On Thursday 16 January 2014 I settled Mark Holt’s claim for unlawful arrest compensation and assault for a five-figure sum, plus legal costs.
Mr. Holt (pictured) has agreed to me using his details in this case report.
Background to this Unlawful Arrest Compensation claim
Mr. Holt’s claim for unlawful arrest compensation came about after a day out in Liverpool with his wife.
Mark, 53, is a successful local businessman who is well-known in his community. He has never been in trouble with the police before.
On 10 January 2012, after a full day’s shopping he went for a meal with his wife, where they had shared a bottle of wine, and he had a double whiskey later that day.
They then went to Liverpool Central Station at 9.45p.m. to get the train home.
Mrs. Holt had her ticket to hand and went through the ticket barrier without fuss. Mark, carrying shopping, had to stop to get his ticket out.
A ticket inspector approached him and said, ‘you’re drunk, you’re not travelling’.
Mark, who was neither drunk nor disorderly, calmly inserted his ticket into the barrier’s ticket reader. The inspector, who had locked the barrier gates, called for help.
Mark tried to go through the barriers again. They remained locked. As he complained to the ticket inspector a security guard employed by Carlisle Security (a private security firm contracted by Merseyrail, the train station operators) came over.
The guard immediately wrestled Mark into a headlock and down to the ground. Mark fell face-first, breaking his top right front tooth and cutting his lip.
The guard and one of his colleagues pinned Mark to the ground until British Transport Police arrived.
The first guard told the police that Mark was drunk and abusive and had swung a punch which missed. Because of this the guard, who was afraid for his own safety, wrestled Mr. Holt to the ground.
The police accepted the guard’s false account and arrested Mark for a breach of Section 4 of the Public Order Act (1986) for using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour against someone with intent to cause that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used against him.
Mark was kept in a police cell overnight, interviewed, and released twelve hours later on police bail.
Several weeks later he was told that no further action would be taken against him.
He instructed me to pursue an unlawful arrest compensation claim.
Evidence to Prove an Unlawful Arrest Compensation Claim
Mr. Holt’s claim was unusual in that it was a compensation claim for unlawful arrest by a private security guard, not the police.
Occasionally I come across cases involving security guards and others acting with police-like powers. In such cases I also investigate if the police themselves have any liability.
In Mark’s case it was clear from the beginning that the real culprit was not the arresting officer from British Transport Police. Instead it was the security guard who acted without lawful authority.
So I prepared to submit Mark’s claim for unlawful arrest compensation and assault to Carlisle Security.
To do so I immediately requested CCTV footage from the station operators and the police station which held Mark overnight.
This evidence supported Mr. Holt’s version of events.
I also took statements from Mark and his wife. These helped identify the full extent of the unlawful arrest compensation claim.
To help value the claim I commissioned three medical reports:
1. Dental Report
Mark’s front right tooth was broken in the assault so I obtained a report from a dental surgeon who confirmed that Mark needed a porcelain bonded crown. This will need to be replaced once more during his lifetime. His dental treatment costs exceeded £700 and these were to be included in the claim.
2. Orthopaedic Medical Report
I also had an expert in musculo-skeletal medicine examine my client. This doctor confirmed the injury to Mark’s upper lip, headaches, straining injuries to the neck, shoulders, and lower back, and anxiety.
The expert noted that Mark had ongoing discomfort when sitting, driving, and in his social life. The assault prevented him from going to the gym for 9 months and he lost sleep due to the pain.
3. Psychologist’s Report
Mark also suffered psychologically.
He was humiliated in full view of the public and his wife, who was powerless to help as he was assaulted. He became withdrawn and avoided going out of the house for 3-4 weeks. He had sleepless nights and was nervous when seeing the police.
I arranged for him to be medically examined by a psychologist. After a thorough assessment, the psychologist confirmed that Mark had suffered an Adjustment Disorder which was expected to continue for 8-9 months after the incident.
Pursuing an Unlawful Arrest Compensation Claim
I submitted full details of Mr. Holt’s claim to Carlisle Security, the private security firm responsible.
Their Head of Legal responded by denying liability.
He explained that Carlisle Security provide ‘byelaw enforcement officers’ to ‘support Merseyrail staff’ in enforcement.
Even though he had reviewed the same CCTV footage I had seen, it was his opinion that Carlisle’s guards were merely supporting Merseyrail staff in upholding a byelaw preventing people from using the trains if they appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or showing anti-social behaviour.
The issue of giving a false report to British Transport Police was not mentioned.
Legal Proceedings for Unlawful Arrest Compensation
The Civil Procedure Rules encourage both parties to exchange evidence before issuing proceedings to encourage early settlement.
I asked Carlisle Security for the incident report, training records and witness statements.
They failed to provide them so I had no alternative but to issue proceedings for specific disclosure of these documents.
My application was approved by a District Judge and some evidence was provided under the terms of the Court Order.
In the meantime, Carlisle’s insurers admitted liability.
I felt that Mark’s claim went beyond unlawful arrest compensation and assault. The security guards’ conduct was ‘arbitrary, high-handed, intimidating and oppressive’ so I argued for aggravated damages.
I also argued for exemplary damages, which were to punish the Defendant for the guard’s false statements and violent conduct.
We entered into negotiations, but the insurers refused to settle at an appropriate level which covered aggravated and exemplary damages.
So, this time I issued full court proceedings intending to go to court and have a judge decide.
Outcome of Legal Proceedings for Unlawful Arrest Compensation
We continued to negotiate. Eventually settlement was agreed at a five-figure sum which was nearly double the insurer’s original offer.
The private security guards employed by Carlisle acted with police-like powers when they arrested and detained my client.
Although Mr. Holt suffered greatly, by making an unlawful arrest compensation claim he is satisfied that justice has been done.
Media Coverage of this Unlawful Arrest Compensation Claim
Mark’s case was reported in his local daily newspaper, the Liverpool Echo. You can read it and see footage of the unlawful arrest and assault here.
Mark makes the point in the article that stopping people from using the train network after they have had a couple of drinks makes no sense. It would be bad for the city and encourage drink driving. He encourages Merseyrail to review their procedures.
The public comments section beneath the article shows wide support for him and his claim against Carlisle Security.
The Daily Mirror also reported the story and showed CCTV footage of the incident.
If you would also like to make a claim for unlawful arrest compensation contact me using the online form below, on 0151 933 5525, or via my firm’s website.