MOSCOW, December 19 (RAPSI) - London’s High Court of Justice awarded GBP 60,000 in damages Thursday to a police detective that sued The Times for libel over a 2006 article accusing him of having accepted “bribes from Russian exiles” in exchange for information on Russian extradition requests, according to court documents obtained by RAPSI.
In June 2006, an article written by investigative journalist Michael Gillard was published by The Times in print and online featuring a host of allegations. Among other things, the article claimed that: Scotland Yard was investigating claims that a British security company with wealthy Russian clients had paid a police officer working with the extradition unit for sensitive information; anti-corruption detectives were examining client account documents belonging to London-based security firm ISC Global; over the years, ISC Global had monitored efforts by Russia to extradite certain individuals on charges relating to fraud and tax evasion; an informant had been paid GBP 20,000 by the firm; and Gary Flood was under investigation – his home and office having already been raided.
In May 2007, Flood sued for libel.
Thursday’s judgment states that a directorate of the Metropolitan Police Service launched an investigation into allegations of corrupt practices attributed to Flood, and that the investigation was the result of correspondence from a Times journalist.
In December 2006, the report concluded that no evidence could be found to support the assertion that Flood had divulged any confidential information, for pay or otherwise. The report concluded: “Consequently there are no recommendations made as to criminal or discipline proceedings in relation to this matter.”
The following September, Gillard was told about the outcome of the investigation by the Senior Investigating Officer that had completed the report. However, the Times website was not updated to reflect the investigation’s outcome until October 2009.
Prior to October 2009, the only amendment made to the article was the inclusion of a note stating that the article was subject to a legal complaint, but without reference to the actual complaint.
In October 2009, a note was added stating that Flood had sued for libel, and that the proceedings were still underway, Flood disputed any truth to the allegations. The note added that Flood had resumed his duties with the extradition squad.
Thursday’s judgment states: “In my view, following the conclusion of the police investigation the claimant was entitled to expect the defendant to amend the article and to publish, at the very least, the outcome of the investigation. The fact that for two further years the claimant had to live with the article, publicly detailing allegations of dishonesty and corruption, of itself, represents a need for proper vindication.”
The judge noted that The Times was aware that it was obligated to publish the result of the police inquiry but, “[f]or reasons, which have never properly been identified, The Times refused to act responsibly.” The court added that “such conduct cannot represent responsible journalism.”
Flood was awarded GBP 45,000 to “reflect the distress, anxiety and suffering of the claimant, the damage to his reputation and the need for proper vindication,” and an additional GBP 15,000, “to represent the aggravation of those damages by reason of the conduct of the defendant and to serve as a deterrent to those who embark upon public interest journalism but thereafter refuse to publish material which in whole, or in part, exculpates the subject of the investigation.”