Bennett v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and Another

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date07 October 1997
Date07 October 1997
CourtChancery Division

Chancery Division

Before Sir Richard Scott, Vice-Chancellor

Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and Another

Tort - misfeasance in public office - police and prosecution not exempt

Police and prosecution can be liable in tort

Public policy did not exempt the police and the Crown Prosecution Service from the tort of misfeasance in public office committed in the course of the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offence. If the requisite elements of the tort were pleaded and made out they would be liable in the same way as any other holder of public office.

Sir Richard Scott, Vice-Chancellor, so held in the Chancery Division when granting summonses by the first defendant, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and the second defendant, the Crown Prosecution Service, to strike out an action brought by Paul James Bennett as disclosing no reasonable cause of action.

Mr James Lewis for the Commissioner of Police; Miss Clare Montgomery, QC, for the Crown Prosecution Service; Mr Alan Newman, QC and Mr Brian Jubb for Mr Bennett.

THE VICE-CHANCELLOR said that Mr Bennett, a citizen of New Zealand, was arrested by police in South Africa and placed on a flight to London, purportedly for onward flight to New Zealand. On landing at Heathrow, however, he was arrested by the Metropolitan Police and charged with offences under the Theft Act 1978 in connection with the obtaining of a helicopter by deception. He was subsequently committed for trial at the crown court.

Mr Bennett applied for judicial review of his committal on the ground that the circumstances in which he came to be in London were the result of an irregular attempt to evade the requirement for extradition from South Africa.

The Queen's Bench Divisional Court quashed Mr Bennett's committal: see R v Horseferry Road Magistrates' Court, Ex parte Bennett (No 2)TLRUNK (The Times April 1, 1994; [1994] 1 All ER 289).

The crucial document was an internal CPS memorandum dated February 4, 1991 which read: "Detective Sergeant Davies informs me that the S A police are, within the next few days, putting Bennett on a plane to NZ which rather conveniently will stop over at Heathrow! Special Branch have agreed to nick him and he will be taken to City Road for interview/charge. I have asked DS Davies to keep you informed of developments in the week I am off."

The defendants submitted that the statement of claim did not plead the requisite ingredients of the tort of misfeasance in...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 cases

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT