CASE years back. It was false imprisonment, assault and

CASE NAME AND CITATION

Walker V The
Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis 2014 EWCA Civ 897

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COURT AND JUDGES

Court of
Appeal (Civil Division): Rimer, Tomlinson LJ and Sir Bernard Rix LJ

 

PARTIES

Appellant: Mr.
Alexander Walker

Respondent:
The Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis

 

REPRESENTATION

Anthony
Metzer QC (instructed by Hodge Jones & Allen LLP) for the appellant.

Mark Ley
Morgan (instructed by the Metropolitan Police Service) for the respondent

 

PROCEDURAL COURTS

1.      
Camberwell Green Magistrates Court

2.      
Central London County Court

3.      
The Court of Appeal

 

HEARING DATE

21st
March 2014

 

MATERIAL
FACTS

There has been a complaint made by a woman about a violent
incident on 12th July 2008. Appellant’s girlfriend, Ms. Cadice Lecky
claimed, the appellant, Mr. Alexander Walker had hit her. Therefore, the
appellant was arrested by the police and after 7 hours in custody, he was
released on bail.

The custody record stated that appellant was arrested for “affray,
assault police officer”.  

On 23th of September 2008, appellant was charged with
assault of a police officer in the execution of his duty and 20th –
21st April 2009, the appellant stood trial at the Camberwell Green
Magistrates Court.

The district judge decided that the police officer concerned
the incident, PC Adams, had restricted the appellant’s movements in a doorway
by cornering him, without having intending to arrest him, thereby having
detained the appellant unlawfully and that the appellant’s actions had been
reasonable under the given circumstances.

Subsequently. it was proven that his initial detention was
unlawful at the residence, the appellant was acquitted of the prosecution case
and the case has been closed.

The appellant sent a letter to County Court of Central London
claiming damages for the trial decided two years back. It was false
imprisonment, assault and malicious prosecution. But the circumstances of the
incident including detention and arrest was already decided.

The hearing for the claim took place In Central London
County Court before His Honor Justice Freeland QC. The judgment was given on 1st
of August 2013 and the Appellant’s claim has failed and the judge has rejected
appellant’s evidence and accepted the police evidence (Respondent) and it was backed
by the evidence of an eye witness. Ms. Buckmaster, a neighbor.

HHJ Freeland QC rejected and dismissed the appellant’s
claims due to following facts.

·              
PC Adams’s evidence stated that when he arrived
at the scene, the appellant’s girlfriend told him that the appellant punched
her. PC Barton and PC Cracknell both supported the PC Adams’s evidence.

·              
The appellant was standing in a doorway and PC Adams
had cornered the appellant so that he couldn’t get escape. PC Adams’s first
words, in accordance with his witness statement, were “Calm down mate or you
will end up getting arrested”.

·              
At the doorway, PC Adams was pushed by the appellant
in the chest. The PC Adams told the appellant that he was under arrest for ‘public
order’. PC Adams coulnt complete the sentence he was going to say because the
fight broke out. Judge accepted that PC Adams had section 5 of the Public Order
Act 1986 in mind and that’s what he was going to say.

·              
The appellant was already hyped from the initial
fight with his girlfriend and so that’s safe to assume that appellant was angry
and his behavior was disorderly and disproportionate.

·              
The judge has also found that appellant’s
behavior was gross overreaction for the PC Adams’s kind request to calm down.

·              
The appellant has bit PC Adams by his arm and a
finger before being arrested by Police.

Therefore, the judge has dismissed the civil claim. He found
that PC Adams had positioned himself in such a way as to prevent the appellant
from escaping that he reasonably feared that the appellant would try to escape.
Initial detention in the doorway wasn’t to arrest the appellant, but to pursue further
enquiries about the incident.

However, the judge accepted that there was a detention which
he described as trivial, brief and technical which lasted for few seconds. Therefore,
the appellant was entitled to be awarded £5 as damages for his first
ground.

The appellant appealed with the limited leave of Vos LJ. The
appeal was allowed in part as per the three issues before the Court of Appeal.  

