Mr Justice Nicol :
- On 27th January 2009 the Metropolitan Police received intelligence that Curtis Davis, the Claimant, who lived in Kent or London, was assembling some 'muscle' in order to commit a robbery on domestic premises in Rugby, Warwickshire the following day.
- Mr Davis was already known to the Trident unit of the Metropolitan Police. Formally known as SCD8 (Special Crime Directorate 8) this is a unit targeting gangs and gun crime in London. In February 2003 Mr Davis had been in a car in the King's Cross area of London with Carl Robinson when they were stopped by a police officer. Mr Robinson was in possession of a 9mm self-loading automatic pistol which he gave to Mr Davis, who tucked it into the waistband of his trousers. Mr Davis at first appeared co-operative. He introduced himself to the police officers (though with a false name). The officer who searched Mr Robinson found that he had a lock knife tucked into the waist band of his trousers. Mr Davis had by then run off and waved the gun in the direction of the police officers who had stopped the car. He made for a block of flats where his girl friend lived. He had keys to the same block and his girl friend's flat, but dropped them as he ran. In an effort to gain admission, he fired 9 or 10 rounds at the front door of the block. When he was still unable to get in, he again ran off. Still waving the (now empty) gun he tried to commandeer a taxi unsuccessfully, but he did manage to push a motor scooter rider off his vehicle. He was chased and caught. He was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to using a firearm with intent to resist arrest and damaging property being reckless as to whether life was endangered. He was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment (reduced to 8 years by the Court of Appeal). He was released on licence in June 2008 at what would seem to be the 2/3 point of his sentence.
- The Metropolitan Police did not believe that the Claimant's criminal activities then came to an end. In September 2008 an investigation was begun by Trident into him with the name 'Operation Dexirote'. Intelligence which was obtained in October 2008 included claims that Mr Davis was involved in trying to acquire firearms. Trident also believed that Mr Davis's association with Mr Robinson continued. That was significant because Mr Robinson was believed to be involved at a high level in serious offending.
- In response to the intelligence about the intended robbery in Rugby, a firearms authorisation application was made on 28th January 2009 by ZT12 on behalf of an Inspector from the North East Proactive Team of Trident. The plan was for Mr Davis to be kept under surveillance that day. The application was for the surveillance officers to be armed for their own protection and was made to Detective Superintendent Richardson who approved it. However, in addition to agreeing to the arming of the surveillance officers, Det. Sup. Richardson also authorised a team of Specialist Firearm Officers ('SFOs') to be available. These officers are part of the unit of the Metropolitan Police known as SC&O (Specialist Crime and Operations Unit)19, although its previous title, CO19, is also still commonly used. The reason for this 'bolt-on', or additional provision, was as follows. There was no immediate intelligence that Mr Davis or the team of robbers which he was believed to be assembling would be armed. However, the possibility that they would acquire a firearm before they left London could not be discounted. If that occurred, police policy was to arrest those responsible as soon as reasonably practicable. If such an arrest was necessary, it would not be carried out by the surveillance officers, but by the SFOs. Although the idea of including this bolt-on was not in the original application for firearms authorisation, it was a strategy which was endorsed by the on-call Senior Tactical Adviser, MM1.
- Det. Sup. Richardson assumed strategic responsibility for the operation. He was known as the 'Gold' Commander. 'Silver' Commander, the Detective Inspector on whose behalf ZT12 had made the firearms application, had tactical responsibility. He intended to travel in a separate car from the SFOs and the surveillance officers, but remain in their vicinity and keep in close contact with both. The team of SFOs comprised 10 men in four, unmarked, cars. The SFOs were under the immediate control of their team leader, Q9, who, as the operational commander, was also known as 'Bronze'. Q9 additionally acted as the tactical adviser for the operation.
- Q9 gave the SFOs a short briefing at their Leman Street police station headquarters before they left, in the course of which he said he read out at least the part of the firearms authorisation application form which was headed 'Background to the Application'. They were then briefed, in rather more detail by Silver and a Trident Officer, ZT11, at Bexleyheath Police Station. In these briefings, the SFOs were told, erroneously, that in the course of the 2003 offences, Mr Davis had fired at police officers. Although Mr Davis had pointed the pistol at police officers and members of the public and had fired it at the door to the block of flats (reckless as to whether life was endangered), it was wrong to say that he had discharged the gun at the police.
- Mr Davis's movements while driving his Mercedes were watched throughout the day by the surveillance officers in East, North, South East and North London and in Kent. The SFOs were in broadly the same areas, though they mainly waited at various police stations and other areas to see if they were needed.
- The team of SFOs began their tour of duty that day at 7.00am. A normal shift would be between 8 -10 hours. The initial team of surveillance officers was replaced by a fresh team at about 4.00pm. At about 7.00pm Q9 discussed with his Inspector (R19) whether the SFO team should carry on. In Q9's view the day had been long but not particularly strenuous thus far. Mr Davis and his associates were expected to head towards Rugby that evening. Once they left the Metropolitan Police District, responsibility would be handed over to another force. There was, in any case, no other team of SFOs available to relieve them. Q9 advised that his team should carry on and the Inspector approved that course.
- By 10.15pm the Mercedes had met up with another group who were with a Volvo in Wood Green, North London. It seemed that the battery of the Volvo was flat because a pair of jump leads was produced from the Mercedes. With some difficulty the location of the battery for the Volvo was identified and an attempt was made to charge it. This was not sufficient and some men from the Mercedes push started the Volvo. The two cars then drove a short distance, stopped for a brief time and drove on. By this stage, the Mercedes was being driven by Anton Duncan. Mr Davis was in the front passenger seat. Christopher Roberts was on the back seat. Three other men were in the Volvo. These were Duschene Macleod (the driver), Nathaniel Da Souza Roper (front seat passenger) and Andre Clarke (back seat passenger).
- Silver appears to have received intelligence at about 10.20pm that Mr Davis was now believed to be carrying a firearm. In accordance with the strategy that had been agreed at the beginning of the day, this changed the nature of the operation. The police would not wish a gun in the possession of a suspected criminal to be allowed to 'run' for any longer than reasonably necessary. Silver discussed with Q9 whether the suspects should be arrested while they were on foot. Q9 advised against this.
- At 11.01pm the surveillance officers observed that one of the men appeared to be fiddling with something in the waistband of his trousers, as though there was something heavy there. Police experience is that criminals, who carry handguns, do not do so in a holster, but commonly tuck them into the waistband of their trousers. Silver and Q9 thought it had been the Claimant who was seen fiddling with his waistband.
- This was wrong. The surveillance officer (LN140) who witnessed the 'fiddling with the waist band' has confirmed that the person who did this was not the Claimant. To the extent, therefore, that Silver and/or Q9 treated this as confirmation of the earlier intelligence that Mr Davis was now armed, that was a mistake.
- Silver called 'state Amber' at about 11.50 when the two cars, the Mercedes and the Volvo, were again on the move. State Amber meant that the two cars were now to be stopped, not merely observed. Q9 passed this on to his team.
- By midnight, the Mercedes and the Volvo were driving north along Green Lanes and were approaching the junction with the North Circular Road. If the cars were heading to Rugby, they would be likely to turn west on to the North Circular and then drive north on the M1. Q9 was keen that any arrest should take place before the cars joined the North Circular because that, and the M1 to which it led directly, were much faster roads where intervention would be far more difficult. Green Lanes at this point has two lanes in each direction. The Mercedes and the Volvo were in the near side northbound lane and had stopped at red traffic lights immediately behind a BMW being driven by a member of the public.
- The four cars with the SFOs pulled out of a side road and into the off side northbound lane of Green Lanes. They came up alongside the two cars they were following which were thus boxed in. There were railings on the nearside between the road and the pavement.
- Z32 was Q9's deputy. He and possibly Q9 gave the command 'strike, strike, strike' and SFOs jumped out of their vehicles. They were not in uniform but they put on caps that identified them as police officers. They fired 'Hatton' rounds into the front and rear off side tyres of the Mercedes and the front and rear near side tyres of the Volvo. Hatton rounds are intended to deflate a vehicle's tyres, which they did (apart from the nearside rear tyre of the Volvo). At the same time, as Q9 had arranged, two marked police cars turned off the North Circular into the northbound lanes of Green Lanes so as to further block any movement of the cars which were being followed.
- Z32 was armed with an MP5 carbine. Before he left his car he switched off the safety catch. He ran between the Volvo and the Mercedes and came to the near side of the Mercedes. At about this time the Mercedes moved sharply forward and knocked into the BMW immediately ahead of it.
- Z32 was in a semi-crouch position or boxer's stance. In a statement which he made three days later he gave his account of what happened. He said,
'I was shouting armed police. I had my weapon raised as I came round to the nearside I saw a movement in the front passenger seat that I could see was occupied. I was not standing next to the front passenger door but saw more than a left side profile, it was as if the face turned towards me. At the same time I immediately saw a small black object with a square end. I did not see his hands. I focussed on the head and the object. I believed immediately that a gun was pointing at me and I was about to be shot. I feared for my life. I fired one round at the area where I believed the centre of his mass would be. I did not have time to aim, it was instinctive, to protect myself in view of the fact that I believed a gun was pointing at me.'
- The shot passed through the upright of the window frame at the rear of the front passenger window. It entered Mr Davis' back just to the left of his spine and near his left shoulder. The bullet was lodged beneath his arm pit.
- Z32 opened the door. On his evidence, he said 'Where's the gun?' He says that Mr Davis replied 'I haven't got a gun'. He pulled Mr Davis out of the car and, he says, as he did so, some jump leads came out as well. No gun was found in the car.
- Mr Davis' account is different. He says that, as soon as the stop took place, he guessed that this was the police. He and Mr Duncan immediately put their hands in the air. The activity seemed to be concentrated on the off side and that was where he was looking. He never had a gun. He never pointed anything at Z32 which could have been mistaken as a gun. He had his back to the officer and knew nothing of him until he felt an intense pain. He thought he was going to die. He denies that the officer asked him where the gun was. There was no mention of a gun. The jump leads were in their box. They were not loose. They were not in his lap. He had never handled them. Mr Duncan also says that he and Mr Davis had their hands in the air and, while they were in that position, Mr Davis exclaimed that he had been shot.
- At the scene Z32 called for a medic. W18, another of the SFOs, had received enhanced medical training. He provided assistance. He cut away Mr Davis's clothes to examine him. Mr Davis was wrapped in a blanket and, within a short time was taken to hospital. The bullet had shattered several of the Claimant's ribs and damaged his lung. He underwent surgery for the removal of the bullet and for other treatment. On his discharge from hospital, he was recalled to prison to serve the remainder of his 2003 sentence.
- The other five occupants of the Mercedes and the Volvo were originally arrested for conspiracy to rob. No charges for this offence were brought however. Anton Duncan was charged with possession of illegal drugs (small amounts of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy).
- The incident was reported that night to the Independent Police Complaints Commission ('IPCC') by the Metropolitan Police. The IPCC authorised a managed investigation which was conducted by the Metropolitan Police's Department of Professional Standards. This was done under the name 'Operation Easley'. It was managed by a senior investigator from the IPCC. In a report dated 1st July 2009 no criminal or disciplinary proceedings against any officer was recommended. It was proposed that words of advice should be given to intelligence briefing officers to ensure that future briefings were accurate in particular in relation to firearms operations. It was later clarified that this should be by way of management action rather than disciplinary procedure. It was also recommended that CO19 officers should be reminded of the need to comply with the obligation to make an initial written statement when firearms are used. It was also recommended that, in the case of open ended firearms operations, such as this one, a contingency for replacement firearms teams should be put in place at the planning stage to ensure that firearms officers did not work beyond the recommended tour of duty unless there were exceptional circumstances. In a letter dated 24th August 2009 the IPCC indicated that it was satisfied with the report. At the time of the trial, the Operation Easley report had been provided to the Claimant in redacted form. After the hearing, I asked the Defendant's counsel to review the need for the redactions. That was done and a revised copy of the report in a significantly less redacted form was served. I invited the Claimant to indicate whether, in view of this, he wished to make further submissions, but I was told that he did not.
- Mr Davis issued his claim form on 26th January 2010. He claims damages from the Commissioner as vicariously responsible for the torts of his officers. He also seeks declaratory relief. He sues for battery, negligence (relating to the errors in the briefing, the allegedly mistaken attribution of him as the person who had been fiddling with his waistband and so was suspected of having a gun, and the excessive period that the SFOs had continued to be on duty) and for breach of his right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Defendant denies liability under any of these causes of action. He says that Z32 acted in lawful self-defence. He denies that any duty of care in negligence was owed to Mr Davis, but, in any case, whatever mistakes were made in the operation, the police were not negligent in any material way. The Defendant accepts that Article 2 was engaged, even though Mr Davis was not killed, because potentially life threatening force was used. Nonetheless, the Defendant says that there was no breach of that provision since no more force was used which was more than absolutely necessary to prevent a crime. At the beginning of the trial, the parties sensibly agreed that, at this stage, I should just resolve the disputes as to liability.
