Nurse paid pounds 7,500 over prostitute claim: Woman claimed misconduct by police

THE Metropolitan Police have paid pounds 7,500 damages to a nurse 'of impeccable character' who was arrested and charged with being a prostitute.

In the early hours of 7 June 1991, Patricia McNulty, then a 20-year-old student nurse, was returning home from a social engagement when she was stopped by police in Bayswater Road, west London, an area frequented by prostitutes, her solicitor Ian Dumont, told Mr Justice Buckley at the High Court in London yesterday.

Miss McNulty, who comes from a strongly religious family in Northern Ireland, was held in custody at Notting Hill police station and charged with 'being a common prostitute, loitering for the purposes of prostitution', the court was told.

The student nurse, then living in Harlesden, north-west London, was taken to the cells at Marylebone magistrates' court and later that day appeared before stipendiary Sir Brian Roberts, who 'forcefully' remarked that the charge could not be pursued because she was not a 'common prostitute'.

The Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence and Miss McNulty was discharged.

In an agreed statement read out in court, Mr Dumont said Miss McNulty had left Northern Ireland to pursue her studies in London in 1987.

Her court appearance was given newspaper publicity in the area where she lived and worked in London and in London-based Irish papers, one of which published her family's address.

Miss McNulty, who was not in court yesterday, sued for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

She sought aggravated damages for the 'anxiety, distress and humiliation caused by this degrading treatment' and exemplary damages 'to reflect the arbitrary and unconstitutional nature of the police misconduct', Mr Dumont said.

The police, who were not represented in court, had now paid her pounds 7,500 together with legal costs, believed to be pounds 3,500, he said.