Corset slip costs police 50,000 pounds

Anthony Gilbey, a member of the gin family, yesterday accepted 'very substantial' High Court damages from Suffolk police for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution following his arrest in a gentlemen's lavatory.

Mr Gilbey, 59, said afterwards he had received pounds 50,000 damages and pounds 35,000 costs for 'three and a half years of absolute hell'.

His counsel, Edward Garnier, told Mr Justice Alliott that Mr Gilbey went into a cubicle in a lavatory in Beccles, Suffolk, in June 1989, unaware that police were keeping watch. The police radioed a colleague to say that Mr Gilbey, who has to wear surgical stockings and a corset to deal with a thrombosis, was committing acts of gross indecency with another man.

Mr Gilbey was doing no such thing, Mr Garnier said. Nor was he guilty of conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace, which was the reason the police gave for arresting him.

Over 10 hours of questioning, the police also arrested him on suspicion of being concerned in the murder of a woman whose body had been found on land belonging to the family of his wife, Lady Penelope Gilbey. He was released on bail on charges of gross indecency and breach of the peace, and on suspicion of murder.

At Mr Gilbey's trial, at Ipswich Crown Court in January 1990, on a charge under the Sexual Offences Act, the prosecution offered no evidence against him. The judge directed the jury to acquit and criticised the police for their conduct.

Benjamin Browne, counsel for the Chief Constable of Suffolk, apologised unreservedly for the damage to Mr Gilbey's feelings, good name and reputation.

Mr Gilbey, of Wangford, near Beccles, and Chelsea, west London - whose action included a claim for general, aggravated and exemplary damages - said he estimated his prosecution had cost the public pounds 200,000.