- In addition to a substantial volume of documentary evidence, I heard oral evidence from the following witnesses:
i) For the Claimant Mr Davis himself and Anton Duncan.
ii) For the Defendant Det. Supt. Richardson (Gold Commander), ZT12 (author of firearms authorisation application), MM1 (on-call senior tactical advisor on 28th January 2009), Q9 (Bronze, operational commander in charge of the team of SFOs), LN140 (one of the surveillance officers), Z32 (the SFO who shot Mr Davis), Q38 (another SFO), W18 (a further SFO who was also the designated medical officer), ZT10 (helped MM1 prepare tactical advice and drove Silver in his vehicle during the day), MM2 (crime scene manager who attended the scene after the shooting), ZT11 (the officer who, with Q9, briefed the SFOs at Bexleyheath Police Station).
The claim in battery: the law
- Z32 shot Mr Davis. There is no dispute that this was a battery. In colloquial terms it might be described an assault, but, strictly, an assault is the apprehension of violence, while battery refers to the blow (or equivalent) itself. Nothing turns on the technical distinction between assault and battery.
- It would be a defence for Z32 to prove that he acted in self-defence. Likewise, the Commissioner will only be vicariously liable for battery, if the act of Z32 was tortious. If Z32 acted in self-defence, neither he nor the Commissioner is liable in battery.
- There are some features of the law of tort which are common to the criminal law (where a defendant will also not be guilty of using violence if he acted in lawful self defence). Thus, in both contexts it is necessary that the person concerned honestly believed that he was in imminent danger of physical violence. In both contexts it is necessary that the act of the defendant was reasonably proportionate to the violence against which he believed he was defending himself. These two matters are relevant in both contexts, but the burden and standard of proof is different. In a criminal court, it is for the prosecution to prove that the force used was unlawful. Once the issue of self defence is properly raised, it is therefore for the prosecution to show that the defendant did not act in self defence. As with all elements of the offence, the prosecution must establish this to the criminal standard i.e. so that the jury (or magistrate) must be sure that the prosecution has proved its case. For the purposes of the law of tort, it is for the defendant to show that the defence of self-defence is made out. This was established in Ashley v Chief Constable of Sussex Police  1 AC 962. The standard of proof is that common in all civil cases, namely the balance of probabilities.
- Another difference between tort and crime is relevant where the defendant is mistaken about the threat which he faced. In the criminal courts, if the defendant did (or may have had) an honest belief that the threat was real (and makes no more than a proportionate response), it is immaterial that the mistake was unreasonable. For the purposes of a civil claim, the position is different. There will only be a defence if the defendant honestly and reasonably believed he was in imminent danger. This, too, was established in Ashley. Initially, the Claimant in the present case pleaded that there could only be a defence to the claim in battery if he had in fact posed a lethal threat to Z32. However, by an amendment to the Particulars of Claim, that line was abandoned.
- So far the propositions which I have set out were uncontentious. However, Ms Williams QC, on behalf of the Claimant, argued that the Chief Constable could not rely on any mistakes which were the product of negligence on the part of any of his officers. For this she relied on some remarks of Lord Neuberger in Ashley.
- Ashley concerned a claim by relatives of a man whose flat had been raided by the police searching for drugs. The raid had taken place in the early hours of the morning. The man was naked and unarmed. He was shot and killed by the police. The claimants (the deceased man's personal representatives) sued in assault, battery, and false imprisonment and also negligence in relation to the planning and execution of the raid. The police admitted liability in negligence and false imprisonment and agreed to pay damages for all the loss caused. However, they defended the assault and battery claims on the grounds that the officer had acted in self defence. The defendant applied for summary judgment and succeeded at first instance. The Court of Appeal reversed that decision and the House of Lords dismissed the Chief Constable's appeal.
- Lord Neuberger agreed with the leading judgment of Lord Scott, but added certain comments of his own. They included the following,
'91. Fourthly, if a reasonably but mistaken belief will do, other questions may need to be considered. One such question is whether, when seeking to justify the reasonableness of his belief, a defendant can rely on factors which were not the Claimant's responsibility. There is obviously a strong argument for saying that a defendant can rely on such factors. Otherwise, one would be getting close to holding that the belief must be correct. Further, it could lead to difficulties if one had to decide whether the claimant was responsible for the defendant's belief, especially if only some of the factors which influenced the defendant could be taken into account. However, it can also be said to be unfair on the claimant if matters for which he had no responsibility can serve to justify the reasonableness of the defendant's mistaken belief. The answer may ultimately depend on whether one judges the issue of reasonableness from the claimant's point of view or from that of the defendant.
92. Subject to that point, I believe it would be inappropriate for your Lordships to cut down the factors which can be taken into account when deciding that issue. When considering the reasonableness of the belief of a defendant in a particular case, it must be for the trial judge to take into account those factors which, provided they are permissible in principle, appear to him relevant, and to give each of them such weight as he thinks appropriate.
93. Arden LJ said below at , that it might be inappropriate to take into account "any mistake that was not one caused by Mr Ashley but by an earlier inaccurate briefing", apparently on the ground that it "did not form part of the immediate events in which Police Constable Sherwood perceived a real and imminent danger". She may well be right that the inaccuracy of any briefing should be irrelevant because, as discussed, it was (presumably) not caused by Mr Ashley. Subject to that, however, at least if the claim were against PC Sherwood, it seems to me that he would, in principle, be entitled to ask the court to take into account what he had been told at the briefing, when considering whether his belief at the time he shot Mr Ashley was reasonable, even if what he was told was negligently relayed to him.
94. However, given that the defendant in these proceedings is the chief constable, I question whether it would be open to him to rely on what his police officers told PC Sherwood about Mr Ashley as justifying PC Sherwood's belief, at least to the extent that they were negligently inaccurate in their briefing. There must be a strong case for saying that it should not be open to the chief constable to rely on his own (if vicarious) negligently inaccurate imparted information to PC Sherwood to justify the reasonableness of a shooting by PC Sherwood for which he was vicariously liable.'
- Based on this, Ms Williams argues that, in deciding whether Z32 reasonably believed he was about to be shot, the Commissioner cannot rely on those matters which Z32 was erroneously and, she would submit, negligently, told by other Metropolitan Police officers. Notably, he cannot rely on Z32's belief that the Claimant was a dangerous man, so far as that was based on the erroneous briefing that the Claimant had shot at police officers in 2003. Likewise, she submits, the Commissioner cannot rely on the false information that it was Z32 who had been seen to be fiddling with his waistband and, for that reason, was believed to be in possession of a gun.
- As can be seen, in paragraphs  and  of his judgment, Lord Neuberger distinguished between the positions of PC Sherwood and the Chief Constable. On the face of it, that is an odd dichotomy. After all, a Chief Constable is liable in respect of any unlawful conduct of his officers – see Police Act 1996 s.88, but if the individual police officer is not a tortfeasor, how can the Chief Constable be responsible for what is, on this basis, lawful conduct? It seems to me that the explanation for Lord Neuberger's comments is to be found in the position adopted by the Chief Constable of Sussex. He had admitted liability in negligence for the planning and execution of the raid. Quite apart from his vicarious liability for PC Sherwood, the Chief Constable would be vicariously liable as well for those officers' negligence.
- It is quite right that Mr Davis also sues in negligence, but, unlike the Chief Constable of Sussex, the Commissioner does not accept that this is a good claim. In the course of her closing submissions, Ms Williams accepted that she could only take advantage of Lord Neuberger's points if I was to find in Mr Davis's favour on the negligence claim. That, it seems to me, was a sensible concession. Otherwise it would be very difficult to see how s.88 of the Police Act could fix the Commissioner with liability.
- For reasons which I explain later, I have decided that Mr Davis's claim in negligence does not succeed. It follows that he cannot draw assistance from this passage in Lord Neuberger's judgment. I need not, therefore, deal with a further argument by Mr Beggs QC for the Defendant, that Lord Neuberger's comments were not part of the ratio in Ashley and should not be followed, or, as HHJ Curran QC said in NTC v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  EWHC 1432 (QB), they were inconsistent with the earlier decision of the House of Lords in Farrell v Secretary of State for Defence  1 WLR 172.
- In the Court of Appeal in Ashley  1 WLR 398 Sir Anthony Clarke MR emphasised that whether a mistake was reasonable was to be judged with all the circumstances of the case in mind – see Ashley in the Court of Appeal at . In my judgment, that must include the time which was available to the officer to make an assessment. When deciding whether the force used is proportionate to the perceived danger, the courts have frequently emphasised the need to be realistic. Such judgments have to be made, not in
'the calm analytical atmosphere of the court room after counsel with the benefit of hindsight have expounded at length the reasons for and against the kind and degree of force that was used by the accused: but in the brief second or two which the accused had to decide whether to shoot or not and under all the stresses to which he was exposed.'
These were the words of Lord Diplock in a criminal case, Attorney-General's Reference (No.1 of 1975)  AC 105, 138, but they were adopted by Elias J. in the civil context in Bici v Ministry of Defence  EWHC 786 (QB) at  and approved by Sir Anthony Clarke in Ashley at . The issue of whether a mistake was reasonable is not an identical question, but it would be anomalous if, in addressing that matter, and with the obligation to take account of all the circumstances, the Court was to ignore the speed with which any assessment had to be made. This would also be in line with the approach which is adopted when a claim for false imprisonment by a police officer is defended on the basis that the officer reasonably suspected the claimant of committing an arrestable offence – see Raissi v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  EWHC] 2842 (QB) at . False imprisonment and battery are, after all, both examples of trespass to the person, as Sir Anthony Clarke again observed in Ashley at . Ms Williams was right to say that they are not to be equated and battery may involve more damaging harm. But they are sufficiently close for the same approach to be taken to the issues of reasonableness of belief (in the case of battery) or suspicion (in the case of arrest).
- In his Defence the Commissioner relied on alternative defences to self defence. He argued that Z32 was entitled by s.3(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1967 to use such force as was reasonable in the circumstances for effecting an arrest. He also relied on Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.117 which allows a police officer to use reasonable force in the exercise of his powers under that Act. However, neither of these provisions is relevant. Z32's evidence was clear. He fired to defend himself. He did not fire in order to arrest Mr Davis. He did not fire in order to exercise any power under the 1984 Act.
- I will turn, therefore, to the two critical factual issues in relation to the claim in battery: namely - (a) Did Z32 honestly believe he was about to be shot? and (b) If he did, was his belief reasonable? Ms Williams accepted that, if I answered these two questions in the Defendant's favour, she did not dispute that the force which Z32 used would be regarded as reasonable in the circumstances. That, too, was a sensible concession. If Z32 honestly and reasonably believed he was about to be shot, his single shot at Mr Davis could not possibly be said to be a disproportionate response. As I have said, the law of tort, just like the criminal law, recognises that someone faced with imminent and lethal peril cannot be expected to fine tune their reaction with absolute precision.
The claim in battery: Did Z32 honestly believe he was about to be shot when he fired?
- There is a stark difference between the evidence of the Claimant and of Z32. I shall consider their evidence in due course, but it is convenient to look first at other evidence which is relevant to this question and which I take into account when assessing their testimony. Some of these are matters which the Claimant has raised as to why Z32 should not be believed. The Claimant is entitled to advance such arguments, but, in doing so, I have always borne in mind that it is the Defendant who has the burden of showing (to the civil standard) that Z32 did honestly believe that he was in imminent lethal peril. That will, of course, also be the case when I come to consider whether any such belief was reasonable.
Did the lighting conditions preclude Z32 seeing what he says he saw?
- These events took place in January just after midnight. There was no light on inside the Mercedes. There was some ambient light from street lights on this busy road, but the lighting conditions were far from ideal. In such circumstances there is more scope for mistakes to be made. Ms. Williams, though, went further and suggested it would have been impossible for Z32 to see anything inside the car. She relied, in particular, on the evidence of Q38. He, too, had come to the nearside of the Mercedes when the SFOs left their vehicles. He was just behind Z32. He said that he could see nothing in the Mercedes and, for that reason, he smashed the nearside rear passenger window.
- In his written statements, Q38 attributed the problem with visibility to a combination of tinting of the car windows and glare from the street lights. Q38 was mistaken about the car windows being tinted. As can be seen from photographs which were taken after the incident, they are clear glass.
