Judgments - Brooks (FC) (Respondent) v. Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (Appellant) and others

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Para.
No.

 Page
No.

Details - First Duty
33 111 - 112 "As regards the three officers referred to in paragraph 31 above, the attitude shown towards the Plaintiff by the Thirteenth Defendant was particularly unsupportive. Further he breached the Plaintiff's trust in revealing to other officers for the purposes of an arrest of the Plaintiff (referred to in greater detail below) an address of the Plaintiff's then girlfriend that he had given him in confidence."
44  115 "The Plaintiff learnt of the discontinuance of the prosecution brought by the Crown Prosecution Service through reading about it in the media. This was the starkest example of a general difficulty that he faced that the police did not keep him informed of the state of their investigations/the prosecution."
45 115 "Whilst the attackers remained at large the Plaintiff was frightened for his own safety, not least because he lived in the same locality. He did express fears to the Twelfth Defendant on occasions. However, the Plaintiff was never provided with police protection or other means of practical or physical support to allay those fears, save that he was provided with a police escort during the trial at the Central Criminal Court."
46  115    "To his horror the Plaintiff later learnt that the officer who escorted him on the night of 22 April 1996 was one DS Coles, a known associate of Clifford Norris who is a notorious criminal and father of one of the suspects, David Norris."

 

    C.  THIRD DUTY - PARA 5(3) OF THE STATEMENT OF FACTS AND ISSUES

    (1)  Paragraph 5(3) of the Statement of Facts and Issues states the 'Third Duty' as being to:

    "afford reasonable weight to the account that the Respondent gave and to act upon it accordingly."

    (2)  References to the particulars of claim relating to the Third Duty in the "Annexe to Order of Court of Appeal of 26th March 2002 - Re-Amended Particulars of Claim" are found in Para 54(iii) - page 124:

    "failing to accord reasonable weight to the account given by the Plaintiff and to act on it accordingly. The Plaintiff repeats and relies upon the matters set out in paragraph 51(ii) above;…"

    (3)  Paragraph 51(ii) - page 119 relates back to paragraphs 21, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 31 and 33. The details of these paragraphs are set out in tabular form below:

  Para.
No.

Page
No.

 Details - Third Duty
 21 106-107 "The Second Defendant spoke to the Plaintiff at the scene of the attack. He told her that it had been carried out by 5-6 white male youths and indicated that they had run off in the direction of Dickinson Road. He also told her that one of the youths had called out "what what nigger" immediately before the assault on Stephen Lawrence. She did not note down this information provided by the Plaintiff or act on it or cause it to be acted on at the time. She questioned the Plaintiff as to whether the assailants were known to him and as to whether he was carrying a weapon. She asked these questions more than once and seemed reluctant to accept his answers. She did not ask him for descriptions of the assailants. She did not, or at least did not appear, to take his account seriously. She did not try to establish if the Plaintiff had been attacked himself. She did not offer him any support or check to see whether he was all right. She did not appear to appreciate that he was in a distraught and frightened condition as a result of the attack and the condition of his friend lying on the pavement, nor that he was frustrated by the apparent delay in the arrival of the ambulance that had been called."
22 107-108 "The other sued officers at the scene of the attack during this period did not act to remedy any of the deficiencies in the Second Defendant's handling of the Plaintiff described in the previous paragraph."
 24 108 "Whilst at the hospital, from around 23.30 hours to about midnight the Plaintiff was spoken to by the Fourth Defendant who took a statement from him about the attack which included a description of the principal attacker, including his hair colour. The Fourth Defendant subsequently failed to transmit this information to officers responsible for investigating the murder."
27 109-110 "At Plumstead Police Station the Plaintiff made a full statement to the investigating officers, which took between approximately 1.30 - 5.30am. Apart from one inquiry made by DC Cooper (the officer taking the statement) none of the officers present made inquiries about the Plaintiff's welfare or as to whether he would prefer to give a statement at home. The officers that spoke to him expressed scepticism about various aspects of his account, in particular that the attack was wholly unprovoked and that the phrase "what what nigger" had been used. None of the officers asked if the white youths had attacked or touched him."
 28  110 "During the course of this period at the Police Station the Plaintiff was spoken to by the Fourteenth Defendant on more than one occasion. He was one of the officers who behaved in the manner referred to in the previous paragraph."
  29  110 "In the meantime [whilst at Plumstead Police Station] the Sixth Defendant had initiated various lines of inquiry at the scene such as asking persons in a local public house (located in the opposite direction from which the attackers had fled the scene) whether they had seen anything of significance. He did not first ascertain from the Plaintiff directly or indirectly an account/details of the attack. He assumed that Stephen Lawrence had been injured as a result of a fight and that the Plaintiff was a potential suspect. Further, he failed to treat the attack as a racial assault."
 31  111 "At no stage was the Plaintiff treated by the three officers referred to in the previous paragraph [Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth Defendants], or by any other police officer as a victim of the attack. He was not offered counselling or other forms of support, he was not given any information about the Victim Support Scheme, nor was any effective arrangement made for representatives of that Scheme to make contact with him. He was not given any leaflets or other information about victim's rights and was not advised of the possibility of a Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority claim."
33 111 - 112 "As regards the three officers referred to in paragraph 31 above, the attitude shown towards the Plaintiff by the Thirteenth Defendant was particularly unsupportive. Further he breached the Plaintiff's trust in revealing to other officers for the purposes of an arrest of the Plaintiff (referred to in greater detail below) an address of the Plaintiff's then girlfriend that he had given him in confidence."

