Scotland Yard faces pounds 500,000 legal bill over Silcott

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SCOTLAND YARD will have to pay up to pounds 500,000 in legal costs after agreeing damages of pounds 50,000 to Winston Silcott for his wrongful conviction for the murder of PC Keith Blakelock.

The size of the legal bill on top of the agreed out of court settlement was greeted with anger last night by relatives and former colleagues of the dead officer.

Silcott brought a case for damages against the Metropolitan Police for wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution after his conviction for murdering PC Blakelock, 40, was quashed in the Court of Appeal.

Solicitors representing Silcott, 37, will apply today at the High Court for about pounds 500,000 from Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, to cover six years of legal costs. The total, which the police can challenge, covers expenses incurred by both sides.

Silcott was convicted in 1987 of being part of a mob that hacked PC Blakelock to death during the Broadwater Farm riots in Tottenham, north London, in 1985. He was later acquitted by the Court of Appeal after evidence showed that crucial police notes of an interview had been altered.

Silcott is currently in jail serving a life sentence for the murder of a 22-year-old boxer, Anthony Smith.

The disclosure last month that the Metropolitan Police had agreed to pay damages rather than go to court caused a furore among Met officers and PC Blakelock's family.

Scotland Yard said the force had "reluctantly" decided to settle out of court without admitting liability.

Glen Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan branch of the Police Federation, said last night: "We would not want to see hundreds of thousands of pounds wasted. This is becoming a joke."

PC Blakelock's former wife, Elizabeth Johnson, now remarried, has said: "It is upsetting and insulting that he has received this money ... it is completely wrong."

The three sons of PC Blakelock have threatened to take civil action and sue Silcott over the death of their father.

But Silcott's brother, George, said last night: "The settlement is further proof that Winston had nothing to do with the death of PC Blakelock and is a victim of a serious miscarriage of justice. I think it's disgraceful that the police ever defended this claim."