £40,000 in a claim for damages arising from a lengthy detention under the Prevention of Terrorism of Act, including a claim in respect of a serious breach of Article 3.

L v The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police 2001

Settlement achieved at £42,500 in respect of a detention under the Prevention of Terrorism of Act.

Sey v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 2001

Settlement achieved at £45,000 in a claim for damages arising out of the unlawful killing of Ibrahima Sey in custody.

Palmer v Home Office 2001

Settlement achieved at £50,000 in a claim for damages arising out of the death of Dennis Stevens in custody.

Re Alton Manning, dec’d 2001

Formal complaint alleging gross neglect of duty in conduct of investigation by West Mercia Police into unlawful killing of Alton Manning in custody (see below) leading to appointment of Staffordshire Police to investigate complaint under supervision of PCA – findings include serious systemic failures in approach to and handling of the case.

R v DPP ex parte Manning 2000

Successful challenge to refusal of new DPP to prosecute prison officers involved in unlawful killing of Alton Manning in custody – ground breaking judgement by the LCJ anticipating the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998.

L v The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police

Settlement achieved at £64,000 in respect of a claim for damages arising from a detention under the Prevention of Terrorism of Act, including a claim in respect of malicious procurement of a search warrant.

D v The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police 1999

Settlement achieved at £66,000 in respect of a claim for damages arising from detention under the Prevention of Terrorism of Act and applying a novel point of law concerning malicious procurement of a search warrant in this context.

R v Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police ex parte Rahman 1999

Successful challenge to legality of ‘warning’ administered by Wiltshire Police to the Applicant having been called to his restaurant for assistance in face of assault involving racist abuse.

Lapite v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1999

Settlement achieved at £15,000 in claim for damages arising out of unlawful killing of Oluwashijibomi Lapite (see below).

C and others v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1999

Settlement achieved at £95,000 with apology and admission of liability in respect of a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Re Alton Manning, dec’d 1998

Inquest verdict of unlawful killing in respect of a restraint related death in custody of HMP Blakenhurst - highlighted yet again the dangers inherent in the use of neckholds.

H v The Commissioner 1998

Settlement achieved at £90,000 in respect of assault and battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

The Commissioner v Scafe 1998

Having represented the claimant before the jury in her successful civil trial against the police (the jury awarded the claimant £110,000), we represented the claimant in achieving a compromise of her damages through mediation.

The Commissioner v Gerald 1998

A senior Court of Appeal including the Master of the Rolls considered the application of the new guidelines issued in the Thompson case. We represented the claimant at the first instance trial (when the jury awarded him £125,000) and before the Court of Appeal which reduced his damages to £50,000.

Jozana v The Commissioner, Doctor Gupta and Doctor Dattani 1998

Settlement achieved at £100,000 in a claimconcerning the duty of care to a young mentally ill man in custody.

Elsworth v The Commissioner 1998

Settlement achieved at £90,000 in a claim for assault and battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

R v DPP ex parte Ilett and Others 1998

We successfully intervened as an interested party to oppose an application by police officers that their trial for the manslaughter of Richard O’Brien was an abuse of process.

R v Kidderminster Coroner and Alberta Cameron ex parte UKDS and Home Office 1998

Successful resistance to challenge mounted by the private company (UKDS) running HMP Blakenhurst and the Home Office against the decision of HM Coroner to leave unlawful killing as a verdict for the inquest jury to consider in connection with the death of Alton Manning.

L and E v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1998

Settlement achieved at £36,000 in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Re David Charles and others 1998

Metropolitan Police officers required to resign by way of disciplinary action. Re-opening of complaint investigation and consequent disciplinary charges leading to the findings of guilt against seven officers and the departure of three others from the service (willingly or otherwise).

R v DPP and PCA ex parte Lapite 1997, R v DPP ex parte O’Brien & R v DPP ex parte Treadaway

Successful challenges to refusal of DPP and PCA to prosecute or discipline police officers involved in the unlawful killings of Oluwashijibomi Lapite and Richard O’Brien, and the torture of Derek Treadaway - 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.

