Compensation Payout for Wrongfully Imprisoned Firefighter

Wrongfully imprisoned and injured by police


A firefighter from Oldbury, Sandwell has won £15,000 compensation after being assaulted and wrongfully imprisoned by West Midlands Police.

On 1 June 2004, John James, 37, a firefighter with Gloucestershire Fire Service, was at his local McDonalds restaurant on Freeth Street, Oldbury with his son (aged 6) and his now ex- partner, when he was approached and wrongfully accused of dealing drugs before being forcibly taken to the local police station.

A friend of Mr James who was in the restaurant and the manager of the McDonalds both verified to the police that Mr James was not dealing drugs. However these pleas were ignored and one of the police officers verbally threatened him before launching a physical assault.

Injuries from police assault

Mr James was roughly handcuffed, had his arm twisted behind his back and forced onto his knees. He suffered numerous injuries from the assault.

He was taken to Smethwick Police Station where he was not read his rights or allowed to use the telephone. After being seen by a police surgeon and issued with a fixed penalty notice relating to a public order offence, Mr James was released. Mr James denied any wrong doing and after several Court appearances and almost a year later the CPS discontinued the matter.

Mr James said "I couldn't believe the treatment I received. The police officers were informed a black man was selling drugs from a blue car in the car park of the McDonalds; I was in the queue waiting to be served standing with my son when I was approached by the policeman intent on arresting me. I have many friends in the police service and none would have treated me in this way. I had done nothing wrong and was crying at the time from the pain from the handcuffs digging into my wrist."

Several days after being released from custody Mr James collapsed and had to be treated in hospital. He spent three weeks in Russell Hall Hospital in Dudley. Tests confirmed that his collapse was likely to have been due to a serious adverse reaction to a tetanus injection he was given following his arrest.

Mr James made a formal complaint and his complaints of excessive force and that he was not given his rights at the police station were upheld. During the course of the investigation, the arresting officer PC Hill resigned from the police service and therefore it was not possible to bring any disciplinary action.

Police assault lawyer

Iftikhar Manzoor of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, who represented Mr James in his case against West Midlands Police said "Mr James is a respectable man and a member of the emergency services, this is clearly a case of an over reaction from Police officers on someone they may well have worked alongside at some point in their career.

"We are pleased that the Police have settled the case and that Mr James integrity and character remain intact. Only through bringing such cases to court can a spotlight be held up to the excesses of individuals within the nation's police forces."

If you or someone you know has been affected by police assault or wrongful imprisonment, our experts can help. Fill in our online claims form for free legal advice or visit our police damages section.