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Pc nears end of 16-year fight to clear his name

A DISPUTE between a sacked police constable who refused to join in the "canteen culture" of the police and his former bosses at Scotland Yard may finally be settled after 16 years.

Gordon Warren was dismissed from the Metropolitan Police in 1986 after he had been declared mentally unstable for four years by police doctors.

The High Court, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords declared the findings unlawful; two chief commissioners of police have issued unreserved apologies, and Mr Warren and his local MP, Tom Brake, recently met Home Office minister Alun Michael to try to resolve the dispute. A new, final settlement is being considered

Mr Warren had an unblemished police record of 27 years and his 30-year marriage broke up under the strain of the ordeal. The dispute, involving four investigations, has cost the taxpayer more than pounds 350,000.

In the past 11 years Mr Warren has refused four offers of police pensions worth some pounds 350 per month. "I was not sick. My good name means everything, they could offer me pounds 1m but I won't sacrifice that principle," Mr Warren said.

Mr Warren's problems began in 1982 when he broke with the "canteen culture" and refused to join a party at Sutton police station organised in police time. Mr Warren recalled "on that night there were no policemen on the streets of Sutton. They were all at the party".

Mr Warren was declared over-reactive and suffering from poor judgement. In 1985 Dr Charles Bott declared him paranoid and unfit for duty. Dr Bott was overruled by two medical referees but in 1986 again declared that Mr Warren had a personality disorder with paranoid tendencies. "I was then kicked out of the force," Mr Warren said.

In l988 the High Court declared the medical certificate signed by Dr Bott unlawful, on the grounds it had "the appearance of bias", and awarded Mr Warren pounds 12,000. The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court decision. Then the case went to the House of Lords where the decision was again upheld.

In 1994 a deal was struck that included an apology, an exemplary certificate of discharge and adequate compensation from the Metropolitan Police. In return Mr Warren was to remain silent on the issue. In 1995 The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, admitted "there was no truth in the allegations of mental illness or personality disorder with paranoid tendencies". He unreservedly expressed "regret at the distress caused".

Despite this apology, the final settlement offer of pounds 85,000 was rejected and Mr Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, wrote to Sir Paul claiming that Mr Warren should be awarded pounds 300,000 to cover legal costs, lost pension and earnings, and trauma. Mr Brake said: "With its hint of masonic intrigue, allegations of pay-offs ... and police malpractice, I had expected a more positive response from the Home Office."