- The effect of glare or difficulty caused by reflected light may vary with the height of the observer. Q38 is a tall man: 6 feet 5 inches. Z32 is 5 feet 9 ½ inches. That means Q38 was 7 ½ inches taller than Z32. Z32 said that his height was reduced further because he was in a semi-crouching position. The CCTV is of poor quality, but the figure whom Ms Williams identified as Z32 does indeed seem to adopt the posture which Z32 describes.
- My conclusion is that, while the light available to Z32 was poor, Q38's inability to see anything at all inside the Mercedes does not mean that Z32 likewise could see nothing inside the car.
Did Z32 give a different account at the scene - an account of Mr Davis leaning forward into the footwell?
- At three places in the documents, there is reference to a different account of what had happened immediately before Z32 fired. Each speaks of Z32 seeing Mr Davis reaching into the footwell of the Mercedes just before the shot was fired. Ms Williams makes the positive case that these accounts were the earliest that night and are likely to be the more accurate. She makes the negative point that none of them refer to the explanation which Z32 now gives for firing; none of them refer to what he now says was his belief that Mr Davis was pointing an object at him that looked like a gun. Q9's log does include a succinct account consistent with Z32's present evidence, but, Ms Williams submits, I should find that this was not written at the scene, but sometime later when Z32 and Q9 realised that the 'reaching into the footwell' scenario would be inadequate to justify the use of potentially lethal force.
- The three documents giving the 'reaching into the footwell' account were as follows:
i) An entry in the log book compiled by the Crime Scene Manager, MM2. At the beginning of a long entry timed at 0120 on 29th January 2009, she wrote,
'Circumstances (from ZT10)…Following intel regarding planned robbery and presence of firearm in susp possession, decision made to carry out a 'hard stop' at location. CO19 officer fired 'Hatton rounds' into vehicle tyres. Davis was front passenger in lead susp m/v. He leant into footwell and CO19 officer fired one round (MP5) into vehicle. Davis was shot once in R. Shoulder [redaction] 'Silver' made decision.
Spoke to CO19 team leader – call sign 'Q9' [redaction]. Discussed the circumstances of the 'stop' and shots fired. 2 marked vehicles turned into traffic at the junction stopping and [member of the public] m/v and then other CO19 m/vs x  stopped alongside susp m/v x2. Armed officers out of m/vs and surrounded susp m/v. Hatton rounds fired into tyres of each m/v. As officers approached [front near side] of susp (1) m/v, occupant seen to lean into footwell. Officer fired 1 shot (MP5) through door. Struck susp in R shoulder.'
ii) Silver completed a Form 3605 'Metropolitan Police Service Armed Operation Record Decision Log and Log of Events' Part B is headed 'Post Incident Procedure in the Event of Police Discharging Firearms' The first section has a box which Silver has ticked. The printed instruction reads,
'Establish the basic facts of what has taken place to confirm the conclusion of the firearms operation and enable management of the scene. The facts provided should be restricted to a brief outline of what people did, what people heard, what people saw and where they were standing when the shots were fired.'
In this box Silver has written,
'Two vehicles stopped by CO 19 officers. Lead vehicle, Mercedes LR58WDX, contained Jason Davis front seat passenger who was shot in right shoulder when [?] appeared he was reaching into footwell.'
iii) A log was compiled by the Detective Chief Inspector and the Detective Inspector who conducted the Operation Easley investigation. They spoke to Chief Inspector Rod Charles who had been appointed the Post Incident Manager, known as PIM1. In an entry timed at 0320, the investigators wrote –
'C/I Charles – 1st account…
Hatton rounds used on both cars. As SFO front [?] near side of vehicle see front near side passenger reach forward to footwell. Fire one round through skin of car to R/shoulder.'
- Q9's log entry reads,
'1st Account at scene Principle [sic] approaches from rear Suspect looks at principle who see's a gun black square end of weapon. 1 shot to door of car into suspect's back.
H/over to PIM2 [a second Post-Incident Manager] Officer approach subject as a result of subject's actions fires one shot.'
This entry is not timed. It follows several blank pages in the log book. Before that, the last written entries record that at 0135 the scene was handed over to Superintendant Tarrant from CO19 (who was PIM2) and at 0200 Q9 arrived at Leman Street. In the page following the entry in Q9's log which I have quoted above it is noted 'Principle away 0025 hrs.' There is then a note as to what appears to be the locations of the four SFO vehicles before they drew out into Green Lanes. The page opposite to this has a sketch plan of the scene after the stop which Q9 said he also drew at the scene.
- Z32 himself gave a very brief statement on 29th January 2009, although it says he discharged his firearm. It says nothing about the circumstances in which this took place. In his evidence he said the brevity was in accordance with legal advice which he received from the Police Federation on his return to the Leman Street station.
- In his statement made for Operation Easley on 31st January 2009, Q9 gave an account of what he had been told by Z32. This was broadly in accordance with his log. (The statement included a marginally more detailed set of comments to Z32 as his explanation for firing, but the essence was the same. I reject Ms Williams's argument that it constituted deliberate embellishment by Q9). In his statement for the present proceedings, which was made on 16th December 2013, Q9 maintained that the account which he had been given by Z32 was the one in his log. He agreed that he spoke to MM2 at the scene, but denied that he would have spoken to her about Z32's account. He did not say to her that Z32 had told him that Mr Davis had reached into the footwell. He would have spoken to Silver when they met at the scene, but leaning into the footwell had not come up.
- In his evidence, Q9 confirmed that he had not personally seen Z32 fire. He stood by the account which he gave in his log as to what he had been told by Z32 at the scene. He denied that it had been made up afterwards. He denied that this was why that entry was untimed. He agreed he had spoken to Silver once Silver arrived at the scene, but he had not said to him anything about Mr Davis having reached into the footwell. Silver could not have got that information from him. Q9 said that on his return to Leman Street at 2.00am, Chief Inspector Charles had been waiting for him. Very shortly after that he had given an account of the operation. There is a typed note by Chief Inspector Charles which is dated 29th January 2009 (although it is not timed). It includes the following,
'SFOs approached the stopped vehicles on foot, on the approach along the nearside of the vehicle the front seat passenger was seen with a black object, the officer believed was a firearm. At that time one officer fired one shot from an MP5. The round penetrated the vehicle panels and is believed to have struck the front seat passenger in the area of the left shoulder blade. At this time the injury whilst serious is not believed to be life threatening.'
- Q9 agreed that this was the account which he gave to Chief Inspector Charles.
- In her witness statement dated 16th December 2013 for the present proceedings, MM2 said,
'My log reflects that both ZT10 and Q9 informed that Curtis Davis leant into the footwell; however my recollection nearly five years later, is that ZT10 made this comment. I may have mistakenly attributed this comment to both officers.'
- In her evidence she said that she could definitely remember ZT10 giving an account of the circumstances to her. There was the smallest element of doubt as to whether Q9 had done so, but she was almost certain that Q9 had said the same as ZT10. She said that her log had been written up between ½ hour and an hour after the events she was describing.
- In his witness statement and evidence ZT10 said he had no recollection of talking to MM2 at the scene. He could say definitely that he had not spoken to Z32.
- Neither Silver nor Chief Inspector Charles provided witness statements. They were not called to give evidence. Similarly, there were no statements and there was no evidence from either of the Operation Easley investigating officers.
- I conclude that Z32 did not give an inconsistent account of what preceded his decision to fire. My reasons are as follows:
i) None of the 'leaning into the footwell' accounts purport to come from Z32 directly. They are all one or more stages removed. Of course, that does not mean they are inadmissible, but it is a factor to be considered in assessing the weight to be given to them.
ii) The source closest to Z32 was Q9. I had the opportunity to see him give evidence over parts of three days. He was subjected to searching and proper cross examination by Ms Williams. In my view he was an impressive and honest witness. He had been a police officer for 24 years at the time of these events. He was then a Detective Sergeant. He is now a Detective Chief Inspector. He has had no disciplinary convictions. He has received nine commendations or awards. I understand the point which Ms Williams makes that there can be pressures on police officers to close ranks and support a colleague who may otherwise face disciplinary or even criminal proceedings. Those pressures may be greater when the officers are part of a specialist firearms group who have to face dangers of a particularly serious kind and who rely, in those situations, on instant support from their colleagues. One of the striking parts of the evidence in this case is how rare it is for armed police actually to fire their weapons. Z32 had never done so before although he had taken part in dozens of such 'hard stops'. Q9 had been a Detective Sergeant for 4 years and in that time no member of his team had previously fired a shot. But, although those pressures exist, it is fallacious to assume that a particular officer has succumbed to them. My view is that Q9 had not done so.
iii) The place in his log where Q9 records what Z32 said to him is out of sequence. Ms. Williams is entitled to observe that on an earlier page in his log he has recorded subsequent events including his return to Leman Street at 2.00am on 29th January. However, this has less force since his record of Z32's account is followed by other observations at the scene: the note as to the handover to Superintendant Tarrant; Z32's departure from the scene at 00.25; and the sketch of the cars which I accept was drawn by Q9 while he was still at the scene.
iv) The record of Chief Inspector Charles supports the account which Q9 says he gave. It is not timed, but I accept Q9's evidence that he gave this account very shortly after his return to Leman Street. Had Q9 previously given a different account of what had led up to Z32 firing his shot, Chief Inspector Charles would be likely to have challenged him and/or made some reference to this in his note. That is even more likely if Chief Inspector Charles had, in the meantime, relayed the different account to the Operation Easley officers.
v) MM2's log was written, as she said, about ½ hour – 1 hour after the events which she was recording. Her rough notes, which were actually made at the scene, do not mention the 'leaning into the footwell' account. They do record that she spoke to Q9. He agrees that there was some conversation with her, as one would expect, but I accept his evidence that their conversation did not include anything about what Z32 had said to him. MM2 accepted that she might have been wrong to say in her log that he had.
vi) MM2's rough notes time her conversation with Q9 at 0205. Q9's log said that he had arrived back at Leman Street by 2.00am and must, therefore, have left the scene some considerable time before. In his Operation Easley statement, Q9 says that he left the scene at 0135. All this suggests that, either MM2's rough notes are inaccurate as to the time or, possibly that the conversation which she has noted as having taken place at that time was with someone else. Neither possibility was put to her when she gave evidence and so, I recognise that I should be cautious about drawing either conclusion. Nonetheless, it provides some support for the point made by Mr Beggs that even a careful and professional officer can make mistakes on occasions.
vii) Silver's note on Form 3605 is very brief. He himself was not at the scene until after the shot had been fired. Although I accept that he has ticked the box which indicated he had talked to Bronze (i.e. Q9), I was not able to find out where this particular piece of information had come from since Silver did not give evidence.
viii) The same can be said for the Operation Easley investigating officers. There is a further curiosity in that the front cover of their log says that the date and time when the log commenced was 10.54 on 30th January 2009 which would mean that the notes of what purports to be a meeting with Chief Inspector Charles were written up at least a day after the event. There may be an explanation for this oddity but, without evidence it is presently unexplained.
ix) Mr Beggs was also entitled to note that the accounts apparently given to MM2 by ZT10 and Q9 wrongly said that the bullet had entered Mr Davis' right shoulder. It was in fact his left shoulder. Elsewhere in his form 3605, Silver, likewise, said that Mr Davis had been shot in the right shoulder. The same error was made in the Operation Easley investigating officers' log. So all three had the same mistake. Since the source of none of the 'leaning into footwell accounts' is entirely clear, it cannot be said whether they are independent of each other or whether this is an example of some form of Chinese whispers.
x) In order to do justice to the case, it is necessary to examine the separate strands of evidence with care. I recognise though, that, to some extent they overlap. It is sufficient to say at this stage that there is nothing in the other parts of the evidence which cause me to reach a different conclusion on this particular feature.
The expert forensic evidence
- I have been shown a Joint Report by the forensic experts for the Claimant (Dr. P.J. Seaman) and for the Defendant (Mr A. De V. Horne) dated 22nd June 2015. The two experts were asked,
'In light of the bullet damage and site of the injury to Curtis Davis, what was the position of the Claimant in the nearside front seat of the Mercedes vehicle when the shot was fired, in which direction was he facing, and how upright was his torso at the time?'
- They responded,
'Based on the reconstruction events by both experts and in particular those involving the Claimant in Dr Seaman's reconstruction, Mr Horne and I agree, that the Claimant would have been positioned, highly contorted, inclined to the right (offside of the vehicle) highly twisted leaning forward such that his back would have to be facing the front nearside door. Furthermore, in this position, it seems unlikely that the Claimant would have been able to rotate his head, such that anyone looking into the vehicle would have had a 'face on' view of the Claimant at the time the shot was fired. We therefore agree that, at the time the shot was discharged, the Claimant's back would have to be facing the Officer, allowing the bullet to pass through the door (as depicted in the photographs) and follow the line of trajectory as indicated in medical records. We can exclude the Claimant from having been seated upright in the passenger seat (facing towards the front of the vehicle) or leaning merely forward in the seat at the time the shot was discharged.'
