On 12 July 2008 the Claimant Mr. Walker got into a fight
with 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 the
claimant was taken off to the police station and where there he was detained
for 7 hours and was charged with assault of a police officer in the execution
of his duty dated 23rd September 2008. He was acquitted on the
grounds that his initial detention had been unlawful. The district judge found
that the police officer had restricted the claimant’s movements in a doorway,
without intending or purporting to arrest him, thereby detaining him
unlawfully. He claimed damages for false imprisonment, assault and malicious
prosecution. The trial of the claim took place before a judge alone, His Honour
Judge Freeland QC in the Central London County Court. The judge rejected his
evidence and accepted the police evidence so that the claim failed totally. The
Claimant then appealed to the Court of Appeal.
MR. WALKER’S EVIDENCE
According to the Claimant, he was punched in the face by the
police officer PC Adams several times in his attempt to give himself a room to
breathe, and was carried to a police police van. Grievous bodily harm which
could be found in his injuries were evidence.
The police officer PC Adams stated that he positioned
himself only to prevent the Claimant getting past and did not touch the
Claimant at all. Thereafter the Claimant had pushed him firmly in the chest
which was at that point that the police officer decided to arrest the Claimant
for Public Order and it was Section 5 which PC Adams had in mind but he
THE JUDGE’S REASONING IN THE MAGISTRATES’ COURT
The judge’s findings were in favour of the police. The judge
stated that the Claimant was not at all calmed down his behaviour by the time
the police arrived and he was fully satisfied by a very wide margin that the
claimant pushed the officer first and he rejected any suggestion that the
Constable was aggressive (at 115 116 117). The judge fully satisfied that
the Constable had Section 5 in his mind and he rejected the Claimant’s case and
the claim for malicious prosecution got nowhere.
However, there was a legal weakness in the Commissioner’s
defence to Mr. Walker’s Claim that the Constable has failed to effect a lawful
arrest according to Section 28(3) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
(‘ PACE’) which provides that ” no arrest is lawful unless the person
arrested is informed of the ground for the arrest at the time of, or as soon as
practicable after, the arrest” and the reason which the Constable gave
(” Public Order”) was insufficient for ground for arrest.
QUESTIONS OF LAW/ ISSUES
The issues on appeal were;
– Was Mr. Walker’s
initial detention in the doorway unlawful, thus amounting to false
– If so, was Mr. Walker’s reaction to that detention a reasonable and proportionate
exercise in self- defence?
– Was the purported
arrest for ” public order” a valid arrest within section 28(3) of PACE?
The judges of Court of Appeal (Sir Bernard Rix LJ, Tomlinson
LJ, Rimer LJ) had unanimously dismissed the appeal of the Claimant.
DETAILED REASONING FOR THE DECISION
Lord Justice Rix
Sir Bernard Rix stated that the Claimant has failed to prove
that he was subjected to unnecessary and
excessive 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 liberty
by confinding him or her in a doorway”.
The findings of Justice Rix are crucial and important, that,
He was satisfied that not every small interference
with a citizen’s liberty amounts to a course of conduct sufficient to take an
officer outside the course of his duties.
An officer can lawfully detain a person even by
force if necessary, prior to arresting him or her
The officer’s actions must not go beyond
generally accepted standards of conduct, of touching a person to engage his
Each case will turn uniquely on it’s own facts.
The judge said that if the Constable was wrong he would have
assessed the Claimant’s damages at only £5. If the assault had been proved, he
would have awarded £1400 and £2000 for the detention of 7 hours.
Rix LJ referred to the following cases,
Wilcock 1984 1 WLR 1172 (Div Ct)
Donnelly v Jackman 1970 1 WLR 562
Gardner 1967 2 Q.B. 510
Burgess (Note) 1971 75 Cr.App.R. 227
Wood v. DPP
R v. Fiak
Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis
Crown Prosecution Service 2008 EWHC (Admin)
R v. Central
Criminal Court ex parte Shah 2013 EWHC 1747 (Admin)
Sir Rix, relying on the case William
v Wilcock, stated that, short of exercising a power of arrest a police
officer can only act within the acceptable standards of an ordinary citizen. So
that even if the initial detention was
unlawful, the Claimant’s reaction had been unreasonable and unproportionate. He
added that Mr.Walker was imprisoned unlawfully in the doorway by the Constable
even 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 allowed
Mr.Walker’s appeal on the first issue and dismissed it on issues two and three
which meant that the Claimant would receive a nominal amount of £5 on
his first ground.
Lord Justice Tomlinson
Tomlinson LJ agreed to what Rix LJ said and stated that the
Claimant’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 he
characterised it as brief, trivial and technical amounting to a few seconds. So
that he rejected the appeal.
Lord Justice Rimer
Lord Justice Rimer had agreed to both judgements and
rejected the appeal on the first issue.