Court of Appeal rejects police argument that there is no misconduct where an officer uses unreasonable force in an honest belief that s/he is in danger

On 9 October 2020 the Court of Appeal gave important clarification of the test to be applied when determining whether police officers should be held personally accountable for their use of force. 

On 11 December 2005 armed police officer, W80 shot Jermaine Baker dead.  The Independent Office for Police Conduct directed that he should face a misconduct hearing to determine whether his honest, but mistaken, belief that his life was threatened was unreasonable.  W80 successfully challenged that decision before the Divisional Court who quashed the decision.  Fiona Murphy on behalf of Jermaine Baker’s family argued at first instance that the wording of the relevant standard of professional conduct and Code of Ethics were clear; officers are accountable for their use of force in all the circumstances.  The Court of Appeal has now accepted that argument and W80 will face proceedings for gross misconduct. 

Before the Court of Appeal Fiona Murphy was instructed by Michael Oswald of Bhatt Murphy solicitors and led by Phillippa Kaufmann of Matrix Chambers.

Judgment can be found here.

Read the full press release from INQUEST here.