Doctor wins £50,000 after police spying

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The Independent Online

A doctor has won £50,000 in compensation after police illegally used a CCTV camera to spy on his home.

John Diggle and his family were subjected to round-the-clock secret surveillance after a series of rows with their neighbour, Eugene Collins, a retired police inspector.

Mr Collins had complained to Gwent Police, his former employer, that Dr Diggle's 20-year-old son, Tom, had been throwing eggs at his house.

The neighbours had been embroiled in a five-year feud, triggered when Mr Collins complained about Dr Diggle's dog barking at night. Gwent Police then set up a hidden camera trained on Dr Diggle's home in Caerleon, near Newport, south Wales.

The GP discovered his family was being watched only when a police officer told him that Tom, a student, had been taped throwing an egg at Mr Collins' house.

Dr Diggle, 47, reported the case to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), claiming that Gwent Police had also treated his son unfairly by arresting him at school over an argument in a nightclub. Tom, who is studying leisure management at university, was later charged with assault but the case was thrown out by a magistrates' court.

The PCA upheld a series of complaints by Dr Diggle and Gwent Police agreed to pay him £50,000 in compensation.

The surveillance had been authorised for 28 days, but it had already run for 31 when Dr Diggle was told of its existence and complained.

Dr Diggle said: "I was a complete supporter of the police but that has totally changed now and I wouldn't trust them at all ...The whole thing was unbelievable and a complete waste of resources for the sake of an egg."

A statement from Gwent Police said: "The complaint was investigated by the Complaints and Discipline Department and certain matters substantiated ... The surveillance had overrun the original authorised period by three days and was, therefore, unlawful. The Diggle family ... made a civil claim and this has recently been settled."