Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Former high-flying City banker wins nearly £70,000 from police after they wrongly released his picture as 'most wanted' rapist

A former high-flying City banker who said his reputation was destroyed when he was listed as a 'most wanted' rapist has won almost £70,000 in damages from police.

Anthony Crook, 37, from Clacton, Essex, was working in Dubai when his image was wrongly released by Essex Police as one of their 'ten most wanted' in 2010.

He claimed the worldwide coverage left him 'unemployable' and said the stress led to him drinking heavily and having suicidal thoughts.

Mr Crook sued the force and in a hearing at the High Court today, Judge Deborah Taylor said the release of his name and image was a breach of his human rights.

'His details were published to the world at large,' she told the court. 'Whilst the press release was to local media, no consideration was given to the realities of modern technology: firstly, the potential for information to spread across the internet, and secondly, the difficulty once spread in eradicating that.

'The police lost control of the data. It was not on posters they could take down and photographs they could take from shopkeepers.'

The court heard Mr Crook had been warned by a friend that a 'malicious' complaint might be made against him and had called Essex Police. But he was told by officers that no such allegation had been received and thought that was the end of the matter, he said.

He only found out about the article - alleging he was wanted and at large over an alleged rape in Clacton - through his family. The article was accompanied by his address from his City days in Clapham and a photo which had been taken when he was a dreadlocked teenager.

Mr Crook said the allegation was 'malicious' and there was no need to publicise it, as he had already offered to speak to police to clear it up.

The result was that he was left 'unemployed and unemployable', his lawyers told the High Court. 'There was a level of shock and embarrassment. You are defined by the career you have,' he told Judge Deborah Taylor. 'I was financially in a very good place and that's completely wiped out overnight.

'It's an allegation of a sexual assault. There's a stigma attached to that which stays with you forever.

'The fact they didn't remove these things for such a long period of time made it impossible to get back into work and rebuild my life.'

Mr Crook contacted the force, which ultimately agreed to have the story removed, but it had already spread via other media around the world.

He was horrified to find his name was even featured on the website of a newspaper in India, he told the judge. 'We were having to constantly search to find these links and provide them to the police,' he continued. 'The fact that they were there until 2013, three years after I contacted the police, just isn't satisfactory.'

The stress led to him drinking heavily and having suicidal thoughts, he added.

He sued for breach of confidence, in publishing the old photo, and for breaches of the Data Protection Act and a violation of his human right to privacy.

Essex Police claimed the publication was in the public interest, but the judge said it was not 'reasonable, necessary and proportionate'.

The judge rejected his claim that the publication directly led to him losing two good jobs - but said it had adversely affected his ability to get another.

She awarded £5,000 for his psychiatric problems, £57,750 for loss of earnings, £2,000 basic damages and £3,000 aggravated damages.

Speaking outside court, Mr Crook said: 'I am extremely happy that I have been vindicated and the police have finally been held to account. 'I now feel my name has been cleared and there has been an acknowledgement that the police had done wrong.

'Had they held their hands up in the first place and given me some kind of apology, we wouldn't have ended up in the High Court.'

Original report here

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