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Heroin addict ex-officer is allowed to sue former force


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Greater Manchester Police had argued the claimant waited too long to bring case alleging their negligence.

The case was heard at the Court of Appeal

The case was heard at the Court of Appeal

Judges have decided that a claim launched by former undercover officer accusing his old force of having responsibility for his heroin addiction can go ahead.

Former officer Robert Carroll wants damages from Greater Manchester Police, arguing his work undercover led to him become a drug addict.

He says at a training day at Sedgley Park in 2009 he inhaled heroin as part of a familiarisation exercise where officers were encouraged to handle, smell and burn the drug.

This, combined with work posing as a drug user on a Wythenshawe Estate and occasionally "kiting" heroin and cocaine, i.e. transporting it in his mouth, led to him developing an addiction, he says.

Mr Carroll argues there was a failure by the force to take risk assessments, and to provide him a safe system to work in.

GMP attempted to have his case thrown out at an early stage, arguing the law means a claim must be lodged within three years of a claimant knowing they had a serious injury.

But judges have now dismissed that and allowed the case to continue.

It was accepted the case was not brought within three years of Mr Carroll becoming aware of his issue, but the Court of Appeal ruled that a judge is entitled to use discretion if the delay would not cause a trial to be unfair.

Among the reasons why it would not be unfair if to continue, according to Sir Terence Etherton is: "There is no evidence that any enquiries have been made of present or former police officers, whether or not attending the training session in June 2009 or participating in [...] two police operations in which the claimant was involved […] as to their recollection of any relevant matters that took place or did not take place […].

"There is no evidence that any specific person, who the defendant would have wished to call as a witness, cannot be traced or cannot recall at all or with sufficient clarity relevant events and matters."

The force also failed to explain in court why it no longer had the daybooks used by relevant officers from the time, despite it being their policy to keep hold of them indefinitely, he added.

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