Family paid damages over police raid: Community worker describes being subjected to a humiliating ordeal by officers after the Broadwater Farm riots. Heather Mills reports

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The Independent Online
A COMMUNITY worker described being arrested with a gun thrust into his ribs, held incommunicado for 36 hours, subject to racist taunts and brought only two meals - both inedible because they were covered in spit.

Stafford Scott, 33, said he was stripped, searched and made to provide samples of hair, blood and saliva before being released without charge. Yesterday he, his brother, Millard, 35, and mother, Beverley, 66, were awarded 'very substantial' damages from the Metropolitan Police over their claims for aggravated damages for assault, false imprisonment, trespass and malicious prosecution.

Central London County Court was told that they were the subject of a humiliating and traumatic ordeal at the hands of officers who raided their home after the 1985 riots on Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, north London, in which their colleague, Constable Keith Blakelock, was killed.

The award came on the day that Kent Police denied liability but agreed to pay pounds 25,000 to Ricardo McLeish, who had alleged he had been kicked, called a 'black bastard' and unlawfully imprisoned.

Stafford Scott was a youth worker employed by Haringey council in north London and was sent to the estate on the day of the riots to try and calm the situation. 'Obviously I failed,' he said. But subsequently he appeared on Granada Television's World in Action programme speaking out in defence of the community. The police raid took place two days later.

'I thought I might attract police attention, but what I did not expect was that my sisters, my mother and my father would be terrified by police pointing guns at them. What terrified me about the gun in my ribs, was that the officer holding it was obviously nervous and keyed up,' he said.

A statement read to the court by Raju Bhatt, the family's solicitor, alleged that on the way to the police station an officer said to Stafford Scott that he had seen him on television, 'that he did not appear like 'those other dumb bastards', that he was 'an intelligent nigger' and that he was going to 'have him' as a 'ringleader'.'

Mr Scott said: 'I can't begin to tell you what it was like at Wood Green police station. It was full of officers who were angry that a colleague had been killed in an horrendous way. Every time I was moved from one room to another it was like the whole place came to a standstill and everyone stared. It was a very, very, very hostile and intimidating place to be.'

The court was told that after Millard Scott's arrest and detention he was charged with obstructing a police officer but was later acquitted by magistrates. Mrs Scott, who had been ordered to leave her home while armed police searched it, had been traumatised by her experience and diagnosed as suffering from acute anxiety syndrome.

The Metropolitan Police denied the allegations and liability, but agreed to pay the damages, plus the family's legal costs.

Outside court, Stafford Scott, who is now a community development officer in Waltham Forest, said: 'This case was never about money. It was about clearing our names once and for all and about showing the police they cannot act in this fashion.'

(Photograph omitted)