Damages for former Yard chief

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The Independent Online
COMMANDER George Churchill-Coleman, former head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch, accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages in the High Court yesterday over a newspaper report that he had been dismissed from his job for incompetence.

Mr Justice Otton was told that the Sunday Express article last September said that the Home Secretary was dissatisfied with Mr Churchill-Coleman's performance and that morale within the squad was extremely low.

'Nothing could have been further from the truth,' said Caroline Kean, a solicitor.

The skill and dedication with which Mr Churchill-Coleman had carried out his job between August 1985 and November 1992 had been recognised by the Home Secretary.

He had always had the full confidence of his staff, whose morale had never been less than excellent, Miss Kean said.

Mr Churchill-Coleman, who now commands the Metropolitan and City Police Company Fraud Department, wanted the transfer to take place and was consulted about his successor.

Caroline Addy, counsel for the publishers, Express Newspapers, Eve Pollard, the editor, and two journalists, Barrie Penrose and Oonagh Blackman, said they accepted that the allegations were unjustified and without foundation. They apologised for the embarrassment and distress caused and had agreed to pay the commander damages and all his legal costs.