- Ms Williams argues strongly that this evidence is inconsistent with Z32's account. The experts say that 'when the shot was fired' the Claimant's back was facing the nearside door and, hence Z32. With his back in that position, he could not have been facing Z32 as the officer described and could not have been pointing a small black object in Z32's direction.
- While I agree that this evidence is supportive of the Claimant's case, it is not in my judgment conclusive in his favour. My reasons are as follows:
i) Neither expert had available to him the actual car in which Mr Davis had been travelling. Dr Seaman reconstructed the incident as best as he could with a surrogate Mercedes in October 2014. Mr Horne did a similar exercise with another Mercedes in March 2015. The fact that these experiments were conducted some 5 and 6 years after the event does not seem to have impacted on their value. However, what was more difficult was that the information available to them was imprecise and, to some extent at least, had to be inferred from photographs taken at the time. As Dr Seaman said in his report of 2nd December 2014,
'The exact vehicle was not available for examination. Neither were there any forensic reports relating to the examination of the gunshot damage to the vehicle, hampering accurate reconstruction. The absence of such a forensic report on the damaged area prevents any meaningful assessment or interpretation as to the nature of the shot, its range or any surface effects. Such examinations would normally be expected in a case of this type.
Based on the poor quality photographs of the damage to the front nearside door of the Mercedes, calculation and adjustment measurements were made using fixed points to evaluate where the entry and exit damage was positioned.
The exit damage position was estimated in the surrogate vehicle using the police photo image which shows the damage location in relation to the frame.'
In the section of his report headed 'Interpretation' Dr Seaman said,
'In my opinion, the failure to forensically examine the Mercedes vehicle with regard to assessing the ballistic damage is a significant factor in evaluating the circumstances of this incident.'
ii) A further difficulty in extrapolating from the reconstructions is knowing what allowance to make for the possibility that the bullet was deflected from a straight line trajectory. Dr Seaman refers to the possibility of deflection as the bullet passed through the frame of the car. Mr Horne refers to the possibility that it was deflected by his bones once it had entered Mr Davis's body.
iii) Everything at this stage was happening very fast. While the experts say that it was 'unlikely' that the Claimant would have had time to rotate his head after looking at Z32 and before the shot was fired, they do not rule out the possibility entirely. Since such a movement may be made in a fraction of a second, that seems sensible.
The reasonableness of a belief that Mr Davis was pointing a gun at him
- This is, of course, the second question which I will have to address if I decide that Z32 did honestly believe that he was in imminent lethal peril. Honest belief is a question as to Z32's subjective state of mind. Whether any such belief was reasonable requires an objective assessment. The two are not to be equated. Nonetheless, if there was good reason why Z32 might have this fear, that is a matter which may be relevant in deciding whether he did in fact have such a fear, as Sir Anthony Clarke MR commented in the Court of Appeal in Ashley – see  1 WLR 398 at . The converse would also be true. If there was not good reason to believe that Mr Davis was pointing a gun at him, that would tend to show (although not, of course, conclusively) that Z32 did not in fact have such a fear.
- It is convenient for me to postpone detailed consideration until later in this judgment. It is enough to say that my conclusion is that there was good reason for Z32 to believe that Mr Davis was pointing a gun at him. That is some support for Z32's evidence that he did have such a fear. Although, once again, I emphasise that this support can only be limited.
The evidence as to the jump leads in the car
- The jump leads are important to the Defence. It is the Defendant's case that the small square black object which Z32 said he saw was probably the end of one of the jump lead handles. I have been shown photographs of these end on compared with a pistol viewed from the end of the barrel. I agree that they are similar and, particularly in poor light conditions, the jump lead handle, seen from that perspective, could be mistaken for a pistol.
- The jump leads were new. The Claimant and Mr Duncan said that they had been purchased from a garage near to Mr Duncan's home in Hornsey that same evening. The surveillance team did indeed see the Mercedes at a Shell garage station on Park Road, Hornsey and saw Mr Davis go to the garage shop. It may not matter whether it was Mr Davis or (as the two of them say) Mr Duncan who actually purchased the jump leads. After the incident an empty box was found next to the Mercedes marked, as the Exhibits Officer Gary Lee said in a statement for Operation Easley, 'Heavy Duty Booster Cables'. It seems to me to be a plain inference that this was the box in which the jump leads had come.
- These leads were used as part of the efforts to try and revive the battery of the Volvo. Those efforts started, according to the surveillance, at about 10.40pm. They were not finally successful until about 11.50pm. The Claimant's evidence was that he remained in the Mercedes during this time. Mr Duncan said in his witness statement that, after jump starting the Volvo, he put the leads back in the box and put them in the Mercedes at Curtis Davis's feet. In an interview with the police on 14th April 2009 Mr Duncan had said that after giving the jump start,
'we threw [the jump lead] back in the box and just flung them in the front of the car … the jump leads were on the passenger side in the front just on the floor.'
- I do not accept Mr Duncan's evidence that he put the jump leads back in their box. The efforts to start the Volvo had taken over an hour. Whether the Claimant was intending to travel to Rugby (as the police intelligence had said) or whether he was planning to visit his cousin in Edmonton (as he said), this interruption and delay must have been frustrating for him and Mr Duncan. The jump leads were bulky, especially since they were 'heavy duty' and as the photographs of them at the scene also show. I do not believe that Mr Duncan in the circumstances would have taken the time and trouble to pack them back into their box. I do agree, though, that they were put into the footwell of the front seat passenger. They were, therefore close to Mr Davis when, 15 minutes later, the stop took place. Furthermore, when that stop did take place and after Mr Davis had been pulled from the car, the jump leads can be seen in photographs to be separate from the box.
- Z32 says that when, after his shot, he opened the car door Mr Davis had the jump leads on his lap. And when he pulled Mr Davis out of the car and into the road, the jump leads came as well. W18, the SFO with some medical experience, came to assist Mr Davis. In his statement for Operation Easley dated 31st January 2009, W18 said that he noticed some jump leads around the man's legs. The jump leads seemed out of place. When cross examined, he denied that he had embellished his statement in this respect.
- Ms Williams is entitled to comment that M1 and M2, two of the officers from the marked police vehicles which had been summoned by Q9 to further block in the suspect vehicles, had not said anything in their statements about jump leads being around Mr Davis's legs. The point has more force with M2 who helped W18 to provide medical help by cutting away the clothing on the lower part of Mr Davis's body.
- Nonetheless, there was not the opportunity to hear from either of these officers and to discover what, if anything, they noticed about the jump leads. The Claimant's case has to be that W18 was giving dishonest evidence. He had been a police officer for 20 years at the time of this incident and during his police service has received 10 awards or commendations. Having heard his evidence, I consider that he was an honest witness who was not lying or embellishing it.
- Accordingly, I find that Mr Duncan did not put the jump leads back into their box after they had been used to start the Volvo. He placed them loose in the footwell of the front passenger seat. I also find that they were tangled around the legs of Mr Davis when Z32 pulled him out of the car.
The competing accounts by the Claimant and Z32
- It is self-evident that both the Claimant and Z32 have their own interests in seeking to persuade me that their account is more likely to be true. The Claimant is seeking to recover damages. Besides he has a grievance that he was shot, though uanarmed. It was also apparent that he has no love for the police. If Z32 was found to have fired without a genuine belief that he was in immediate peril he could, potentially, face prosecution, disciplinary proceedings and/or removal from firearms duties.
- Ms Williams argues that it would be a stupid thing for a person to point anything at an armed police officer. It would, indeed. But it is not necessary for the Defendant to show that Mr Davis behaved deliberately. If the jump leads were out of their box and in his lap, he may simply have had them in his hands at the time he turned round and to look at what was going on at the nearside of the Mercedes. Alternatively, he may have behaved foolishly. As he accepted in evidence, he had been smoking weed that day. His evidence was that he was a regular smoker of cannabis, but even so, his perception and judgment may have been affected.
- In his witness statement dated 23rd December 2013 he said,
'I could see shadows of men to the offside near Anton's door and could hear what sounded to me like the car door handle being pulled. I looked around to the left nearside of the car but could not see anybody at all. I looked back at Chris [Chris Roberts the back seat passenger] and noticed the officer near Chris looking at me and then moving around to the back of the car. I could see a gun pointing at Anton through his window. I looked round again expecting officers to come to the nearside.'
In this account, as my emphasised passages show, the Claimant is saying that he looked twice to the nearside.
- This was the first account which the Claimant had given. He had not been interviewed by the police after the stop (it will be recalled that he was first in hospital and was then recalled to prison). He chose not to assist the Operation Easley investigation. I agree with Mr Beggs that this account is likely to have been carefully considered. In his evidence he said that he had looked only once to the near side. The witness statement, although made nearly 5 years after the event, is more likely to have been accurate than the revision in his evidence given nearly 7 years after it. But whether it was once or twice, it shows that the Claimant had some interest in what was happening on the near side of the car and looked in that direction, even though the principal activity was happening on the other side. In my view, it is more likely than not that the Claimant did look twice to the nearside of the Mercedes and that was the direction from which Z32 was coming.
- A further factor in favour of the honesty of Z32's account is that there could have been no good reason for him to fire unless he feared for his life. This was not a trigger happy officer. He had taken part in a very large number of armed operations, but this was the first time that he had fired a weapon. Given the degree of training which specialist firearms officers undergo and their repeated refresher training and accreditation, an accidental discharge seems a very unlikely possibility and I reject it.
- The Mercedes had also moved forward sharply very shortly before the discharge took place. Z32 accepted that he was concerned that the car was trying to escape. Any such attempt would have been manifestly hopeless given that the four SFO cars were in the offside lane and the two marked police cars were immediately ahead in the two lanes. In addition, firing into the passenger's side door would have done nothing to frustrate any such effort by the driver. Neither accidental discharge nor firing to prevent escape would have been consistent with the rigorous training which specialist firearms officers receive. Ms Williams put to him that firing through the door frame of a car was less than optimal given the possibility of deflection. Z32 agreed, but said that he thought he was going to be shot. He had to act instinctively. The shot was unaimed and the best he could do was to try to hit the centre of Mr Davis's body mass.
- Z32 agreed that he knew the Claimant was in the front passenger seat of the Mercedes. Ms Williams put to him that it was for this reason that he headed for the near side of the Mercedes when he jumped out of his car. Z32 said that was not the case. This was simply an area (or arc) which needed to be covered and he was available to cover it. I accept his evidence.
- Ms Williams argued that Z32's judgment was affected by the length of time he had been on duty. It had been a long shift. It had started at 7.00am and he had been awake since 5.30am. However, while an unusually long time to be on duty, it had not, he said, been an outrageously long time. Until it looked as though an armed intervention would be necessary (which had not been until about two hours before the stop took place), their role had been a contingent one. Mostly they had been at one fixed location or another. They had had a fair amount of down time. They had been at Wood Green Police Station at 18.30 and had the opportunity then (as well as at earlier times in the day) to refresh. In the course of his evidence Z32 said that he had actually been able to sleep for part of the time. I do not think that he is more likely to be right about this than not. He did not mention this in his witness statement for the present proceedings (even though, by then, he would have known that part of the Claimant's case was that he was suffering from fatigue). I mention this, but it did not affect my overall view of Z32's credibility or my view as to whether he was likely to have been suffering because of the length of time he had been on duty. In addition, Z32, like the other SFOs was physically fit. He had also been an SFO since 2001 and, since 2005, had been an occasional firearms instructor. He was, therefore, a very experienced firearms officer. Q9 had expressly considered the fitness of the team to continue with their operation at 7.00pm. He had decided that they were able to carry on.
- I do not agree that the fact that Z32 gave the 'Strike' command showed that he was wound up. He was Q9's deputy. They had agreed that the stop should take place before the Mercedes and the Volvo joined the North Circular. This junction was the last opportunity. I accept Q9's evidence that he considered it compatible with Z32's role for him to give the command. On the CCTV it looks as though Z32 kicks the front passenger door of the Mercedes. Z32 had no recollection of doing this, but accepted that it looked as though he had done so. He said that, if this had been the case, it would have been to further stun the occupants of the car. I do not find this action to be evidence of an officer whose judgment had been clouded by the effects of fatigue. Overall, I do not find that the period of time which Z32 had been on duty makes it more likely that he discharged his gun through accident or to prevent the Mercedes escaping. I reject both of those explanations for why he fired.
