MATERIAL FACTSOn 12 July 2008 the Claimant Mr. Walker got into a fightwith the police, which arose out of a complaint that he had hit his girlfriend,Ms. Cadice Lecky. A very short time later, the incident was over and theclaimant was taken off to the police station and where there he was detainedfor 7 hours and was charged with assault of a police officer in the executionof his duty dated 23rd September 2008. He was acquitted on thegrounds that his initial detention had been unlawful. The district judge foundthat the police officer had restricted the claimant’s movements in a doorway,without intending or purporting to arrest him, thereby detaining himunlawfully. He claimed damages for false imprisonment, assault and maliciousprosecution. The trial of the claim took place before a judge alone, His HonourJudge Freeland QC in the Central London County Court.
The judge rejected hisevidence and accepted the police evidence so that the claim failed totally. TheClaimant then appealed to the Court of Appeal.MR. WALKER’S EVIDENCEAccording to the Claimant, he was punched in the face by thepolice officer PC Adams several times in his attempt to give himself a room tobreathe, and was carried to a police police van.
Grievous bodily harm whichcould be found in his injuries were evidence.POLICE EVIDENCEThe police officer PC Adams stated that he positionedhimself only to prevent the Claimant getting past and did not touch theClaimant at all. Thereafter the Claimant had pushed him firmly in the chestwhich was at that point that the police officer decided to arrest the Claimantfor Public Order and it was Section 5 which PC Adams had in mind but hecouldn’t tell.THE JUDGE’S REASONING IN THE MAGISTRATES’ COURTThe judge’s findings were in favour of the police. The judgestated that the Claimant was not at all calmed down his behaviour by the timethe police arrived and he was fully satisfied by a very wide margin that theclaimant pushed the officer first and he rejected any suggestion that theConstable was aggressive (at 115 116 117). The judge fully satisfied thatthe Constable had Section 5 in his mind and he rejected the Claimant’s case andthe claim for malicious prosecution got nowhere.
However, there was a legal weakness in the Commissioner’sdefence to Mr. Walker’s Claim that the Constable has failed to effect a lawfularrest according to Section 28(3) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984(‘ PACE’) which provides that ” no arrest is lawful unless the personarrested is informed of the ground for the arrest at the time of, or as soon aspracticable after, the arrest” and the reason which the Constable gave(” Public Order”) was insufficient for ground for arrest.QUESTIONS OF LAW/ ISSUESThe issues on appeal were; – Was Mr.
Walker’sinitial detention in the doorway unlawful, thus amounting to falseimprisonment? – If so, was Mr. Walker’s reaction to that detention a reasonable and proportionateexercise in self- defence? – Was the purportedarrest for ” public order” a valid arrest within section 28(3) of PACE?DECISIONThe judges of Court of Appeal (Sir Bernard Rix LJ, TomlinsonLJ, Rimer LJ) had unanimously dismissed the appeal of the Claimant.DETAILED REASONING FOR THE DECISIONLord Justice RixSir Bernard Rix stated that the Claimant has failed to provethat he was subjected to unnecessary andexcessive force. Therefore the claim in assault must fail.Sir Rix LJ observed that ” it is not acceptable for an ordinary citizen to interfere with a person’s libertyby confinding him or her in a doorway”.The findings of Justice Rix are crucial and important, that,a) He was satisfied that not every small interferencewith a citizen’s liberty amounts to a course of conduct sufficient to take anofficer outside the course of his duties.
b) An officer can lawfully detain a person even byforce if necessary, prior to arresting him or herc) The officer’s actions must not go beyondgenerally accepted standards of conduct, of touching a person to engage hisattention.Each case will turn uniquely on it’s own facts. The judge said that if the Constable was wrong he would haveassessed the Claimant’s damages at only £5. If the assault had been proved, hewould have awarded £1400 and £2000 for the detention of 7 hours.Rix LJ referred to the following cases, Collins v.Wilcock 1984 1 WLR 1172 (Div Ct) Donnelly v Jackman 1970 1 WLR 562 Kenin vGardner 1967 2 Q.
B. 510 Rawlings vTill Wiffin vKincard Ludlow vBurgess (Note) 1971 75 Cr.App.R.
227 Wood v. DPP R v. Fiak Austin v.Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis Bird v.Jones McMillan v.Crown Prosecution Service 2008 EWHC (Admin) R v.
CentralCriminal Court ex parte Shah 2013 EWHC 1747 (Admin) Sir Rix, relying on the case Williamv Wilcock, stated that, short of exercising a power of arrest a policeofficer can only act within the acceptable standards of an ordinary citizen. Sothat even if the initial detention wasunlawful, the Claimant’s reaction had been unreasonable and unproportionate. Headded that Mr.Walker was imprisoned unlawfully in the doorway by the Constableeven it was for a brief period of time, such detention might be called”technical” relying on an expression used in Kenlin v Gardiner.
In sum, Rix LJ allowedMr.Walker’s appeal on the first issue and dismissed it on issues two and threewhich meant that the Claimant would receive a nominal amount of £5 onhis first ground.Lord Justice TomlinsonTomlinson LJ agreed to what Rix LJ said and stated that theClaimant’s conduct attracts no sympathy and he has thought the figure”generous to Mr.Walker” when deciding the remedy.
He agrees that there was an unlawful detention and hecharacterised it as brief, trivial and technical amounting to a few seconds. Sothat he rejected the appeal.Lord Justice RimerLord Justice Rimer had agreed to both judgements andrejected the appeal on the first issue.RATIO DECIDENDI