Success for claimant in case against the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police

Friday 23 September 2016

On 16 September 2016, HHJ Godsmark QC gave judgment for the claimant in his claim against Nottinghamshire Police. Una Morris acted for the claimant.

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In 2011, the claimant was attacked by a police dog and sustained injury to his face. In the dog handler’s evidence to the court, he had claimed that he had been using the dog to track the claimant, which would have meant that no warning needed to be given.

After evidence from a police dog expert, and detailed cross-examination on the point, the judge rejected the handler’s evidence and found that the handler had been using the dog to search for the claimant and that, contrary to guidance, no warning had been given to enable the claimant to avoid the risk of being bitten.

After the claimant had been injured, another officer took photographs of him and subsequently posted cropped images on social media and sent further full facial images of the claimant by picture message. The officer was dismissed for gross misconduct. Despite the dismissal, the police defended the data and privacy elements of the claimant’s claim on the basis that the Chief Constable was not vicariously liable for the officer’s actions.

The judge found that the Chief Constable ought to be held vicariously liable for the officer’s actions, applying the close connection test in Lister v Hesley Hall Limited [2002] 1 AC 215, which was recently reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets Plc [2016] AC 677.

The claimant therefore succeeded in establishing negligence, breaches of his rights to privacy and misfeasance in public office. The claimant recovered a total of £20,580, which was made up of damages for significant facial scarring, damages for the disclosures of the images, special damages and exemplary damages of £5000. The claimant also recovered his costs, with costs being payable on an indemnity basis from the end of June 2016.

Una Morris is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Claims against the Police and Public Authorities Team. She was instructed by Suzie Gregson-Murray, Jo Keeling and Natalie Baldwin of Gregsons Solicitors in Nottingham.

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