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Waters v Commissioner of Police Metropolis, House of Lords

7 August 2000
The issues

The issue is whether a statement of claim by a Policewoman alleging that the Defendant had been negligent in failing for event of victimisation by fellow Officers raised in arguable case which should not have been struck out.

The facts

The Claimant had joined the met in 1987. In February 1998 whilst in Police residential accommodation she had been sexually assaulted by a fellow Officer. She alleged that the Defendant was to be treated as her employer and that in breach of his duty he had failed to deal properly with her complaint and had caused or permitted Officers to maliciously criticise, harass, victimise, threaten, assault and otherwise oppress her. Alternatively she alleged that the Defendant was precariously liable for the Officer’s act.

The decision

On the authorities it could not be said that it was plain and obvious that no issue of care could exist.

The Court of Appeal had decided against the Claimant on the basis that there were public policy reasons to why the claim should not be entertained and had followed Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire in finding that a duty of care was precluded in these circumstances. However, that case was conclusive. Failure to investigate the assault alone would not constitute a viable cause of action but her complaints went much wider and she was not in any event suing as a member of the public.

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