My client CB brought a claim against Merseyside Police arising out of the following events which occurred in 2012.
CB entered into an agreement for lease of commercial premises with PC N a serving Officer with the Merseyside Police force.
When a dispute occurred in relation to the lease PC N came to CB’s house, where he was at home with his partner, on 16th April 2012 and when CB answered the door he was assaulted by PC N who pushed him backwards, swearing at him and demanding payment of alleged rental arrears.
Confronted by violence and threats CB asked his partner to call the Police whereupon PC N stated “I am the Police”.
PC N then went on to imply that he could use his position in the Police force to “Do” my client.
With other Police Officers on the way, PC N then left my client’s home.
It was clear that a claim for compensation should be brought on behalf of CB and his partner in regards to the assault and trespass which they had suffered at the hands of PC N who was misusing the authority vested in him as a Police Officer.
As the case continued, we uncovered the fact that PC N had on or about 20th March 2012 accessed the Merseyside Police computer system “Corvus” and carried out a location search on our client’s home address and also a person search on our client, including his crime victim summary and crime offender summary.
PC N was subsequently charged with misconduct in relation to these events and in interview on 13th August 2012 admitted that there was no Policing purpose to justify these searches.
In the circumstances therefore, we brought the claim on behalf of CB not only for assault and trespass but also for breach of The Data Protection Act 1998.
Furthermore, the information held on the computer system constituted private and personal information within the scope of article 8, ESHR. Our client had a reasonable expectation that such information would not be accessed without authority and/or lawful purpose.
In fact, PC N had clearly accessed this documentation to further his own personal ends/vendetta against our client, and as such this was a flagrant breach of the powers and responsibilities vested in him as a Police Officer.
It is very important that as a civil society we respect each individual’s right to privacy of their personal data.
My client’s claim against Merseyside Police, who admitted liability for the illegal actions of PC N, was eventually settled for a payment of damages in the sum of £3,000.
Unauthorised access to medical records
Sadly the above case, of an individual who works for a public authority taking advantage of their position to illegally access the data of people with whom they have private business or personal relationships is far from unique, and indeed we must wonder how many time people get away with this sort of behaviour without being caught.
In 2012 the Plymouth Herald reported on a case in which Shaun Grinyer was awarded £18,000 damages from Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust after his ex-girlfriend, who worked for the trust as a health care assistant illegally accessed and read medical records held by the trust relating to Mr Grinyer’s mental health history.
The newspaper reported that Mr Grinyer told the Court that his ex-partner had stated “No I’m not supposed to, but everybody does it”.
This was a telling comment. I wonder if PC N of Merseyside Police could have used exactly the same words?