Man receives £100,000 compensation after wrongful imprisonment

26 January 2020, 14:26

Police Scotland were forced to pay £100,000 in compensation
Police Scotland were forced to pay £100,000 in compensation. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A man who was wrongfully arrested and sent to prison has been awarded £100,000 in compensation from Police Scotland.

Gary Webb spent one night in a police cell and three nights in a jail in 2015 after being mistakenly identified as a suspect of a crime.

Despite showing officers evidence he was not the individual in question, the 60-year-old was still kept in Addiewell Prison.

Mr Webb, from Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway, explained to the Sunday Post how officers had his fingerprints and were aware he was the wrong man.

He said: "The officers didn't make mistakes in the course of their duties - they lied and tried to cover it up, and there's lots of evidence to prove this.

"I was at home with my wife then being held in cuffs with no-one believing who I was and facing the worst kind of criminal charges imaginable.

"I thought I was going insane. How could no-one believe I was me?

"I experienced things I should never have had to. I had to leave my work as my mental health was affected by everything."

Five Scotland Police officers were arrested but none faced prosecution
Five Scotland Police officers were arrested but none faced prosecution. Picture: PA

Mr Webb had no previous convictions but was arrested at his home after, he claimed, officers held a photo of the suspect next to his face and decided they were the same person.

The former timber yard manager showed the police his identification, including his passport and driving licence, but was still taken down to the station.

He was released without an explanation or an apology following his imprisonment.

Mr Webb contacted the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) after having his formal complaint rejected by an internal investigation.

Five officers were arrested and reported to the Crown Office, however none faced prosecution.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: "We recognise the significant impact this incident and our poor initial response had on Mr Webb and, following the conclusion of legal proceedings, will seek to discuss these matters with him and offer an unreserved apology.

"The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service instructed Pirc to investigate the circumstances and the COPFS has instructed there should be no criminal proceedings.

"Our officers and staff work with commitment and professionalism day in, day out, to provide a high quality policing service for the public.

"When learning opportunities are identified, Police Scotland is committed to supporting officers and staff who have acted in good faith, however we will not comment on internal misconduct matters."

Mr Webb's compensation was secured by Digby Brown Solicitors after the legal team successfully argued that Police Scotland's staff acted illegally in their arrest.

Gordon Dalyell, partner at the firm, said: "The arrest and continued detention of Mr Webb was nothing short of outrageous.

"The life of an innocent man was completely ruined because of the deliberate and malign actions of police officers who are meant to keep people safe.

"I would like to think an inquiry will occur in due course to ensure innocent people are not illegally detained and Police Scotland staff who act illegally will be held accountable."