Jeremy Johnson QC and Kate Cornell successful in appeal on witness immunity

Today the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in CLG, AJD and JAD v Merseyside Police [2015] EWCA Civ 836. The case arose because the Claimants’ address had been included in a police witness statement for witness warrants. The statement had been mistakenly disclosed, via the CPS, to the criminal defendants in a trial, potentially putting the Claimants at risk of reprisals, and giving rise to claims in negligence, breach of Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s ruling dismissing the Claimants’ case in their entirety with, notably, the negligence claim being dismissed on the basis of the Hill line of authority, another recent affirmation of the principle that police forces do not generally owe a duty of care to the public at large.

Importantly, the Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s decision on a wider point that had been argued by the Defendant at trial, namely the “core immunity” of witnesses from suit.

The Court of Appeal accepted the Defendant’s argument and held that the police actions in disclosing a statement containing the Claimants’ address to the CPS did fall within the scope of the immunity since it formed part and parcel of the officer preparing to give the evidence contained in the statement in court.

The full judgment can be read here.