Leslie Thomas secures damages for a man wrongly accused of child pornography charges

Wednesday 6 April 2011

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In a High Court judgment handed down on Friday 11 February 2011 Leslie Thomas successfully acted for Mr Jeremy Clifford who suffered psychiatric injury following his prosecution for charges relating to child pornography in December 2004. He received £20,000 in damages for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office after a Mr Justice MacKay found in his favour.

Leslie Thomas represented Jeremy Clifford in successfully claiming damages for Malicious Prosecution, relating to three charges of making and possession of child pornography images and misfeasance relating to the failure of the police officer concerned to pass information onto the CPS, thereby prolonging the prosecution of Mr Clifford until April 2005.

In a six day trial, before Mr Justice Mackay, in the High Court, the judge found that the prosecution against Mr Clifford for the offences of possessing child pornography was maliciously motivated. The police officer in the case had been told specifically that he had no case against the Claimant by the police expert because there was no evidence that the Claimant knew about the images which had been found his computer. Indeed the expert evidence in the officers possession made it clear that the images were small thumbnail 'pop ups', which had made their way onto the computer as a result of malware. Yet despite this the suppressed this evidence from the Claimant's criminal defence team and pursued prosecution. He even threw in additional charges to add weight to the indictment despite the fact that the officer knew this was completely improper.

In particular the Judge found that Mr Hopkins, the officer in the case had no honest belief in the Claimant's guilt and that he had no reasonable and proper cause, either on the basis of his own honest intent or judged objectively by the standards of a reasonable prosecutor in his position to charge the Claimant with the possession offences.

It was further found that Mr Hopkins made a decision to conceal that which he knew at the time of charging from the CPS, that he lied to his superiors about consulting the CPS before charge and that he inflated the charges in order to give them additional weight.

Instrumental in the case was the cross examination of Mr Hopkins. To download the transcript of the cross examination, click here.

The Judge awarded Mr Clifford a total of £10,000 in respect of the psychiatric injury suffered as a result of the proceedings against him and £10,000 in respect of distress and non-psychiatric hurt and injury to his feeling.

The Claimant and his legal team were happy with the decision on liability but the Judge expressly rejected arguments on behalf of the Claimant in favour of aggravated and exemplary damages. The Claimant is currently considering whether to appeal this part of the judgment.

To read a press report published in The Telegraph, click here.

Leslie Thomas is a member of the Police Actions Team at Garden Court Chambers.

Leslie was instructed by Andre Clovis at Tuckers Solicitors.

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