- Ms Williams submitted that the failure of Z32 to give more than his very brief statement on 29th January 2009 was contrary to the then current ACPO Manual of Guidance Police Use of Firearms Post-Incident Procedure. She took me to paragraphs 4.1 and 4.2 which say,
'4.1Where an initial account is made by officers they should, subject to any legal advice that they are given, be made as soon as practicable. These accounts should be recorded in writing, timed, dated and signed.
4.2 Each officer's initial account should only consist of their individual recollection of events and should, among other things, address the question of what they believed to be the facts and why, if relevant, they considered that the use of force and discharge of any firearms was absolutely necessary.'
But, as paragraph 4.1 says, the obligation is subject to any legal advice which the officer is given. Z32 gave evidence that, on his return to Leman Street, he was given legal advice not to say more than he did at that stage. He did provide a detailed account on 1st February 2009.
- Mr Davis says that he had his arms in the air, as had Mr Duncan. Mr Duncan agrees that he and Mr Davis both had their arms raised. Mr Beggs comments that Z32 in his statement and evidence did not say that he could see Mr Davis's hands and his view into the car was limited. While that is right, it is difficult to see how ends of the jump lead could have been mistaken for a gun if they were merely lying in Mr Davis's lap or on his legs. If Mr Davis did have his hands in the air at the time, that is the most they could have been.
- I have at this point to consider the credibility of Mr Davis's evidence (especially where it is unsupported by reliable corroboration). He has significant previous convictions. Apart from those in 2003 which I have already mentioned, he was convicted in May 1996 of intending to pervert the course of justice. That was a long time ago and the Claimant was then only 16 ½, but, in the present context, it is of continuing importance and it is not as though the Claimant since his mid-teens has forsaken youthful indiscretions. In February 2002 he was convicted of three counts of handling stolen goods which were, of course, offences of dishonesty. In September 2010 he absconded from prison and was later sentenced to 4 months further imprisonment for escape. It is not necessary for me to reach a conclusion as to why he did so, the fact of the escape is sufficient for present purposes. I agree with Ms Williams that I should be circumspect for these purposes (that is deciding on the Claimant's credibility) in taking into account intelligence as to other criminal activities in which the police believe the Claimant has been involved. When matters are not admitted or the subject of convictions there would have to be very good reasons for the Court to run the risk of being distracted by trying to resolve such satellite matters. Similarly, while there was a good deal to raise suspicion as to the purpose of the Claimant's last journey on 28th/29th January 2009, it is not necessary for me to make any conclusive findings as to whether he was in fact on the way to commit a robbery in Rugby.
- His previous convictions alone are a gloomy start to an assessment of his credibility, but they are not alone. Mr Davis agreed that it was a regular feature of his encounters with the police for him to give a false name and a false date of birth. The printout of his Police National Computer Record lists no less than 17 aliases and 7 different birth dates. Nor, I am afraid, did I find him to be candid in other areas of his evidence. He said that Mr Robinson continued to be a very good friend of his and had visited him regularly when he had been imprisoned. It was Mr Robinson passing him the pistol which had led to the chain of events that caused him to be in prison. Yet, he said, he had never asked Mr Robinson why he had had a gun that day. I agree with Mr Beggs that there are only two possibilities. One is that he already knew Mr Robinson was involved in gun crime. The other is that he was not telling the truth and he did ask Mr Robinson this obvious question. Yet the Claimant denied that either was right. I did not believe him. He said in his evidence that when he had taken the pistol from Mr Robinson he did not know that it was loaded and, when he pointed the gun at the door of his girl friend's block of flats and pulled the trigger, it was a surprise to him that the gun discharged. I did not believe him. During the course of his travels on 28th January 2009, he visited an address in Roman Road E3. He was asked who he was going to visit there. He said he could not remember. Yet he then agreed that Mr Robinson's mother was one of the people that he knew who lived there and that day he picked up Mr Robinson from Roman Road to take him to visit Mr Robinson's brother who was in HMP Sheerness. I find the Claimant was not telling the truth when he first said he did not remember whom he had visited in Roman Road.
- All of this together (as well as the other evidence which I am reviewing and my overall impression of the way in which the Claimant gave his evidence) means that I cannot accept his evidence unless there is support for it from a reliable source.
- I do not regard Mr Duncan as a reliable corroborative source. He, too, has previous convictions (although it is fair to say that they were mainly to do with cannabis). Mr Duncan had (with the Claimant) gone to considerable trouble first to try to find someone else with jump leads, then to buy jump leads himself and then to try and start the car. Yet he said he did not find out whose car it was that they were going to so much trouble to start and did not know that the car had in fact been stolen. In my view one or other of those responses was incorrect. A little later he was asked about a passage in his witness statement in which he had referred to 'Andre's Volvo'. He said he used this phrase (referring to Andre Clarke) because it had been Andre who had asked for help to start the Volvo. Yet he said that he was unsurprised when he got to the Volvo and it was not Andre who was with the car but other people. I formed the clear impression that Mr Duncan was not being forthright in this evidence. I have also explained previously why I did not accept his evidence that he put the jump leads back in their box after they had been used.
- In considering the reliability of Mr Duncan's recall of the events that night, it is also material to remember that when he was interviewed by the police in April 2009, he was asked to give a rough estimate of the time at which the cars had been stopped. He said,
'It's evening, don't know, could be anything between, anything between 8 to 12 I suppose, I'm not hundred per cent sure, but I know it was evening time, it was darkish, it was nightish, but not night, night. Getting towards night.'
This answer showed a striking degree of vagueness, even allowing for the common difficulty of estimating times precisely.
- In assessing the accuracy of the accounts given by the Claimant and Mr Duncan, it is also of some relevance that they both agreed that they had been smoking cannabis throughout that evening. In the Claimant's case, he also suffered a traumatic and painful injury.
- Z32 joined the police in 1996 and became an authorised firearms officer the same year. He has no disciplinary convictions. He has had 8 commendations and awards, including a number for bravery and professionalism in tackling armed suspects.
- Before he made his statement on 1st February 2009, Z32 had attended a meeting with the other police officers who had been involved. This took place on 31st January 2009. Its purpose was to go through the time line of events up to (but not including) the firing of the shot by Z32. Chief Inspector Charles (PIM1) was present. The IPCC was also invited to send a representative but declined. Q9 presented a series of notes on flip charts (copies of which are in the papers before the Court) and led the discussion. Although no note was kept of the discussion, none of the officers who were present and whose statements I have seen suggest that this did touch on the immediate events before Z32 discharged his weapon. I find that this meeting made no difference to the account which Z32 has given about those events just before the shot was fired.
- In deciding whether Z32 honestly believed that he was about to be shot, it is relevant to take into account what he understood about Mr Davis's character. Put shortly, he believed that Mr Davis was a very dangerous individual. In view of the briefings which he had received earlier that morning, that is hardly surprising. He had been told in those briefings that Mr Davis had shot at police in 2003, had been released on licence only 6 months before the events with which Z32 was concerned, and the police had received intelligence that he had made efforts to acquire a gun or guns in October 2008. The reason that the present operation was taking place was because of further intelligence that Mr Davis was assembling a team to commit a robbery imminently.
- Ms Williams indeed adopts and relies on the honesty of Z32's belief that Mr Davis was dangerous. It is part of her case that Z32 had been given an exaggerated picture of the circumstances of the 2003 offences, but she does not dispute that Z32 thought Mr Davis was a very dangerous person. I will need to come back to the question of whether the erroneous information about the 2003 offences which Z32 was given was of significance.
- It is also relevant to the honesty of Z32's belief that he had been told shortly before the stop that Mr Davis was in possession of a gun. He also knew that it was Mr Davis who was the front seat passenger in the Mercedes. He said that was where Mr Davis had been travelling throughout the day. He was partially wrong about that. For much of the day, Mr Davis had been the driver of the Mercedes, but it is right that, since Mr Duncan had been collected at about 6.00pm, he had taken over driving the Mercedes and Mr Davis had thereafter become the front seat passenger.
- Once again, Ms Williams does not dispute that Z32 believed Mr Davis was in possession of a gun. She says that belief was based on the erroneous attribution of an observation of another of the suspects. I will need to consider that proposition later. It is sufficient to record for present purposes (i.e. whether or not Z32 honestly thought he was in imminent peril) that I agree that Z32 did believe that Mr Davis was in possession of a gun. Ms Williams put to Z32 that this information, in combination with what the SFOs had been told about Mr. Davis's past history, would have had a profound influence on his state of mind. Z32 agreed. He said he now regarded 'this guy as very, very dangerous'.
- Ms Williams put to Z32 that if he really had thought that Mr Davis had had a gun, he would not have leaned into the car to pull him out. I found Z32's response convincing. He still had his carbine trained on Mr Davis. It was on a sling, tucked under his shoulder and he could in this position operate it with one hand. Besides he could see the Claimant's hands and there was no gun in them.
- I accept as well that Z32 asked the Claimant 'Where's the gun' and that the Claimant replied that he did not have one. I accept that Z32 shortly afterwards had a conversation with Q9. Z32 made no note of it and had not seen Q9's log before he gave evidence. He agreed that it pretty much reflected what had passed between them. I accept as well that Z32 never said to anyone that the Claimant had been leaning into the footwell before the shot was fired.
- For all of these reasons, I find that the Defendant has discharged the burden which is on him of showing that Z32 honestly believed that he was about to be shot by Mr. Davis. At the morning briefing at Bexleyheath, Z32 and the other members of the CO19 team had been reminded that they could only open fire 'when absolutely necessary'. In my judgment that is what Z32 thought was the position when he discharged his weapon.
The claim in battery: Was Z32's belief a reasonable one?
- I have found that Mr Davis was holding the jump leads and, whether being deliberately pointed or not, the end of one of them was in the direction of Z32. The photographs of the end of a jump lead end and the muzzle of a pistol look sufficiently similar that in the poor lighting conditions which prevailed, the first could reasonably be mistaken for the second. I bear in mind as well that Z32 had to make the judgment call in a split second, although even with more leisure, there is a superficial resemblance between the two objects.
- The evidence about the jump leads was all important. Whatever else Z32 knew about the Claimant and whatever else happened before he discharged his weapon would not, on its own, have justified his shot. As he put it in his evidence, he fired in self-defence. He did not fire to prevent the Mercedes escaping. He did not fire to assist with his arrest of Mr Davis or as part of a search of the car. He did not fire to prevent the commission of any other crime than what he feared would be an immediate assault on himself.
- That said, the reasonableness of Z32's fear that he was about to be shot was reinforced by what he had been told about Mr Davis. The briefing at Bexleyheath was recorded. From the transcript, I can see that he was told, among other things that
'the intelligence suggests that the man by the name of Curtis Lee Davis…is associated with a gang of violent criminals and currently actively involved in firearms related offences including robbery, class A drugs trafficking and other gun related crime. He's recently been released, I think it was in June last year from a 9 year prison sentence, having served 5 years for criminal damage where he fired a gun into a door, and using a firearm with intent to resist arrest. Basically he was chased from a stolen vehicle and he fired 9 rounds into a door and then fired some shots at the police officers that chased him, TSG…Right, the recent intelligence suggests that Davis is currently involved in aspects of serious criminality and the information we've got at the moment is that he's gonna commit a robbery somewhere in Rugby with unknown associates sometime today…the intention is if he stops to get a firearm on the way, we'll stop him, they'll be an intervention, we stop him and take the gun off him, or him and his associates.'
- This information was conveyed to Z32 by a Trident officer. It would have been reasonable for Z32 to treat it as reliable.
- Before the stop, Z32 learned that Mr Davis was by then believed to have a gun. When I come to consider the claim in negligence, I will examine the basis for that information. For present purposes it is sufficient to say that it would be reasonable for Z32 to treat it as reliable. Z32 knew that the default position of the day's operation was that Mr Davis and his associates were to be kept under surveillance until they left the Metropolitan Police District. There was only to be an intervention if information was received that he (or his associates) acquired a gun before they left London. The tactical commander of the operation was Silver. It was his job to assess whether there was such information. His decision to move to 'state amber' told Z32 that he thought there was. It was not the role of an SFO in Z32's position to try to second guess or make some second assessment of the quality of the information which had been received. He was entitled to work on the basis that it was sufficiently reliable. Z32 was told by Q9 that it was Mr Davis who was in possession of the firearm. He was likewise entitled to treat this as reliable information coming, as it did from his team leader and the Bronze Commander.
- For all of these reasons I conclude that Z32's belief that he was facing imminent lethal peril was a reasonable one.
