Police – psychiatric harm – ex turpi causa
High Court, Queen’s Bench Division: Males J
8 January 2015
The claimant sought damages for psychiatric injury in the form of an adjustment disorder. He argued that this arose from a breach of duty owed to him by the Chief Constable, who accepted vicarious liability for the acts and omissions of the collaborative police unit, where the claimant worked. During this period the claimant’s misuse of cocaine came to light, which meant that he was no longer able to continue in this role. The court determined that the claimant’s disorder had resulted from the loss of status and identity which occurred after the misconduct came to light. Judgment was entered for the defendant.
The claimant worked as an undercover officer tasked with gathering intelligence in relation to a serious organised criminal group. The claimant was found to be misusing cocaine and was offered alternative employment within the police. He applied for ill-health retirement, which was granted by the medical appeal board.
The claimant argued that the defendant had breached his duty of care for failing to provide appropriate support, and that this had resulted in his adjustment disorder. The defendant contended that any psychiatric harm was attributable to the claimant’s own misconduct.
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