Elite squad detective sues over `damaged hearing'

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The Independent Online
A former detective who was routinely "wired up" with a radio and earpiece during four years of elite squad secret surveillance on major criminals is suing her police employers, claiming the equipment damaged her hearing and forced her into early retirement.

Laura Dyer, 48, is claiming pounds 500,000 compensation against the Metropolitan Police, which employed her in the Serious and Organised Crime Squad and the Flying Squad, in the High Court in London.

Mrs Dyer, of Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, told the High Court in London she would have carried on in the job she loved until completing 30 years' service in 2003, but for the presence of "the enemy" - the buzzing, crackling tinnitus in her ears. Now working part time in the training department of a firm of estate agents, she said the noises were present as she was giving evidence. She said she could not go swimming with her 11-year-old daughter because of the enhanced noises in her ears, and travelling on the Underground was a traumatic experience.

The police deny allegations that they negligently exposed Mrs Dyer to excessive noise and failed to guard against the potential risks of wearing a receiver earpiece over long periods. Mrs Dyer also claims that ear infections from which she suffered were due to the lack of proper sterilisation facilities and the exchange of earpieces among officers.

Her counsel, John Foy QC, told Mr Justice Garland the volume level of the speech received by the radio hidden in her handbag during undercover operations was too high - although experts in the case were divided on this.

The noise was made worse by extraneous factors such as vehicles, video channels and stray electro-magnetic fields, he said.

The case continues.

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