Detective 'held in cell' sues police for £50,000 over 'jailing'

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The Independent Online

A Special Branch detective allegedly detained in a police cell for refusing to testify against a colleague accused of headbutting a suspect is claiming £50,000 in damages from Kent County Constabulary for false imprisonment.

A Special Branch detective allegedly detained in a police cell for refusing to testify against a colleague accused of headbutting a suspect is claiming £50,000 in damages from Kent County Constabulary for false imprisonment.

In a High Court case to be heard later this year, Sergeant Stephen Morris will seek the compensation for posttraumatic stress disorder and depression.

Sgt Morris, whose legal action is being supported by the Police Federation, said he was held against his will after refusing to make a statement saying that he had seen his colleague, Detective Constable Peter Farrell, headbutting Paul Bridgeman a convicted criminal, at his home in 1993.

Three years later he was arrested at the county police headquarters in Maidstone for perverting the course of justice, it is alleged in a claim lodgedin the High Court. Kent police said it would be disputing the allegation but gave no further comment.

On 28 July 1993 Sgt Morris, 49, from Ashford, Kent, had gone with other officers toPaul Bridgeman's home in Chatham, to execute a search warrant. Bridgeman alleged that during the search he had been headbutted in the face and had his nose broken by DC Farrell, who alleged Bridgeman had struck him.

On 23 September 1993 Sgt Morris made a statement concerning his attendance at the property, but made no reference to any physical contact between Bridgeman and DC Farrell because he said he did not see any. Bridgeman was convicted of possessing controlled drugs with intent to supply but cleared of assault.

A senior officer and a police sergeant were assigned to investigate his complaint of assault against DC Farrell.

In June 1995 Sgt Morris was contacted by the investigating team and asked to make a witness statement, saying he had seen an exchange of blows between DC Farrell and Bridgeman. But Sgt Morris repeatedly said he would not make a statement that he did not believe to be true.

He was later instructed to go to his head of department at Dover, where he was ordered to comply with the request to supply a witness statement.

When he refused he was warned that non-cooperation "would not be tolerated and that he would have to do what he was told, or suffer the consequences", the court will be told. After his arrest on 13 March 1996, Sgt Morris was taken to Maidstone police station where he was held in custody for eight hours, he claims.

Disciplinary proceedings against him were finally dropped in July 1997 and he returned to work in October 1997.