Shot jogger sues after `bungled stake-out'

The Metropolitan Police is facing one of its most embarrassing civil ac tions for damages, writes Tim Kelsey
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The Independent Online
A pub licensee is suing the police for damages after officers shot him while he was jogging and then allegedly fabricated evidence against both him and a fellow runner, and went on to perjure themselves in court.

In what could be one of the most embarrassing civil actions mounted against the Metropolitan Police, Lee St Rose and Michael Hamill are claiming exemplary damages following a bungled surveillance operation in September 1992 in the East End of London. Mr St Rose was manager of the Flying Scud pub in Hackney Road when police began a surveillance operation near another pub - the Kings Arms - in nearby Bow Road. Police were acting on a tip-off, said to have been untrue, that two men were planning to rob thepub, and were armed, according to a writ lodged in the High Court.

Mr St Rose and Mr Hamill had arranged to go for a run after the Flying Scud closed at 3 pm. As he was changing into his running clothes, Mr St Rose received an anonymous telephone call telling him that some men involved in a brawl at his pub were drinking in the King's Arms. He decided to pay a brief visit to try toidentify them.

The two joggers drove to the pub but did not recognise anyone inside and were standing outside at around 4.15 pm when they decided to go for their run, according to the writ.

Four minutes later, two officers drove up behind them in an unmarked Range Rover and followed them into a nearby park. As the vehicle came to a halt it collided with a park bench.

Then Mr St Rose heard the sound of a gun being fired behind him and he started to run again. A policeman had drawn a self-loading pistol and was firing it as the Range Rover crashed. The policeman thought he had been shot by Mr St Rose but later realisedhe had, in fact, shot himself in the leg. The officer then shot at Mr St Rose and chased him through neighbouring streets. The writ states that Mr St Rose fled because he was "in fear of his life". He ran to the car which had brought him to the King's Arms in the first place. The policeman continued to fire until, at 5.18 pm, Mr St Rose was arrested.

He was unarmed. He had three gunshot wounds to his arm and a laceration to an ear.

Police then raided the Flying Scud and claimed to find a stun gun. The two men were charged with possession of an offensive weapon and conspiracy to rob. On 27 August 1993, a jury unanimously found them not guilty of possessing a firearm. The Crown then dropped the charge of conspiracy to rob.

The writ claims that the prosecution was malicious and that officers "fabricated evidence in order to support the charges". There are a number of police witness statements identified in the writ which are alleged to be false.

Officers are also accused of shooting without discrimination or justification. At no stage were their lives under threat nor did they issue any warning in advance of opening fire.

Since the incident and arrest both men have lost their jobs. In the two years to September 1994, Mr St Rose lost nearly £40,000 in earnings.

Scotland Yard said it was unaware of the action and that no writ had yet been served.

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