Jason Beer QC and Jonathan Dixey appear in successful judicial review on the meaning of self-defence in police misconduct proceedings
In a highly significant judgment on the meaning of self-defence in police misconduct proceedings, the Divisional Court has today quashed a decision of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to direct the Metropolitan Police Service to hold disciplinary proceedings in respect of a Specialist Firearms Officer known as Officer W80. Officer W80, who brought the claim for judicial review against the IOPC, fatally shot Jermaine Baker in December 2015 during an attempt by Mr Baker and his accomplices to snatch a violent offender from custody whilst en route to Wood Green Crown Court. Officer W80 honestly believed that Mr Baker was reaching for a firearm at the time he shot him. That honest belief was in fact mistaken: Mr Baker did not have a firearm on his person.
In directing the MPS to hold misconduct proceedings, the IOPC had applied the civil law (objective) test of self-defence as applicable to the torts of assault or battery. The Court held that the IOPC had adopted the wrong test. The correct test to be applied when considering whether an officer has breached the ‘Use of Force’ Standard of Professional Behaviour, is the criminal law test: i.e. the necessity to respond to an imminent attack is to be judged on the assumption that the facts were as the officer believed them to be, whether or not mistaken, and if mistaken, whether or not the mistake was objectively reasonable.
The Court confirmed that the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics applies to the decisions of the IOPC. This confirms that the criminal law test applies.
A copy of the Judgment can be found online here.
Jason Beer QC was instructed on behalf of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.
Jonathan Dixey (led by Ian Stern QC), was instructed by Scott Ingram of Slater and Gordon, on behalf of Officer W80.