Herts Police launch test case in Appeal Court
HERTFORDSHIRE police today launched a test case Appeal Court challenge against a landmark ruling in which the family of murdered North London optician Giles Van Colle were awarded damages after claiming police failed to protect Mr Van Colle from a man he
HERTFORDSHIRE police today launched a test case Appeal Court challenge against a landmark ruling in which the family of murdered North London optician Giles Van Colle were awarded damages after claiming police failed to protect Mr Van Colle from a man he was due to give evidence against.
The Police claim that the ruling against them could have "significant resource implications" and could lead to a string of similar claims from other families who blame the police for failing to protect witnesses.
In March this year, Mrs Justice Cox awarded Mr Van Colle's family £50,000 in damages, backing their argument that police had done insufficient to protect Mr Van Colle from his killer, Daniel Brougham of Christie Road, Stevenage, against whom he was due to give evidence in criminal proceedings - and that in those circumstances there had been breaches of his human rights to life and to private and family life.
The judge said in awarding the damages that she was satisfied that Mr Van Colle's rights under articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - rights to life and to private and family life - had been "violated" as a result of the way the police handled the case.
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However, lawyers for the Chief Constable of Hertfordshire Police today attacked that ruling, arguing that the judge failed to take into account the fact that the officer in charge of the theft case, DC Ridley, did not have the benefit of hindsight. If successful, they will ask the court to reduce the award.
Opening the case, Edward Faulks QC, counsel for the Chief Constable, said that the "irrational and disproportionate" response from Brougham was "not something that would reasonably have been anticipated".
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He said that the decision effectively opened up the police to claims under the Human Rights Act in circumstances in which damages would not be awarded at common law, with "serious resource implications" for forces.
The case continues