On 21sth of March 2014,
Mr. Walker, the appellant’s appeal to quash Freeland QC J’s decision (Central
London County Court) came before Rimer, Tomlinson LJ and Rix LJ at Court of
Appeal.

 

LEGAL
ISSUES BEFORE COURT

(i)        
Whether the appellant’s
initial detention in the doorway had been unlawful, thus having amounted to
false imprisonment; if so,

(ii)      
Had the appellant’s reaction
to that detention been a reasonable and proportionate exercise in self-defense;
and

(iii)     
Whether the purported arrest
for ‘public order’ had been a valid arrest within s 28(3) of the Police
and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

 

JUDGEMENT

Lord Justice Rix said that the Appellant’s appeal
would be allowed on the first issue, and dismissed on the second and third.
That meant he would receive a nominal amount of £5.
Lord Justice Tomlinson and Rimer agreed unanimously.

JUDGEMENT DATE

4th July 2014

 

DETAILED
REASONS FOR JUDGEMENT

Rix LJ:

Appellants first claim was allowed on the ground that his
initial detention in the doorway by PC Adams was unlawful and accepted that
appellant is entitled to damages for only brief and “technical” imprisonment,
immediately before his unreasonable, disproportionate and violent behavior
prior to his arrest.

It was accepted by defense counsel that this behavior
amounted to a detention. On this ground, appellant argued that that initial
detention was unlawful and made him to use reasonable force to escape himself
from what was an unlawful, if brief, imprisonment.

But however, Rix LJ identified that the PC Adams’s initial
detention in the doorway wasn’t to arrest the appellant, but to pursue further
inquiries about the incident.

Court accepted the appellants brief imprisonment as a
technical detention even though it had lasted for few seconds. Quoting (Bird V
Jones, Halsbury’s Laws) “For however short a time”. But also, it did not
amount to a deprivation of liberty or to unlawful false imprisonment.

Just after the outbreak of the fight with appellant, PC
Adams said “Public Order” and Rix LJ identified that PC Adams had
Section 5 of the Public Order Act in mind but could not complete what he was
about to say. And further Rix LJ found that after the fight, the appellant had
been given full and adequate reasons for his imprisonment prior to his arrest.

Rix LJ further said that he would have assessed the Appellant’s
damages at only £5. He added that he would have awarded £1,400 for assault, upon
proven, and £2,000 for the imprisonment of 7 hours which followed.

Tomlinson LJ:

Agreed to Rix LJ’s decision.  Further said appellant’s conduct attracts no
sympathy but that is of course often the way when a fundamental constitutional
principal at stake. The detention was indeed trivial, but that can and should
be reflected in the measure of damages and does not render lawful that which
was unlawful. The judge’s assessment of £5 as the appropriate figure which was generous
to appellant, but there is no appeal against that assessment.

Rimer LJ:

Agreed with both judgments.

 

EVIDENCE
PRESENTED

Witness statement (MG 11) of PC Adams

Evidence by and eye witness, Ms. Buckmaster

Evidence by PC Barton and PC Cracknell

PREVIOUS CASE
LAW REFERNECE

Collins v. Wilcock 1984 1 WLR 1172 (Div
Ct)
Donnelly v Jackman 1970 1 W.L.R. 562
Kenlin v Gardner 1967 2 Q.B. 510
Ludlow v Burgess (Note) (1971) 75
Cr.App.R. 227
Wood v. DPP 2008 EWHC 1056 (Admin)
Austin v. Commissioner of the Police of the
Metropolis 2007 EWCA Civ 989, 2008
QB 660
Bird v. Jones (1845) 7 QB 742
McMillan v. Crown Prosecution
Service 2008 EWHC 1457 (Admin)
R v. Central Criminal Court ex parte
Shah 2013 EWHC 1747 (Admin)
R v. Fiak 2005 EWCA Crim 2381

RATIO

However trivial and brief, an
imprisonment is unacceptable and unlawful without would amount to

 

 A brief period of detention, when the claimant was effectively ‘held’ in
a doorway without being touched, amounted to false imprisonment.

However short the time, a false imprisonment is amounted for
appropriate damages. 

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