04 June 2015
Police Officers Libelled by own Force Receive Damages
Two police officers who were libelled on live radio by one of their bosses have been awarded £25,000 in damages.
Former PCs Joanne Kelly and Simon Jones also received an apology in open court from Merseyside Chief Constable John Murphy following the distressing broadcast.
Miss Kelly and Mr Jones had been dismissed in October 2013 as a result of an incident in which they tasered Kyle McArdle in the back of a police van. He had been arrested after an officer saw him urinating in an alley in full public view, and a confrontation with the police had followed.
However, they were reinstated on appeal in June 2014 when the Police Appeals Tribunal concluded that the findings of the misconduct panel had been unreasonable and unfair.
When Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Ward appeared on BBC Radio Merseyside a month later he was asked what his force had learnt following the sacking of the officers for the taser attack.
Instead of correcting the interviewer and saying Miss Kelly and Mr Jones had been reinstated he said the incident “demonstrated his force would not tolerate inappropriate use of tasers”.
In a statement read out in at the Royal Courts of Justice today, Head of Libel at Slater and Gordon, who acted for Jones and Kelly, said: “By doing so, he suggested not only that
Joanne Kelly and Simon Jones remained sacked from the force, but also that their case was a prime example of conduct which Merseyside Police would not tolerate.”
Mr Clarke-Williams added: “These inaccurate statements caused very significant damage, distress and embarrassment to both Joanne Kelly and Simon Jones as they felt greatly injured and betrayed by them. They now understand that ACC Ward says he did not intend to convey those statements about them.
“The Chief Constable of Merseyside is represented in court today to retract publicly those allegations and to apologise to Joanne Kelly and Simon Jones for the damage caused to them.
“The payment of £25,000 damages by the Chief Constable, together with the claimants’ legal costs, serves to demonstrate the sincerity of the apology and the vindication of Joanne Kelly and Simon Jones.”
Hannah Ready, counsel representing Merseyside Police, said: “The Chief Constable of Merseyside Police offers his sincere regrets to both Joanne Kelly and Simon Jones for the embarrassment and distress caused to them.”
In a personal statement Mr Jones said: “This incident in its entirety has been devastating for me and my family. It was based on totally unreasonable and unfair decisions that ruined two careers and caused massive hurt and damage.
“Despite the apology and our vindication today, the fact remains that this should never have happened. I would like to thank the Police Federation and my close friends and family for their unwavering support throughout this ordeal.”
Miss Kelly and Mr Jones retired on medical grounds in March this year as a consequence of these events. Both received letters from Merseyside Police thanking them for their “distinguished and committed service”.
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