- It will be noted that I have said nothing about the other occupants of the Mercedes and the Volvo and not referred to Mr Davis's involvement with Mr Robinson earlier in the day. There is no evidence that Z32 was told about who the other occupants of the two cars were or their backgrounds. He may have been told during the course of the day that Mr Davis had met with Mr Robinson, but I have no evidence to that effect. After the stop the police learned that the Volvo had been stolen and it contained a claw hammer, tape, gloves and a mask. All of these would have been useful if the occupants really were embarked on a robbery. However, Z32 was ignorant of these facts at the time he fired. None of the matters referred to in this paragraph can therefore have had any bearing on whether his belief that he was about to be shot was a reasonable one.
The battery claim: conclusion
- Z32 deliberately injured Mr Davis, but he did so in lawful self-defence. The claim in battery is accordingly dismissed.
The claim in negligence: was Mr Davis owed a relevant duty of care?
- Ms Williams accepted that, to establish a duty of care, the Claimant had to satisfy the three-fold test in Caparo Industries plc v Dickman  2 AC 465. In particular, she had to show that it was fair, just and reasonable for the officers who planned and conducted the operation on 28th January 2009 to owe him a duty of care.
- Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire  1 AC 53 found that there was no duty of care to the potential victims of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. In part this was because the potential class was so large (see p.62), but Lord Keith relied as well on policy reasons as to why there should not be such a duty of care (see p.63). Hill preceded Caparo. The breadth of some of Lord Keith's propositions have been questioned, but what is sometimes described as the 'core Hill' principle remains intact - see for instance Brooks v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  1 WLR 1495 where Lord Steyn said at 
'But the core principle of Hill's case has remained unchallenged in our domestic jurisprudence and in European jurisprudence for many years. If a case such as the Yorkshire Ripper case, which was before the House in Hill's case, arose for decision today, I have no doubt that it would be decided in the same way. It is, of course, desirable that police officers should treat victims and witnesses properly and with respect…But to convert that ethical value into legal duties of care on the police towards victims and witnesses would be going too far. The prime function of the police is the preservation of the Queen's peace. The police must concentrate on preventing the commission of crime; protecting life and property and apprehending criminals and the preserving evidence….A retreat from the principle in Hill's case would have detrimental effects for law enforcement. Whilst focussing on investigating crimes, and the arrests of suspects, police officers would in practice be required to ensure that in every contact with a potential witness or a potential victim time and resources were deployed to avoid the risk of causing harm or offence. Such legal duties would tend to inhibit a robust approach in assessing a person as a possible suspect, witness or victim. By placing general duties of care on the police to victims and witnesses the police's ability to perform their public functions in the interests of the community fearlessly and with dispatch, would be impeded. It would, as was recognised in Hill's case, be bound to lead to an unduly defensive approach in combating crime.'
- Ms Williams argued that the position was different in the present case since the Claimant's complaint was not of an omission to act, but negligence in relation to a positive act which had directly caused Mr Davis injury. She referred me to Attorney-General of the British Virgin Islands v Hartwell  1 WLR 1273. In that case the Privy Council had found that the police did owe a duty of care when they entrusted a firearm to a police officer. The duty was to take reasonable care to see that he was a suitable person to be an armed officer. Lord Nicholls at  had emphasised that the case did not fall on the 'omissions' side of the imprecise boundary line separating liability for acts from liability for omissions. He said 'In a police case this distinction is important.'
- However, this very same distinction was advanced in Brooks as a reason for distinguishing Hill. As Lord Steyn said at 
'While not challenging the decision of the House of Lords in Hill's case counsel submitted that it can be distinguished. The only suggested distinction ultimately pursued was that in Hill's case the police negligence was the indirect cause of the murder of the daughter whereas in the present case the police directly caused the harm to Mr Brooks. That hardly does justice to the essential reasoning in Hill's case. In any event, Calveley v Chief Constable of the Merseyside Police  AC 1228, Elguzouli Daf v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  QB 335 and Kumar v Commissioner of Police of Metropolis 31st January 1995 were cases of alleged positive and direct negligence by the police. The distinction is unmeritorious.'
Lord Nicholls gave a short judgment agreeing with Lord Steyn (and Lord Bingham).
- It may be that the critical feature of Hartwell was what Lord Nicholls said in . The duty of care before entrusting a firearm to someone
'would not impose a special duty of care on police authorities. One would expect a like duty to exist on everyone who entrusts another with a loaded firearm. That is eminently fair and reasonable. The serious risks involved if a gun is handed over carelessly are obvious. The precautionary steps required of a careful person are not likely to be particularly burdensome.'
- In the present case it is not, and could not, be said that there was a lack of care in selecting which officers should be allowed to carry firearms. The duties of care which are advanced concern the planning and briefing of firearms officers and the relaying of intelligence in the course of a police operation. Those are matters which are carried out peculiarly by the police. Putting it at its lowest, it is far from obvious that they would not be particularly burdensome duties of care.
- In Van Colle v Chief Constable of the Hertfordshire Police; Smith v Chief Constable of Sussex Police  1 AC 225, Lord Bingham suggested a principle on which the police might be liable for a broader duty of care, but his was a minority view. The majority considered that Brooks expressed a general proposition, not confined to its particular facts.
- Ms Williams placed particular reliance on Michael v Chief Constable of South Wales Police  2 WLR 343, but here, too, Lord Toulson at  referred to Brooks and the specific passage in Lord Steyn's speech when he had described the distinction between police negligence which was the direct as opposed to indirect cause of harm as unmeritorious. At  he listed Brooks as one of the most important decisions on whether the police owed a duty of care. He did not suggest it was wrong.
- Mr Beggs referred me to Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police  EWCA Civ 15,  PIQR P14 in which the Court of Appeal again found that no duty of care was owed, in this case to a bystander who was knocked over and injured in the course of police chasing a suspect on foot. In that case, the Claimant (like Ms Williams) sought to distinguish Van Colle on the basis that that was a claim for failing to prevent harm, whereas Ms Robinson was suing for harm which the officers had directly caused to her. Hallett LJ rejected the argument. She said,
' The direct physical harm argument was disposed of once and for all in Lord Steyn's speech in Brooks and again in Marc Rich. As he observed the distinction drawn by counsel does not do justice to the rationale in Hill. It might be said it ignores it. The Hill principle is designed to prevent defensive policing and better protect the public. It would fundamentally undermine that objective to make the police liable for direct acts but not indirect acts. It would encourage the police to avoid positive action for fear of being sued. There is a "qualitative difference" between direct physical damage and indirect economic loss but that difference will only colour the court's attitude to deciding when it is fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty. It will not mean that claims on one side of the line must fail and claims on the other must proceed.
 Moreover, the line between direct and indirect harm may be a very fine one. This case is a classic example. Miss Widdett claims that this is a clear case of direct harm. Mr Skelt insists that it is a clear case of indirect harm and the Recorder so found. Whether or not the police should be held liable should not depend on who was responsible for knocking into Mrs Robinson, the officer or the offender. It makes no sense to hold the Chief Constable liable in the former case but not the latter.
 This "immunity" (I use the term as shorthand) would be of little or no practical benefit if it was restricted in the way Miss Widdett suggested. Arresting criminals very commonly carries some form of risk. Yet there is an obvious public interest in not imposing a duty which might deter the police from removing a drugs dealer from the streets. Miss Widdett posed the rhetorical question: what would the public think if the police, in the process of arresting criminals, could injure innocent members of the public with impunity? The answer is: provided the police act within reason, the public would prefer to see them doing their job and taking drug dealers off the street. It will be little comfort to Mrs Robinson, but the risk to passers-by like her is trumped by the risk to society as a whole.'
- Ms Williams argued that Robinson was different because there was no sufficient proximity between the claimant, who was only a bystander, and the police officers giving chase. By contrast, the Claimant was the very object of the police operation on 28th January. It is right that the Court of Appeal did find that there was insufficient proximity for a duty of care to arise, but this was an additional reason for concluding that no duty of care existed 'even disregarding the Hill principle' – see . This distinction does not, therefore, assist the Claimant. Ms Williams also argued that Robinson did not involve a dangerous item such as a gun (unlike Hartwell) and the case preceded Michael. However, I have already given my reasons as to why, in my judgment, neither of these cases assists the Claimant.
- There is a category of case (not, I acknowledge, the only one) where the police do owe a duty of care. That is where they have assumed responsibility for the claimant or assumed a duty of care towards him. On occasions, the police have been found to owe a duty of care to an informer on this basis. Ms Williams argued that the police had assumed a duty of care to Mr Davis. I reject this argument. Mr Davis does not claim to have been an informer. There is no evidence from which it could be inferred that the police had assumed any kind of responsibility for Mr Davis (I exclude, necessarily, their treatment of him after he had been shot, about which there is no complaint).
- Ms Williams also relied on Rigby v Chief Constable of Northamptonshire  1 WLR 1242 QBD where a psychopath had occupied a gunsmith's shop. He had spread inflammable powder on the floor and used the guns in the shop to fire at the police. The police had CS gas canisters but, appreciating that these might create a fire risk, initially arranged for fire fighting equipment to be available. However, that equipment was diverted elsewhere and no alternative precautions were in place when the police fired the CS gas at the building which then caught fire. Taylor J found the police to be liable in negligence to the owner of the building in these circumstances.
- Ms Williams is entitled to observe that in Hill Lord Keith treated Rigby as an example of a police officer, like anyone else, being liable to a person who is injured as a direct result of his acts or omissions (see p.59), but, as I have already shown, that simple division between direct and indirectly caused harm was rejected by Lord Steyn in Brooks. In Robinson Hallett and Sullivan LJJ treated Rigby as an example of outrageous negligence where the police would be liable (see ). Arnold J. in the same case saw it as an example of assumption of responsibility (see ). Whichever of these is the correct way of looking at Rigby, it does not help the Claimant. There was no outrageous negligence and there was no assumption of responsibility.
- For all of these reasons I conclude that the police did not owe the Claimant a duty of care.
- That is sufficient to dispose of the claim in negligence which must, therefore, fail. However, I will consider the allegations of negligence. This is convenient in case I am wrong in my conclusion on a duty of care. It is also necessary in the context of the Claimant's claim under Article 2 of the ECHR.
The claim in negligence: was there negligence and, if so, was it material?
Was there negligence in relation to the details of the Claimant's 2003 convictions and, if so, was it material?
- The Defendant accepts that there was an error in the application form for firearms authorisation ('the FA1') which, in turn, was repeated in the briefings which were given to Z32 and the other SFOs at Leman Street and Bexleyheath. The Defendant accepts that the Claimant had not fired at police officers. He had pointed the loaded pistol from a distance of five feet at PC Ian Batten who thought he was going to be shot. He also pointed it (also while loaded) at PC Macleod. After firing it at the door, he had pointed it at the taxi driver, other police officers and the scooter rider. It by then had no further bullets, although they, of course, were not to know that.
- I agree that this was an important error. As Z32 agreed in the course of his evidence, it is relatively rare for a gun to be fired at police officers. For the Claimant to have been named as someone who had done so would mark him out as a particularly dangerous individual. Z32 agreed as much. This error was therefore of a different order to another which featured in the summary of the 2003 offences. He was said to have been sentenced to 9 years imprisonment. That was the sentence of the trial judge, but it had been reduced by the Court of Appeal to 8 years. Rightly, the Claimant attached no significance to this mistake. Whether his sentence was 8 or 9 years would make no difference in the assessment of his dangerousness.
- The intelligence regarding the planned robbery in Rugby was received on 27th January. It said the offence was to be committed the following day. The FA1 therefore had to be submitted speedily. In other circumstances that need for speed would be a material factor in deciding whether there had been negligence. However, as I have shown, the Claimant had been the subject of Operation Dexirote for some months by this time. Trident had done research into his background. The original witness statements from the 2003 offences might not have been readily available but other, authoritative sources (for instance the judgment of the Court of Appeal) would have been. There were other documents in police records which had spoken of Mr Davis firing at police officers. ZT11 said in his evidence that he had tried to resolve the discrepancy, but none of the people to whom he had tried to speak had returned his calls. I agree with Ms Williams that this is no answer. At the very least the FA1 and the briefings should have drawn attention to the uncertainty as to whether the Claimant had shot at police officers. Neither of them did.
- These were errors which should not have occurred. They would not have been made had the officers been acting reasonably competently. The Claimant is entitled to say that they were negligent.
- But was this negligence material? The Claimant says it was for two reasons. First, the error was significant in Det. Sup. Richardson's decision to deploy the team of SFO's as a bolt-on to the operation. Secondly, the Claimant submits, it materially affected Z32's perception of him as a very dangerous man and, so, in turn played a part in his belief that the Claimant was pointing a gun at him.
