Following a seven-day trial in Bradford, West Yorkshire Police, represented by Olivia Checa-Dover, have successfully defended a multi-track claim for damages arising from alleged data protection breaches and misuse of private information.

At the relevant time, the Claimant was a Police Constable who returned to work on restricted duties following a fall from her horse. Upon her return, she reported significant limitations on her abilities, including an inability to drive for longer than 15 minutes. Reasonable adjustments were made, and the Claimant was permitted to work from a station closer to her home address.

Some time later, it came to the supervising officer’s attention that the Claimant was riding horses and competing in equestrian events, despite remaining on restricted hours and on restricted duties at work. Further, the evidence was suggestive of the Claimant driving for longer than her stated abilities.

The evidence received gave rise to a duty to investigate misconduct in the form of potential breaches of the Standards of Professional Behaviour, enshrined in the Code of Ethics. The necessity and proportionality of that investigation formed the subject matter of the litigation.

During the liability-only trial (causation and quantum would be heard at a later date, should that have been necessary), His Honour Judge Davey QC heard evidence from eight serving and retired police officers for the Defendant, as well as from the Police Federation Representative for the Claimant. The Claimant’s witness statement stood as her evidence.

In dismissing the Claimant’s claims, HHJ Davey QC held that the investigation was lawful, proportionate and did not constitute either a breach of the Data Protection Act or a misuse of the Claimant’s private information. He was impressed by the officers’ evidence, and found that the Defendant was duty bound to investigate the misconduct engaged in this case.

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