Patrick Wilson was travelling down London’s Old Kent Road when the Met Police brought him to a stop.
It was far from a routine stop.
The year was 1982 – November. The reason? The usual – drugs.
Patrick, a rastafarian confined to a wheelchair, had just dropped his girlfriend off at work and was on his way home to Nunhead when he was stopped by five Met Officers who suspected him of having drugs. They apparently made racist and abusive remarks to Mr Wilson as well as assault. This apparently because he couldn’t get out of his car. Wilson was terrified and drove back to the taxicab offices where his girlfriend worked, in order that he “should not be without witness.”
His girlfriend, Susan, from Peckham, went to speak to the officers who had followed Patrick to her workplace, and she attempted to mediate with the officers in view of her boyfriend’s disabilities & innocence.
In spite of Susan’s pleadings, the Met officers were intent on getting both parties convicted. The couple were arrested and transferred to Tower Bridge police station. En route they were subjected to a series of assaults. PC Patterson and PC Rossiter were responsible for a number of assaults including dropping Mr Wilson onto the floor inside the police van. Miss Farbridge was subject to both assault and no doubt also what essentially constitutes sexual harassment. The Met Officers forced her to strip and jump up and down naked.
Both Sergeant Gull and WPC Connell alleged Farbridge was in possession of drugs and clearly their line of intent was that Wilson had passed these on to her to avoid detection. No drugs were found on her, and neither on Mr Wilson nor in his impounded car.
Tower Bridge police station/magistrates (now closed) at 209-211 Tooley Street SE1
Wilson and Farbridge were charged with various offences including possession of drugs, obstructing and assaulting police officers. Wilson was charged also with dangerous driving on the Old Kent Road. Police allege he had obstructed a patrol car.
It soon transpired that the five officers involved in the case, PC Roderick Patterson, PC Neil Rossiter, PC Thomas Humphries, Sergeant Raymond Gull and WPC Karen Connell, were wicked, dishonest. They had all lied to cover their backs.
Patrick Wilson and Susan Farbridge took court action against the Met Police for assault, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. Their case was heard at the Old Bailey in December 1985. It is said at the time “The Met were running scared…” Not surprisingly the Met sought to settle out of court.
The Old Bailey jury rejected many of the five Met Officers’ claims, including that where Wilson was said to have driven in such a way that he obstructed a patrol car.
“Mr Wilson had been unlawfully arrested, maliciously prosecuted, falsely imprisoned, and for good measure assaulted, and that Miss Farbridge had been unlawfully arrested, falsely imprisoned and likewise (and humiliatingly) assaulted.” (Bernard Levin 1985)
Sir David Tudor Price, the Old Bailey judge presiding over the case ruled that the police had been ‘disgraceful’ and behaved ‘oppressively and in abuse of their powers.’
“I… began to think it possible that some policemen had been watching more American television programmes than was quite healthy for them.” (Bernard Levin 1985)
“If five officers conspire to commit unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and assault on a black man and his white companion, and then lie themselves even deeper into the mire while their superiors, who can see a barn door by daylight, are striving to prevent the case coming to court, then it seems to me that there is something very much deeper and rottener at the heart of the Met than the inevitable incidence of a few bad and dishonest members of it.” (Bernard Levin 1985)
On 6th December 1985 at the Old Bailey Justice Tudor Price awarded both Patrick Wilson and Susan Farbridge exemplary damages and added that the award to particularly Patrick Wilson would be “a mark of disapproval against the police.”
(Interestingly Judge Price, the then Common Sergeant of London, is perhaps most well known for controversially having let a paedophile off free, despite admission of over 300 charges involving sex with children.)
Bernard Levin: Who will defend us against the bullies in blue? Times 17 December 1985