- These propositions can only be tested by asking whether different decisions would have been made if the error had not occurred.
- Det. Sup. Richardson was challenged in cross examination as to whether he would have granted the firearms authorisation (and, in particular the bolt-on aspect) had the error about the Claimant's 2003 offences not been included. He said that, in those circumstances, he would still have given the authorisation and would still have required the bolt-on of a team of SFOs. The latter would still have been needed in case intelligence was received that the Claimant and his team obtained a gun in London. Det. Sup. Richardson said that in 2003 the Claimant had had a gun. Even if he had been told that no shots had been fired at police, this would have made no difference to his decision on 28th January. By then, as well, there had been intelligence that the Claimant had been trying to acquire a machine gun in October 2008. From his involvement with Trident, Detective Superintendent Richardson believed that the Claimant was part of the Tottenham Man Dem gang and, within that group, he was well respected and feared by other criminals. I accept his evidence that, in all the circumstances, the error in the FA1 document about the 2003 offences made no difference to his decision to authorise the deployment of the SFO team.
- It is very difficult to try to disaggregate the information which Z32 carried with him when he leapt out of his car at the intervention. This is the kind of difficulty to which Lord Neuberger alluded in Ashley at , but I will do the best I can. As I have already noted, Z32 accepted in cross examination that the information that he had been given as to the Claimant's previous convictions, coupled with the information that the Claimant was believed to be in possession of a gun, meant that he was a very, very dangerous man. He accepted that it was unusual for someone to fire at a police officer. The information at the morning briefings that this was what the Claimant had done in 2003 put him in that small category of criminals. As Ms Williams submitted, this feature of the 2003 offence had been highlighted in the Bexleyheath briefing.
- Nonetheless, in his statement for these proceedings and in his evidence Z32 said that, if this extra feature had not been included in the briefing, it would have made no difference. Had the briefing said the truth, that the Claimant had brandished a loaded fireman at a policeman who thought he was going to be shot, fired the gun at the doorway reckless as to whether life was endangered thereby, and then again pointed the firearm at other police officers and members of the public (who were unaware that it was by then empty), I accept Z32's evidence that he would still have regarded the Claimant as dangerous. That would have been sufficient to reinforce his perception that the Claimant was pointing a gun at him when he saw the Claimant in the Mercedes. I therefore conclude that the mistake in the briefings, negligent though it was, was not material.
Was there negligence in relation to the information that the Claimant was in possession of a gun and, if so, was it material?
- The sequence of events on this issue needs to be examined carefully.
i) Silver recorded in his log at 22.26, 'intel to suggest subject carrying firearm'.
ii) At 2230 Silver's log says 'CO19 informed of intel and tactics discussed. Decision to stop on M1 high risk. Tactic agreed that once vehicle head towards M1 they will be stopped.'
iii) Although there is a small difference in the time, this seems to be the same matter to which Q9 was referring when he wrote in his log at 22.23 'intel update from Silver. It is believed sub 1 may be in possession of a f/arm.'
iv) In his statement for Operation Easley, Q9 said 'It was at 22.23 I logged a phone call from the Silver Commander that changed the status of the operation. I was informed that intelligence now indicates that Subject (1) was in possession of a firearm and we may be required to carry out a stop.'
v) Silver's log notes at 22.35 'review intel re firearm'.
vi) There was further discussion between Silver and Q9. Silver's decision was recorded at 22.45 'Decision and tactics reviewed with CO19. Agreed that when vehicles move off they will be stopped.'
vii) Q9's log has two entries. At 22.30 he noted, 'Conversation with Silver. If OCN in vehicle 1 travelling from current location to M1 interception by CO19 will be authorised.' At 22.45 Q9's log says, 'Conversation with Silver. Concerns over 2 vehicles in convoy. I request Silver to identify priority vehicle due to difficulties forcibly stopping 2 vehicles in convoy. Priority vehicle is whichever vehicle contains subject 1. At present this is the Merc A Class vehicle 1. Also concerns over fast road stop. If early decision for state amber possible this is requested due to additional damage of fast road stop…'
viii) All of this took place before an observation made by LN140, one of the surveillance officers, at 11.01 pm 'IC3 and large IC3 fiddling in waistband of trousers to Mercedes and off.' In a post incident briefing after the event, LN140 added 'I saw the large IC3 wearing the black jacket and grey hood fiddle with the waistband of his trousers on a number of occasions. This was in and around the area of a belt buckle.' In his witness statement for these proceedings, LN140 confirmed that the man fiddling with the waistband of his trousers was not Mr Davis. In cross examination, LN140 said that the man who had been fiddling with his waistband had got into the Volvo.
ix) Again the timings do not quite match, but it seems to have been this observation which led Q9 to note in his log at 22.50 another conversation with Silver. The entry says,
'5 IC3 males including Subject 1 in street (Woodside). Silver asks possibility of intervening now to carry out armed arrest. It is believed (intelligence indicates) that these suspects are intent on carrying out criminal offence and subject 1 is in possession of a firearm. Comments have been made by surveillance team that subject 1 has touched waistband of trousers. Silver Commander now satisfied a firearm is being carried and will go to amber. I advised Silver an interception whilst all subjects on foot is a risk due to decamp in a residential area and risk to public. Silver agrees. Amber will be given over the main channel when subjects in vehicle and away.'
In his statement for Operation Easley, Q9 said of what I take to be this conversation that Silver
'reiterated the intelligence Subject 1 was carrying a firearm. He also made reference to surveillance officers describing Subject 1 actions "fiddling with his waistband"'.
x) At 23.50 Silver noted in his log that the Mercedes and Volvo had been seen to move off together. He called Amber. At 23.51 his logs notes that the vehicles had stopped. Amber remained and the vehicles would be stopped when the occupants were inside and safe. Q9's log records that Amber was called at the end of an entry timed at 23.30.
- In his oral evidence, Q9 understandably relied on his log as the contemporaneous, and therefore likely to be the most accurate, record of events. He agreed that he depended on information which he got from Silver rather than from the surveillance officers direct. There was a separate radio channel which the surveillance team used and to which he had access, but there was a lot of chatter on that channel and it was sometimes easy to miss things.
- Ms Williams submitted that it was only with the observation that a man (wrongly believed to be the Claimant) had been fiddling with his waistband that the status of the operation changed and an intervention was called by Silver. This observation, she argued, was a critical step in the chronology. Without it, the status of the operation would not have been changed and the two cars would have been allowed to proceed. LN133 (the loggist for the surveillance officers) had not made the mistaken identification of the Claimant as the man who had fiddled with his waistband. It must have been either Silver or Q9. This was a mistake on an important matter and was negligent.
- On this issue, I make the following findings:
i) Intelligence was received at about 22.23 that the Claimant was in possession of a firearm. This intelligence was some 40 minutes before the surveillance officers made their observation of a man fiddling with his waistband and was distinct from it. At the hearing I was not told anything further about the nature of this intelligence or its source. A little more became apparent from the less redacted version of the Operation Easley report which was served after the hearing. This said,
'This intelligence has been reviewed by the IPCC; they are content with the provenance of the intelligence.'
ii) The deployment of CO19 officers had been authorised by Det. Sup. Richardson in addition to the arming of surveillance officers in case intelligence was obtained during the day that the suspects were carrying a gun. Metropolitan Police policy was not to allow such a situation to continue for longer than was reasonably practicable.
iii) Silver and Q9 discussed how an intervention might be implemented before the 'fiddling with the waistband' observation took place. I find that, on the basis of the intelligence alone and even without the waistband observation, the status of the operation had changed from surveillance to intervention and arrest.
iv) State Amber was not called by Silver until about 23.50, but the delay is explained by a reason other than uncertainty as to the reliability of the original intelligence. Q9 advised, and Silver agreed, that it would be dangerous to try to arrest the subjects while they were on foot. It was thought to be safer to make the intervention when they were in their cars. This was clearly the case only after about 11.00pm.
v) The observation of a man fiddling with a waistband was reasonably treated as suspicion of possession of a firearm. These were a group of men who were believed to be about to embark on a robbery. The Claimant had previous convictions for firearms offences and there was intelligence that he had relatively recently been interested in acquiring firearms. It was common for criminals to carry a firearm in the waistband of their trousers, as indeed the Claimant had done in 2003.
vi) On the balance of probabilities it was Silver who mistakenly identified Claimant as the man who had fiddled with his waistband. It is right to recall that I did not hear from Silver and I note that his log makes no reference to the 'fiddling' observation at all. Q9's log says that it was Silver who said the Claimant had been fiddling with his waistband and I accept that this is what Q9 was told by Silver.
vii) This observation was treated by Q9 as confirmatory of the earlier intelligence. However, I find that, even if there had not been the mistaken attribution of this observation to the Claimant, the intervention would have taken place anyway. Had the observation been correctly attributed to one of the occupants of the Volvo, it would have meant that there were now grounds to suspect that two members of the party were armed. That would have been an additional reason to go ahead with the intervention, not a reason to call it off.
viii) Q9 would have been obliged to tell his team that there was intelligence that the Claimant was armed, regardless of the waistband observation. In his evidence, which I accept, he said that this is what he would have done. If the identification of the man fiddling with his waistband had been communicated correctly, it would have meant that he would have also told them that one of the occupants of the Volvo might be armed as well. This, though, would have been in addition to communicating the earlier intelligence that the Claimant was carrying a gun.
ix) As Q9 confirmed in his evidence, the SFOs could not know for certain whether the Claimant (or any of the other occupants of the Mercedes or Volvo) was armed until the intervention actually took place. This was so whether the intelligence and the observation are considered separately or in combination.
x) It follows that in my judgment, even if Silver had not made the mistake which he did, the intervention would still have taken place and, at the point when Z32 looked into the Mercedes, he would still have been aware of some intelligence that the Claimant was in possession of a gun.
- For these reasons, I do not consider that Silver's mistake was of any, or any material, significance in the belief which Z32 formed as to the Claimant pointing a gun at him.
Was there negligence in relation to the length of time that Z32 and the other SFOs were on duty and, if so, was it material?
- Q9 and his team had begun their duty that day at 7.00am. Necessarily, they would have been awake for an even longer period. Z32 said that he had got up at 5.30am. By midnight, therefore, he had been awake for about 18 ½ hours. A standard shift for firearms officers is 8 -10 hours. Plainly Q9's team had greatly exceeded that.
- A review had taken place at 7.00pm. Q9 reported that he considered his team were fit to continue and R19 approved that course. There was, in any case, no other team of firearms officers readily available and so the effective choice at that stage was either to allow Q9's team to continue or to withdraw the CO19 part of the operation. In my judgment the decision to allow the team to continue was a reasonable one.
i) Q9, who was in the best position to know, reported that his team were fit to continue. He did not check with each member of the team, but he assessed their behaviour, took account of the relatively easy week that they had had up to then, and considered that they were all fit for duty.
ii) In the two days prior to this operation, the team had worked regular shifts of ordinary length. They were on call if a team was needed at night, but they had not, in fact, been needed on either of the previous two nights. The previous days had not, therefore, been arduous.
iii) Up until 7.00pm (and, as it happened, up until 10.20pm) the team had not been actively employed. They had moved from one base to another (often police stations). There had, as Z32 put it, been a good deal of down time. Of course, this was not the same as being off duty. At least some of the team had to monitor the radio traffic to see if an intervention was going to be necessary. All of the team were aware that they could be needed for an intervention, potentially at short notice. I have not accepted Z32's evidence that he was sometimes actually asleep. Even so, for a team of officers who were as physically fit and as highly trained as the SFOs were, this had not been a particularly demanding period of duty.
iv) When Q9 spoke to the duty inspector (R19) he was told that there was no other team of SFOs available. At the time the Metropolitan Police had only 6 teams of such officers. One would be off duty, one would be training. Q9's team was a third. The duty rosters show that another of the teams was on another operation. At the time of the hearing R19 was abroad and so was not available to be called. Ms Williams would have wished to explore why exactly the other teams could not have been deployed. Ms Williams rightly observes that, after the intervention, the SFO's were relieved of duty for the next 2 days. I do not accept her submission, though, that this shows that there was flexibility in the system which could and should have been employed to bring in a substitute team at about 7.00pm on 28th January. The situations were not comparable. After Q9 got back to Leman Street he had to speak to PIM2, book in his weapons and have a consultation with the Force Medical Officer. He did not go off duty until 8.00am. He had thus been on duty for 25 hours, taken part in a 'hard stop' and one of his officers had discharged his weapon and injured someone. The flexibility in the system to allow him and his team to then have 2 days off duty says nothing useful as to whether there was unused flexibility the previous evening at 7.00pm. I am left with what Q9 was told and the Operation Easley statement dated 31st January 2009 from R19 that no relief team was available.
v) The surveillance officers were in a different position. They had been actively involved in following and reporting on the movements of the Claimant and those with whom he met. This was, and had been throughout most of the day, an active role. The first team of surveillance officers was relieved at about 4.00pm. That does not alter my view that the decision to allow the CO19 team to continue on into the evening and night was a reasonable one.
