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Miller v The Metropolitan Police
Katie Ayres successfully defended the Metropolitan Police Commissioner in a multi-day Jury Trial before His Honour Judge Saggerson.
The Claimant, Mr Miller, brought claims for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution against the Met Police arising out of an incident at a protest on 5 November 2012. The protest was the first of the annual Million Mask Marches organised by the ‘hacktivist’ group, Anonymous. The protest was not altogether peaceful and there were several arrests made on the night. The relevant portions of the evening took place outside the Palace of Westminster.
Mr Miller alleged that he had been falsely accused of twice pushing a police officer whilst at the front of police lines. His arrest and detention thereafter was therefore, he said, unlawful. Additionally, he alleged that the police officers who arrested him fabricated evidence in order to bring about his prosecution.
Mr Miller gave evidence that he was ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’ and only found himself at the front of the police line when being propelled there by protestors pushing him for behind. A wealth of video surveillance evidence suggested that this was not entirely correct.
The arresting officer gave evidence that he remembered Mr Miller pushing him twice and, due to his very distinctive outfit (a bright orange jumper and multicoloured hat), he made a note of who he was at the time and later arrested him for the offence once the protest had calmed down somewhat. The officer had also written down a very full and detailed account of the events at the protest immediately afterwards in his Evidence and Actions Book. The arrest was uneventful and straightforward, or so he at the time thought.
The Jury were asked to determine the following questions of fact and provided the answers set out below:
1. Have the Police proved that it is more likely than not that the officer had an honest suspicion that Mr Miller had committed the offence of assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty? [ANSWER: YES]
2. Have the Police proved that it is more likely than not that the officer held an honest belief that the arrest of Mr Miller was necessary? [ANSWER: YES]
3. Have the Police proved that it is more likely than not that Mr Miller was informed of the grounds for his arrest either at the time of the arrest or as soon as was reasonably practicable thereafter? [ANSWER: YES]
4. Has Mr Miller proved that it is more likely than not that the officer called him a ‘T**t’? [ANSWER: NO]
5. Have the police proved that it is more likely than not that Mr Miller was held in custody at the police station for no longer than was necessary? [ANSWER: YES]
6. Has Mr Miller proved that it is more likely than not that the arresting officers deliberately fabricated their evidence with the intention of bringing about his prosecution for Assault? [ANSWER: NO]
His Honour Judge Saggerson, taking into account these findings of fact, then ruled on the residual points of law as follows:
7. The officer’s suspicion that Mr Miller had committed the offence of assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty was reasonable; and
8. The officer’s decision to arrest Mr Miller was reasonable.
The claim was therefore dismissed in full.