Settlement After PC Investigating Assault Is Found To Be Facebook Friends With Alleged Attacker

Lawyers Help Woman Charged Regarding Assault She Reported


A traumatised woman charged with assault for an incident which she reported to North Yorkshire Police as an attack on her has secured a settlement from the force, after it emerged that a police officer investigating the case was friends with her alleged attacker on Facebook.

The woman, who cannot be named, approached police in March 2012 after she suffered a broken nose and facial injuries in a nightclub assault in Ripon. But after a fortnight without any update, she was informed by police of a counter allegation of assault and also told by a friend that one of the investigating officers had links with the alleged assailant on social media.

After making a complaint to the force regarding a lack of progress on the case, she was interviewed under caution and then subsequently arrested and charged in relation to the incident in July 2012. The charges were ultimately dropped three months later, with no further action being taken in relation to the alleged incident.

Now, after helping her secure a settlement from North Yorkshire Police regarding the ordeal, specialist public lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are calling on police forces up and down the country to ensure steps are always taken to prevent officers from being involved in any investigation where there could be a potential conflict of interest.

Expert Opinion
This is an incredibly shocking case in which a woman reported a crime, yet was subsequently treated as the offender herself.

"As a result of what she has been through, our client was not only left with long-term psychological trauma but has also lost faith in the ability of police to deal with such problems.

"This experience has proven extremely damaging and we hope that securing the settlement – albeit without an admission of liability – will help her to take steps towards recovering from what she has faced."
Fiona McGhie, Solicitor

Irwin Mitchell’s client first spoke to officers regarding the incident, which left her with a broken nose and severe facial bruising, shortly after it occurred at a nightclub in Ripon on 24 March 2012. The following morning, she attended the police station to make an official allegation of assault.

Two weeks later, she was visited by a police constable who attended the initial scene and was told that a counter allegation of assault had been made. At the same time, a friend of the client revealed to her that the PC was in fact friends with her alleged assailant on Facebook, so she made a complaint regarding this.

In July 2012, the client was asked to attend the police station where she was interviewed under caution and then herself arrested for assault. She was then charged with assault a month later, with the charges then being dropped in October. No charges were ever brought against the other party.

North Yorkshire Police accepted that the PC’s actions were inappropriate but did not admit his friendship with the alleged assailant affected his decision-making. He was subsequently transferred to another station. While the force did not admit liability, they agreed to settle the case out-of-court.

Expert Opinion
This case raises very serious concerns regarding the actions of the police involved and it is absolutely vital that any allegations made to forces are always investigated in a thorough and proper manner.

"It is essential that the circumstances of this case are simply never repeated in the future."
Fiona McGhie, Solicitor