Police pay pounds 50,000 to settle case: An action for damages by a civil rights leader has ended but without an apology. Heather Mills reports

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The Independent Online
ONE OF London's most prominent black figures who claimed that police planted heroin on him to destroy his credibility as a community leader, yesterday accepted pounds 50,000 in settlement of his High Court damages action for false imprisonment, battery and malicious prosecution.

Scotland Yard is now carrying out a disciplinary investigation into the case of Frank Critchlow, 60, who said his personal, family and community life had been destroyed by officers from Notting Hill station, who raided his club, the Mangrove, in 1988.

Police had claimed they found both heroin and cannabis on Mr Critchlow. But during his trial in 1989 - at the height of a long-running saga of bad police-community relations in Notting Hill - he was cleared of all charges, despite the testimony of 36 officers. His damages settlement follows others in 1989 relating to incidents involving Notting Hill officers.

Yesterday, Patrick O'Connor, his counsel, told the High Court that Mr Critchlow had sued the police to vindicate his reputation and to bring to account the officers responsible. He had sought aggravated and exemplary damages to compensate for the humiliation caused by his 'degrading' treatment and to reflect the 'arbitrary and unconstitutional nature of the police misconduct'.

Mr O'Connor said the Metropolitan Police denied Mr Critchlow's allegations. They had refused to offer a word of apology, but had paid pounds 50,000 into court in satisfaction of his claim and agreed to pay his legal costs.

After the hearing Mr Critchlow said that clearing his name was more important to him than the damages. 'This was the ugliest experience in my life. It is something I will never forget and which I will never forgive. I think the officers involved should be charged and they should be thrown out of the service. If this sort of policeman is allowed to stay, all of us - black and white people - have no hope in hell.'