Friday, November 04, 2016

The gay slurs that led to a nine-year battle with London police: Force left with huge legal bill after failing to investigate when man was verbally abused by neighbour

Police have been left with a six-figure legal bill after they failed to investigate claims a gay man was verbally abused by his neighbour.

David Cary, 54, spent nine years fighting the Metropolitan Police after the woman called him a ‘poof’ and a ‘queer’ as he cycled past.

Following the incident in 2007, officers simply passed the comments off as ‘minor words’ and a ‘quibble’.

Now the force has agreed to compensate Mr Cary on the eve of an appeal court showdown.

The case has led to the force setting up a specialist unit to deal with homophobic complaints by both officers and civilians.

The police watchdog has also introduced a compulsory one-day training course for all its caseworkers, investigators and lawyers.

Mr Cary was locked in a dispute with his female neighbour and she had been convicted of breaking his jaw three years earlier.

But after the argument in February 2007, both parties reported the incident to police, who decided to take no further action.

Mr Cary later complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Despite a second investigation into the incident, and the appeal to the police watchdog, still no charges were brought.

The watchdog accepted police had described the abuse as ‘minor words’ and a ‘quibble’ but failed to find they trivialised what occurred.

The victim then instructed lawyers, three years after the incident took place, to bring a claim of discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation.

The IPCC failed to get the claim struck out and settled in 2012. The case against the Met was due to be heard at the Court of Appeal this week but they agreed to settle at the eleventh hour.

The force apologised and court documents released yesterday suggest the Met has been left with a six-figure bill in damages and legal costs.

Mr Cary, who lives in a £500,000 housing association property in Chiswick, west London, said the Metropolitan Police ‘trumpets “homophobic and transphobic abuse is a crime. Report it. Stop it. Don’t tolerate it”.’

But he added: ‘I reported it. They didn’t stop it. They tolerated it. I felt belittled and treated like a second-class citizen.

‘I felt they prolonged the case in the hope of wearing me down. Without the best legal representation and campaigning support that I had, they might have managed it.’

Mr Cary added: ‘It took the IPCC over a year. But once defeated they had the good sense to learn and implement the lessons from my claim. 'In contrast the Met shamelessly dug their heels in for nine years. Those delays are a travesty of justice and professionalism.’

His lawyers said the legal victory will have a significant impact on other complaints of discrimination against the police.

His solicitor Jane Deighton called for an end to ‘knee-jerk reaction into defensive mode when civilians bring police misconduct to the attention of the service’.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘The Metropolitan Police Service is pleased that this case was finally able to reach a settlement and we have apologised to Mr Cary.’

But Lord Paddick, formerly the UK’s most senior openly gay police officer, said: ‘The Met has said they have learnt lessons but how can they say that when it has taken them nine years to admit what happened and to take responsibility?

'The Met have a duty of care and, frankly, they failed.’

Original report here

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