Man wins pounds 81,000 after unlawful arrest

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The Independent Online
A file on the conduct of up to seven West Midlands police officers has been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions after a jury awarded a West Indian man pounds 81,000 for unlawful arrest, assault and malicious prosecution.

Judge Caroline Alton referred the case to the DPP, Dame Barbara Mills, at the conclusion of the civil claim brought by former nightclub doorman Michael Smith, 41,from Wolverhampton, who the jury found suffered a fractured coccyx at the hands of officers.

"This is the sort of case that combines a series of matters involving violence, racism and lying before the court," the judge said.

The pounds 81,000 includes pounds 45,000 exemplary damages designed to punish the police for their misconduct and pounds 22,000 in aggravated damages, which are intended to reflect high-handed, insulting or oppressive conduct.

The case is the second to be referred to the DPP to consider a prosecution since new rules relating to police misconduct were brought in a fortnight ago.

Under the new regime, before deciding whether to prosecute the DPP must seek the advice of independent Treasury counsel and if she disagrees with it, consult the Attorney General and Solicitor General.

The jury's verdict on the malicious prosecution claim amounts to a finding that officers lied at a criminal trial of charges that Mr Smith had assaulted a member of the public and two officers. The jury also heard evidence of racial abuse by officers, including calling Mr Smith a "black kaffir". The judge instructed the jury that while Mr Smith had not "played the race card", they were entitled when assessing damages to take into account the fact that he was black and that there could have been a racial element to the case.