 

    N.B.

    References to the particulars of claim relating potentially to both the First and Second Duties in the "Annexe to Order of Court of Appeal of 26th March 2002 - Re-Amended Particulars of Claim" are also found in Para 54(iv) - page 124:

    "failing to treat the Plaintiff with reasonable courtesy and respect in his capacities as either a witness or a victim. The Plaintiff repeats and relies upon the matters set out in paragraph 51 (iv) and (v) above; …"

    Paragraph 51(iv) on page 120 does not refer back to any other paragraphs but states:

    "inaccurately and unfairly portraying the Plaintiff as an aggressive and unco-operative young black man and/or one who was out of control at the scene of the attack and/or at the hospital afterwards. The Plaintiff alleges this breach against the Second, Third, Fourth, Seventh and Eight Defendants. A white person in his position would not have been so treated;"

    Paragraph 51(v) on pages 120-121 refers back to paragraph 29, which states:

Para.
No.

Page
No.

Details
29 110  "In the meantime the Sixth Defendant had initiated various lines of inquiry at the scene such as asking persons in a local public house (located in the opposite direction from which the attackers had fled the scene) whether they had seen anything of significance. He did not first ascertain from the Plaintiff directly or indirectly an account/details of the attack. He assumed that Stephen Lawrence had been injured as a result of a fight and that the Plaintiff was a potential suspect. Further, he failed to treat the attack as a racial assault."

   

LORD RODGER OF EARLSFERRY

My Lords,

    37.  I have had the advantage of reading the speech of my noble and learned friend, Lord Steyn, in draft. I agree with it and, accordingly, I too would allow the appeal. I add only one short observation.

    38.  The decisions in Elguzouli-Daf v Commissioner of Police [1995] QB 335 and Kumar v Commissioner for the Police of the Metropolis 31 January 1995, unreported, show, correctly in my view, that the Crown Prosecution Service and the police owe no duty of care to a defendant against whom they institute and maintain proceedings. The reasons are general, but none the less persuasive. The fact that no such legal duty of care exists does not mean, however, that a prosecutor or police officer should be anything other than scrupulous in considering the strengths and weaknesses of the case against the defendant. On the contrary, at every stage they will be conscious that, if their decision is wrong, the defendant will be exposed to the risk of suffering substantial harm. In that very real sense, the defendant's interests are always before them. Prosecutors and police officers are therefore under an ethical and professional duty to act with due care. Nevertheless, this duty does not translate into a legal duty of care to the defendant. A fortiori, for the reasons given by Lord Steyn, police officers investigating crime do not owe witnesses the supposed legal duties of care alleged by the respondent. But, as a matter of professional ethics, officers can be expected to treat witnesses with appropriate courtesy and consideration, and may be open to disciplinary proceedings if they do not.

LORD BROWN OF EATON-UNDER-HEYWOOD

My Lords,

    39.  I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech of my noble and learned friend, Lord Steyn. I agree with it and for the reasons he gives I too would allow the Commissioner's appeal.

 
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