- Ms Williams also argues that the planning of the operation was deficient and negligent because arrangements had not been made earlier in the day for a relief team of CO19 officers to be available if this should be necessary. That would have been ideal. The IPCC investigation recommended that in future the Metropolitan Police should seek to make allowance for this. But, it is a further step to say that the omission to make arrangements of this kind on this occasion was negligent. The intelligence linking the Claimant to a planned robbery in Rugby only reached the Metropolitan Police on 27th January. The expected robbery was to take place the following day. There was no delay, therefore in embarking on plans for the operation. The initial application presented to Det. Sup. Richardson was for just armed surveillance officers. It was his decision (taken shortly after 9.00am on 28th January) that there should also be the bolt-on of a team of SFOs in case intelligence was received that the Claimant or his associates had acquired a gun. Thus arrangements for providing such a team and any relief team could not have commenced before then. There were, as I have said, only 6 teams. In theory, a potential relief team of officers who were off duty could have been assembled on a contingency basis, but I accept that this was not a step which should have been taken lightly. There was at this stage of the morning no positive intelligence that the Claimant would acquire a gun before he left London and, it was only if that happened, that the CO19 would be needed to effect an arrest. In all the circumstances, I do not consider that there was negligence on behalf of the officers who planned the operation because they did not in the morning of 28th January put in place contingent arrangements for a relief team of SFOs or make some ad hoc arrangement at around 7.00pm.
- In any case, if there had been such negligence, I do not consider that it was material. Z32 gave evidence that he was not fatigued by the time the arrest took place. He, like the other members of the team, was physically fit. He, like the other members of the team, had not had a particularly demanding day. He was a highly trained officer. I accept his evidence that, as Q9's deputy, he was able to give the 'strike' command to the team and the fact that he did so is not a sign that he was under strain or over-tense. When confronted with what he honestly believed was a gun pointing at him, he did not fire more than a single round. In his witness statement for these proceedings, Q38 said that after the shot was fired, Z32 seemed calm and in control. In his evidence, Q38 said that he meant that Z32 did not seem to need further assistance from him. His evidence provides very limited corroboration of Z32's mental state at the time he saw the Claimant, but even without that I do not find that Z32's judgment or perception was significantly affected adversely by the period of time he had been on duty or awake.
The claim in negligence: conclusion
- For all of these reasons, I conclude that the claim in negligence fails. None of the officers involved owed Mr Davis a duty of care. In any event, save for the preparation of the briefing, none of them was negligent. In any case, none of the matters relied on by the Claimant (including the erroneous briefing) materially contributed to Z32's decision to discharge his weapon. I would come to that conclusion whether those matters are considered singly or in combination. I note finally that in her closing submissions Ms Williams withdrew the further allegation in paragraph 33(e) of the Amended Particulars of Claim that there had been negligence in the planning of the intervention itself.
The Human Rights claim: the law
- Article 2 of the ECHR provides,
'1. Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is prescribed by law.
2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:
(a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
(c) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.'
- Mr Davis was not killed, but, as the Defendant concedes, the same protection applies in relation to the infliction of force which puts the individual's life at risk – see for instance Makaratzis v Greece Application No, 50385/99 (2005) 41 EHRR 49.
- There is no violation if the force which was used was 'absolutely necessary…in defence of a person from unlawful violence' – Article 2(2)(a). In part, this requires consideration from the perspective of the state agent who actually used force. His use of force will be treated as absolutely necessary if he honestly and on reasonable grounds believed that he was in imminent danger, even if that belief turns out to have been mistaken. As the European Court of Human Rights said in McCann v UK Application No. 18984/91 (1996) 21 EHRR 97 at ,
'The actions which [the soldiers] took, in obedience to superior orders, were thus perceived by them as absolutely necessary in order to safeguard innocent lives.
[The Court] considers that the use of force by agents of the State in pursuit of one of the aims delineated in Article 2(2) of the Convention may be justified under this provision where it is based on an honest belief which is perceived, for good reasons, to be valid at the time but which subsequently turns out to be mistaken. To hold otherwise would be to impose an unrealistic burden on the State and its law enforcement personnel in the execution of their duty, perhaps to the detriment of their lives and those of others.'
- The Strasbourg Court has said more than once that, so far as this aspect of Article 2 is concerned, the test is the same as English law – see for instance Bennett v UK Application No.5527/08 (2011) 52 EHRR SE7 at . It was referring to the necessity to show an honest and reasonable belief in the need for self-defence ibid at .
- I said that Article 2 in part requires consideration of the position of the actual agent of the state who used force. That is because, as the Court also made clear in McCann ( see ), where force is used in the course of a planned operation, it is also necessary to scrutinise whether the operation was planned and controlled by the authorities so as to minimise, to the greatest extent possible extent, recourse to lethal force. McCann itself concerned an operation by the UK government when SAS soldiers had been deployed in Gibraltar against what was believed to be an IRA unit which was going to explode a bomb. On the facts, the Court found that there was not a breach of Article 2 in the immediate shooting of the suspects, but a majority held (by 10:9) that there had been a breach of Article 2 in the planning and control of the operation.
- But the Strasbourg Court has also shown itself sensitive to the needs of law enforcement personnel to operate effectively. In Bubbins v UK Application No. 50196/99 (2005) 41 EHRR 24 a complaint was made by the sister of a man who had been shot dead by the police. He had been seen in a flat with what was believed to be a gun. Unsuccessful efforts were made to persuade him to come out. He appeared to point his 'gun' at the police when he was shot. It transpired that the 'gun' was a replica. The Court recognised the danger of revisiting the events with the benefit of hindsight (see ). It found that various steps could have been taken or taken differently, but concluded in the end that none of them would have been likely to have made a difference. It concluded at 
'The Court cannot agree with the applicant's submission that the manner in which the operation was planned and conducted inevitably led to the fatal shooting of Michael Fitzgerald. It must be recalled that the incident was relatively brief and was fraught with risk. During that time operational decisions had to be made as the situation evolved and more information became available. The incident ended abruptly and tragically.'
- Likewise, in Andronicou and Constantinou v Cyprus Application No. 25052/94 (1997) 25 EHRR 491 the Court criticised some aspects of a police operation which led to the death of a young couple who had been shot by the police, but it found, nevertheless, that the operation in general was conducted in a manner which was reasonable in the circumstances (see ).
- Ms Williams contends that, for the purposes of the Claimant's Article 2 claim, he does not have to show a causal link between the failures in planning and control of the operation on 28th January 2009. The absence of such a connection would be relevant only to quantum of damages. She relies on Sarjantson v Chief Constable of Humberside Police  QB 411 CA. The claimant had been assaulted by a number of men with baseball bats. Shortly before the attack a number of emergency calls had been made to the police but, it was alleged, they had been tardy in responding. The claimant sued on the basis that his right under Article 2 to a reasonable level of protection had been violated. In the county court the claim was struck out as disclosing no reasonable cause of action, in part because there was insufficient time for the police to respond after the emergency call. The Court of Appeal reversed the judge's decision. The duty to take reasonable steps to provide protection (in response to a real and immediate threat to life) arose with the first emergency call to the police and which made the situation sufficiently clear. Compliance with that duty was not affected by what happened afterwards and so liability was not to be judged with the benefit of hindsight. If a timely response would in fact have made no difference, that would be relevant to quantum. Indeed, if the absence of such a response in fact made no difference, it would mean that the claimant would not be entitled to any damages at all for the breach of the article 2 right (see -).
- All of this, though, related to a different aspect of Article 2. It concerned what is known as the Osman duty (after Osman v UK (1998) 29 EHRR 245). In summary, the Strasbourg Court has found that it is implicit in Article 2 that if the authorities knew or ought to have known of the existence of a real and immediate threat to the life of an individual from the criminal acts of a third party, they must normally take reasonable steps within their power to avoid that risk.
- Ms Williams submits that there is not such a distinction between these different aspects of the Article 2 obligation. She cites Guiliani and Gaggio v Italy Application No. 23458/02 (2012) 54 EHRR 10 in which the Grand Chamber of the Court did indeed refer to the Osman duty at  and also to the obligation of the authorities to take appropriate care in the planning and control of a police operation at . Both these references were in the context of the Court's summary of the general applicable principles. However, I do not accept Ms Williams' conclusion that the Court was thus viewing the latter obligation as an aspect of the Osman duty. The applicants in the case were relatives of a man who had been demonstrating in Genoa at the time of a G8 summit. He had been shot and killed by a carabinieri. The applicants alleged that Italy had violated Article 2 in a number of different ways. One concerned the inadequate planning for the policing of the demonstration (hence the relevance of what was said in ), but they also alleged that after the demonstrator had been shot, none of the other officers at the demonstration had provided proper assistance to the injured man (see ). This would appear to explain why the Court included in  its references to the Osman duty. But, in any case, the Grand Chamber did appear to regard a causal link with death as necessary, since it said at ,
'Furthermore, for the state's responsibility under the Convention to be engaged, it must be established that the death resulted from a failure on the part of the national authorities to do all that could reasonably be expected of them to avoid a real and immediate risk to life of which they had or ought to have had knowledge.'
- If Ms Williams was right, it would have been unnecessary for the Court in Bubbins or Andronicou and Constantinou to consider whether the death in question would have occurred notwithstanding the flaws in the planning or conduct of the operations which it identified.
- Consequently, in my judgment, the materiality of any negligence on the part of the police is relevant to Mr Davis's Article 2 claim.
- In the Amended Particulars of Claim, the Claimant pleads that, he, too, was a victim of a breach of the Osman duty. This seems, with respect, unreal. If Z32 did not honestly and reasonably believe that he was about to be shot there would be a straightforward breach of the core obligation in Article 2. If the planning or conduct of the operation was so deficient that the use of lethal force was not absolutely necessary, there would likewise be a breach. The Osman duty is intended to cater for the situation where the force in question is inflicted by criminals - by some third party, not by a state agent (or at least not by an agent for whom the state is responsible). That is simply not this case. Z32 was a police officer who was taking part in an authorised police operation. In these circumstances, the additional duty referred to in Osman is not relevant. For the same reason, it is not necessary for me to try to resolve the tension that might be said to exist between the passage at  in Guiliani which I have quoted above and a somewhat looser approach to causation when the Osman duty is relied upon which is suggested by Opuz v Turkey Application No. 33401/02 (2010) 50 EHRR 28 at .
The Human Rights claim: the facts
- I can now apply the law on Article 2 to the facts of Mr Davis's claim. I have found that Z32 honestly and reasonably believed that he was about to be shot. In those circumstances, the shooting itself did not amount to a breach of Article 2.
- I have also found that there was no material negligence by the police. In those circumstances, the planning and conduct of the operation did not amount to a breach of Article 2. I note as well that in this context, the Strasbourg Court looks more widely at the way in which firearms officers are trained, the control structure under which they operate and the briefings which they received as to the circumstances in which force could be used. As the Grand Chamber said in Nachova v Bulgaria Application Nos 43577/98 and 43579/98 (2006) 42 EHRR 43 at ,
'Furthermore, the national law regulating policing operations must secure a system of adequate and effective safeguards against arbitrariness and abuse of force and even against avoidable accidents. In particular, law enforcement agents must be trained to assess whether or not there is an absolute necessity to use firearms not only on the basis of the letter of the relevant regulations but also with regard to the pre-eminence of respect for human life as a fundamental value.'
- In the present case, the training was rigorous (SFOs receive a lengthy period of training before they are authorised and then receive refresher training and have to be reaccredited on a 6 week cycle), the control structure was detailed and robust and Z32 was reminded in the briefing at Bexleyheath of the limited circumstances in which he was entitled to fire. The Defendant is entitled to rely on these factors as additional reasons why there was no breach of Article 2.
Human Rights claim: conclusion
- It follows that the claim under the Human Rights Act 1998 also fails.
- In summary, the claim in battery fails because the Claimant was shot in lawful self-defence by Z32 who wrongly, but honestly and reasonably, believed that he was about to be shot. The claim in negligence fails because the Defendant owed the Claimant no duty of care, but, in any case, there was no material negligence on the part of the police. Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights was engaged, but it was not violated either by the act of Z32 in shooting the Claimant, nor in consequence of the planning or conduct of the operation.
- Accordingly, it follows that the claim is dismissed.