The Commissioner v Thompson 1997, Court of Appeal

This is the leading authority concerning the assessment of damages in police actions. For the first time the Master of the Rolls issued guidelines to juries to assist in the assessment of damages in police cases. We had represented Ms Thompson at first instance and successfully defended the jury’s award to her of £51,500.

Re Ibrahima Sey, dec’d 1997

Inquest verdict of unlawful killing concerning a restraint related death in the custody of the Metropolitan Police which highlighted the dangers of positional/restraint asphyxia and CS spray.

C v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1997

Settlement achieved at £37,000 in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Re Oluwashijibomi Lapite, dec’d 1996

Inquest verdict of unlawful killing concerning the restraint related death in the custody of the Metropolitan Police - highlighted yet again the dangers inherent in the use of neckholds.

Re Richard O’Brien, dec’d 1995

Inquest verdict of unlawful killing concerning the restraint related death in the custody of the Metropolitan Police - highlighted the dangers inherent in the use of prone restraint.

Williams v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1996

Settlement achieved at £25,000 in a claim for damages for assault and false imprisonment.

R v Treadaway 1996

Successful appeal against convictions following Home Secretary’s reference of case to Court of Appeal in the wake of judgement in civil trial (see below).

Brownbill v The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police

Jury award of £150,000 in respect of assault and battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. This was one of a series of high jury awards in this year (including the cases of Thompson, Scafe and Gerald each of which were handled by Bhatt Murphy lawyers). The cases sparked a public debate which contributed to the establishment of an independent framework for the investigation of police complaints.

Pryce v Cleveland Police 1995

Settlement achieved at £68,000 together with an admission of liability in respect of a claim for damages arising out of unlawful killing of Oliver Pryce in custody of Cleveland Police in restraint related incident.

Hoffman v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1995

Settlement achieved at £25,000 in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution arising out of arrest of journalist arrested while acting in the course of his professional duties covering a public order situation - supported by NUJ.

W and M v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1995

Settlement achieved at £35,000 in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

O v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1995

Settlement achieved at £76,000 in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution - instrumental, together with King (see below) in uncovering the ‘Operation Jackpot’ scandal of corruption amongst police officers at Stoke Newington.

Stephenson v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1994

Settlement achieved at £25,000in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Glenister and another v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1994

Settlement achieved at £25,000 in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Gillan and others v City of London Police 1994

Settlement achieved at £40,000 in a claim for damages for assault and false imprisonment.

Treadaway v West Midlands Police 1994

£50,000 award by judge (McKinnon J) in respect of a claim for damages for assault arising out torture of prisoner to extract confession - first ever award of its kind.

King v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1994

Settlement acheived at £70,000in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution - first ever settlement of its kind to breach a perceived ‘glass ceiling’ of £50,000 in such cases, and instrumental in uncovering the ‘Operation Jackpot’ scandal of corruption amongst police officers at Stoke Newington.

Scott and others v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1994

Settlement achieved at £35,000 in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Hanney v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1994

Settlement achieved at £30,000in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Stanley Dixon v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1993

Settlement achieved at £22,500 in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Racz v Home Office 1993

House of Lords – establishing the principle of vicarious liability of the Home Office for misfeasance in public office on the part of prison officers for the first time.

Burke v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1992

£50,000 jury award in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution on behalf of black pensioner aged 70.

Barry and another v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1992

£59,000 jury award in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Critchlow v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1992

Settlement achieved at £50,000 in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution on behalf of community leader and founder of the Mangrove in Notting Hill.

Janardanan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1991

Settlement achieved at £40,000 in a claim for damages for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution - first such case to establish jurisdiction of County Court to allow statements in open court upon settlement.

Burnett v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1991

Settlement achieved at £40,000 in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution - first such case to establish jurisdiction of High Court to extend statements in open court upon settlement to assault claims.

Critchlow and others v Sth Yorks Police 1991

Settlement achieved at £425,000 in a claim 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 multi-party action in such litigation - supported by the National Union of Miners.

Rose v Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1990

Settlement achieved at £130,000 in a claim for damages arising out of unlawful killing of Winston Rose in the custody of the Metropolitan Police in a restraint related incident.

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Photo Sarah Booker