Una Morris was instructed by Iain Gould at DPP Law Ltd. Richard and Michelle Hall successfully sued Merseyside Police for a breach of their human rights.
They caught police officer, PC Paul Allen, on camera eating crisps during a search of their home and apparently interfering with CCTV equipment. Mr Hall subsequently made a complaint about PC Allen to Merseyside Police and PC Allen was placed on restricted duties while the complaint was investigated.
On 12 February 2016, the day after PC Allen signed to acknowledge that the restriction on his duties had been lifted, he attended Mr and Mrs Hall’s home and sat in a marked police vehicle parked outside the address. PC Allen was with a colleague, who knew nothing about PC Allen’s history with Mr and Mrs Hall, their address and the previous complaint against him.
Mrs Hall, who was home alone, noticed the police vehicle outside the address. When she went outside to establish what was happening, she saw that PC Allen was the driver of the police vehicle and went back inside the address, distressed at what he was doing there, and had a panic attack. Again, PC Allen’s conduct was captured on Mr and Mrs Hall’s CCTV system.
At that time neither Mr Hall nor Mrs Hall knew that the restrictions on PC Allen’s duties had been lifted, nor that Mr Hall’s complaint about the search had been partially upheld, due to officers failing to leave paperwork relating to the search at the address and that a learning outcome had been identified in respect of PC Allen eating his lunch during the course of the search.
Mr Hall made a further complaint to Merseyside Police of oppressive conduct/harassment in relation to PC Allen having parked the police vehicle outside his home for a period of 13 minutes.
Despite this second complaint being upheld, the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police defended proceedings brought by Mr and Mrs Hall for breach of their rights to respect for private and family life and respect for their home under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
After a trial, HHJ Sykes found that there was no legitimate policing reason for PC Allen to park the police vehicle outside Mr and Mrs Hall’s home on 12 February 2016 and that, in the circumstances, PC Allen’s conduct interfered with and breached their human rights. HHJ Sykes declared breaches of Mr and Mrs Hall’s rights under Article 8 and ordered that the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police pay damages to afford just satisfaction and Mr and Mrs Hall’s legal costs.
Iain Gould, Director at DPP Law Ltd., said:
“This was a sinister act of intimidation by a Police officer who behaved like a neighbourhood bully, not a neighbourhood cop, showing no respect either for my clients or his own profession. It is deeply disappointing that even after finding wrongdoing on the part of PC Allen, Merseyside Police gave him words of advice, a mere ‘rap on the knuckles’ in my clients’ view, failed to apologise and refused to compensate my clients, forcing them to go all the way to Court to vindicate their rights. Taking into account Merseyside Police’s own findings about PC Allen’s conduct, the Chief Constable should have been on my clients’ side, not against them.”
This case was reported in the Liverpool Echo.
Una Morris is a member of Garden Court’s Claims Against the Police and Public Authorities Team.