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PI and Civil Litigation

Law - practice - procedure

30 DEC 2014

James Browne v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 3999 (QB)

James Browne v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 3999 (QB)
Assault – Actions Against the Police, Unlawful Arrest, Unnecessary Force

High Court, Queen’s Bench Division: Judge Coe QC

 1 December 2014

 The claimant sought damages for assault and battery against the police in respect of a serious leg injury which he had sustained while being restrained during a drugs search. The court held that the police officer involved had used unnecessary and unreasonable force to restrain the claimant which amounted to an assault.

The claimant was accompanied by the comedian and television celebrity Noel Fielding when he was spotted by two police officers while walking down Kentish Town Road at about 10.30 am having been at a party the previous night. The police officers believed that the two men were showing signs of drug use so proceeded to restrain them. Mr Fielding was restrained, handcuffed and searched and taken to the police station. No drugs were found on him and he was released without charge.

 In the course of his restraint the claimant suffered a severe, comminuted fracture of his right tibial plateau known as a Schatzker type 6 fracture. He spent a month in hospital and underwent several operations. The judge found that the police officer had followed the claimant into a convenience store prior to detaining him and that when inside he had decided to use force to restrain him. He did this by using his knee or leg to block the claimant’s leg, or forcibly bend it, and tackle the claimant to the floor, causing the claimant to suffer a fracture to his right leg.

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The claimant succeeded in his claim for assault and battery on the basis that the search of him was unlawful by reason of the failure to give the appropriate information prior to restraining him, and secondly because in any event excessive force was used to restrain him. It was noted that the claimant had suffered a serious injury and had suffered further complications. He was unable to work as a close protection officer as he had done previously. The judge awarded judgment in the sum of £108,491 which included an award of £55,000 for the injury to the claimant’s leg and also included an award of £5,000 for aggravated damages.


The claimant suffered severe injuries in this case at the hands of the police and recovered a significant award as a result. The decision of the court shows that where appropriate, such wrongful actions will be punished and the officer involved held to account for his actions.