Met pay up for report forgery

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The Metropolitan Police have paid out substantial damages in an out-of- court settlement after officers were found to have forged the station custody record of a 74-year-old man.

A report by the forensic handwriting expert Robert Radley, who advised in the Bridgewater Three case, concluded that the man, the Jamaican-born Harold McKenzie could not have written signatures on the custody record, which showed he had accepted a caution for being drunk and disorderly, and a property sheet following an arrest in October 1993. An internal investigation has been launched.

Mr Radley's report said that the signatures were "consistent with someone crudely writing the name TH Mackenzie [sic]" as opposed to directly copying a genuine signature.

The report continued: "If one considers the known and questioned signatures, there are fundamental differences in the way in which virtually every letter form is produced and even the signature on the station record appears to be misspelt `Mac...'"

Mr McKenzie, from west London, claimed aggravated and exemplary (punitive) damages for unlawful arrest and false imprisonment. The false signatures were discovered when his solicitor, John Palmer, sought discovery of the police station records.

The Metropolitan Police's solicitors swiftly agreed an out-of-court settlement once Mr Radley's report was completed. The Met have also agreed to expunge the caution for drunkenness from the records.

The incident took place after Mr McKenzie had gone to hospital with a friend who had been stabbed. When officers insisted that Mr McKenzie leave the hospital he claims he was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, kept face down on the floor of the van during the journey to the station and never told the reason for his arrest.