Tuesday 22 March 2011

Something Of A Dilemma….

Essex Police have been ordered to pay £4,000 in compensation to a retired lawyer who was wrongly arrested.
Police vs lawyer? Who to root for?

Geoffrey Silkstone became involved in a boundary dispute with his former neighbour on the Essex/Suffolk border and got an injunction against him.

However, at 6.15am one day he was arrested on suspicion of harassment and was questioned for six hours at a police station.

When he returned to answer his bail two months later, he was interviewed for a further six hours.
Seems fairly normal.
The matter was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, which determined there was no criminal case to answer.

It also advised the dispute was a matter for the civil courts.
Ah. Oh dear.
Mr Silkstone, 68, was not told of the decision for another six weeks.
Now he has won almost £4,000 in compensation and damages from Essex Police after taking legal action against the Chief Constable for unlawful arrest and false imprisonment.

Essex Police were also ordered to pay his costs, which totalled more than £43,000, as well as picking up the bill for their legal fees.
Of course, this will ultimately get paid by….guess who?
Mr Silkstone, who now lives in Stanway, said at the end of the judgment, the police’s barrister asked for the case to be referred to appeal on a point of law – a bid rejected by the judge.
Double or quits?

After all, it’s not like they are gambling with their own money, is it? Or if there’ll be any real consequences, either.
Mr Silkstone said: “It was absolutely amazing.

“After spending almost £100,000 of taxpayers’ money on this, they are seemingly prepared to waste even more money on this matter.

“At no point in the two years did the police try to settle this.”
I wonder why..?
A spokeswoman for the force said: “Essex Police are disappointed at the judgment, but will review the judge’s comments to see whether any lessons can be learned.”
To see ‘whether’. So, there might not be any, then?

I can't help but wonder who Mr Silkstone's neighbour was. And what his contacts might have been with Essex Police...


MTG said...

Alas, no 'coming together' then?

All for the want of a track along which the parties can be quickly accelerated from opposing termini.

Roue le Jour said...

Of course a boundary dispute is a civil matter, it's the alleged harassment that is the concern of the police.

As you say, Julia, to get Mr. Silkstone questioned for six hours at a time, twice, over such a minor matter, especially as Mr. Silkstone has already been granted an injunction against his neighbour, rather suggests the neighbour is an ex-copper.

One can't help wondering if it was taking out the injunction that constituted 'harassment'.

Umbongo said...

Also I guess Mr Silkstone's DNA + fingerprint records are now happily ensconced in the police computer.

Again, why was he arrested in the first instance? Generally speaking lawyers are law-abiding members of the community. Unless Mr S was actually harrassing the (presumably per Roue le Jour's suspicion) well-connected neighbour (doubtful at 6:15 in the morning), a quiet talk later in the comfort of Mr S's living room (or next day in an interview room at the local nick) would have sufficed.

But no: as is becoming increasingly evident, the punishment is in the process. The generally law-abiding, who are picked on by the jobsworths with real or imagined "authority" (police, local council, HMRC) and are compelled to "prove" their innocence, suffer.

JuliaM said...

"...rather suggests the neighbour is an ex-copper."

Or a Freemason.

"...as is becoming increasingly evident, the punishment is in the process."

And it's something that's only a punishment to the law-abiding.

Seldon said...

I think the problem with an article such as this is that, from the newspaper, we only hear the side of the lawyer and not the harassed party (neighbour.)

While built as a hero Mr. Silkstone could be far from that.

Harassing an elderly neighbour with court summons, threats, Non stop letters, costing them time, money, health, causing stress etc. all information which may well be true.... but was not stated!

Woman on a Raft said...

it's the alleged harassment that is the concern of the police.

Coming back to this, it must be emphasized: Mr Silkstone got an injuction to stop further encroachment until the boundary dispute was resolved. That's not harrassment - it's a legal procedure he was entitled to engage in. He explained this to the police immediately, since they failed to realize they were acting unlawfully from the very beginning.

It may be very inconvenient to someone who wants to develop a property, but they will have to comply with land law and planning requirements. Insisting, via an injunction, that they do so and desist until the boundaries have been sorted out is entirely lawful and not harassment. It is better for them to do so, since to continue would be contempt of court and ultimately more expensive if they have to take down a wrongly-built extension or driveway.

Since there was no evidence of harassment, the CPS declined to bring a case.

The police were wrong to even entertain the complaint, and it still stinks to high heaven that they did so. What needs to be disclosed is whether the police had any relationship to the complainant or an undisclosed interest in the development.

Anonymous said...

The neighbour who was fully injuncted by a circuit judge in favour of Mr Silkstone was friendly with an Essex police officer who lived two doors away in the same road .

Anonymous said...

The case was tried at Chelmsford County Court. Ref:OCM 00765 . The police officer who lived in the same road two doors away gave a statement against Mr Silkstone. The result was a damning judgment against Essex Police and the police officers involved in Mr Silkstones unlawful arrest. The case will shortly be referred to the IPPC. The judge was highly critical of Essex Police and the officers involved in the case.

Anonymous said...

The internal police investigation into the case apparently appears to detract from the judgment at OCM 00765 and seemingly there is an attempt by the police to gloss over the main criticisms of the judge. The investigation will it seems be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commision ( I P C C ) for them to consider the police report. It remains to be seen as to what conclusions they will draw and recommendations. In Feb 2008 over a 100 lawyers ( Police Watchdog ) who specialise in handling police complaints resigned from the I P C C advisory body citing a pattern of favouritism in favour of the police.

Anonymous said...

The neighbour who was fully injuncted by a circuit judge in favour of Mr SIlkstone was friendly with an Essex police officer who lived two doors away in the same road and who gave a statement against Mr. Silkstone.

Woman on a Raft said...

Thank you for the update.

Also of note:

Lord Hanningfield is not someone for whom I have much sympathy but he too won a case against Essex Police for wrongful arrest and imprisonment in February 2013

Woman on a Raft said...

The stakes are rising very high.

In the current case, a complaint by defence lawyer James Watson has resulted in exemplary damage to the maximum and all his legal fees.

Apart from the cost of a false investigation which should never have been launched, the bill for the complaint is now £550k. There is a further complaint being made according to the story.

"Cleveland Police has agreed to pay £550,000 in damages after prominent defence lawyer James Watson was falsely imprisoned, BBC Newsnight has learned."


Anonymous said...

In Geoffrey Silkstone v Chief Constable of Essex Police following the judgment in case number OCM 00765 Mr Silkstone has now applied for a Judicial Review of the IPCC decision which may be heard in the High Court later this year. The application was encouraged by last years High Court case Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police v IPCC [ 2013] EWHC 2698 in which it was held that the IPCC exceeded its lawful jurisdiction in determining that an arrest was unlawful.In Mr Silkstones case it is claimed that the IPCC appeal assessment is unlawful on the grounds that it attempts to overrule the judiciary.

JuliaM said...


Woman on a Raft said...

The IPCC say that 1 in 3 people are not confident of a complaint being investigated properly.