Bedfordshire Police Pay £13,249 Compensation & Costs To GMB Members Unlawfully Arrested For Alleged Harassment Of Beds Councillor
Settlement vindicates Mr and Mrs Smith’s determination to prove that the police acted unlawfully, thus restoring their reputation says GMB.
Bedfordshire Police have finally accepted that they wrongly arrested two GMB members three years ago and have finally agreed to pay compensation and costs in an out of court settlement just before a court hearing in Luton on 22 July.
Three years ago a complaint of harassment was made by the then deputy leader of Central Beds council Cllr Stay (in relation to a posting on his blog page) to Bedfordshire police. In so doing, Cllr Stay purported to provide the police with a screenshot of the IP address he alleged was linked to the posting. This IP address was traced to Mr & Mrs Smith of Caddington, Bedfordshire.
The Police showed up at Mr Smith’s house and arrested him and seized his computer. They then went to his wife's workplace and arrested her too on suspicion of harassment.
Both Mr and Mrs Smith vehemently denied they were responsible for the comments in any way.
No further action was taken against the Smiths and the couple then sued and have now won a total of £13,249 for assault, false imprisonment and trespass after the police force pulled out of a hearing due to be held at Luton County Court on Monday 22nd July, admitting liability.
The police wanted a confidentiality clause in the settlement so that the couple could not talk about the case. This was rejected.
The Smiths have since filed complaints against 3 police officers with the Bedfordshire Police Professional Standard Department.
Warren Kenny GMB Regional Officer, said “the screenshot supplied by Cllr Stay provided no suspicion whatsoever that the offending posting could have been made by the Smiths and gave no grounds for their arrest; the police therefore acted unlawfully in arresting them and searching their property.
A claim was therefore brought against the police, in accordance with legal advice from the GMB and their solicitor, Stefano Ruis of Hickman & Rose.
Attempts were made at the outset to try and settle the matter amicably, without incurring unnecessary costs but Beds police refused to engage, despite it being pointed out that their continued denial of liability had no basis in law.
It was therefore necessary for the Smiths to incur the cost of lengthy court proceedings with the police refusing to back down.
Despite Beds police’s earlier refusal to concede, and their assertion that they would defend the claim, they eventually caved in and accepted liability in respect of all matters, paying damages and costs.
The settlement vindicates Mr and Mrs Smith’s determination to prove that the police acted unlawfully, thus restoring their reputation.”
Mr & Mrs Smith added “We would like to thank the GMB for all the support we have had. Without it, we would not have been able to keep going.
We feel that we have been made victims, and there is some suspicion we were targeted by the Police/Mr Stay, but there is no evidence to support this.
We have already filed complaints against 3 police officers with the Bedfordshire Police Professional Standard Department for irregularities in their witness statements.”
Stefano Ruis said, "The determination of Mr and Mrs Smith to see justice done in the face of continued opposition from the police serves as reminder that the force must be accountable to ordinary citizens.
A significant amount of public money has been needlessly spent defending the claim in an attempt to stifle legitimate concerns as to the conduct of officers. Mr & Mrs Smith should be commended for their readiness to resist this and call the police to account."
Contact: Warren Kenny GMB on 07843 632 394 or Stefano Ruis Tel 020 7702 5366. GMB Press Office 07921 289 880