Indemnity costs in police libel case

Claimant faces enormous costs bill following failure to accept payment in

Mr Justice Eady today awarded indemnity costs to Associated Newspapers for their successful defence of the libel claim brought by Christopher Miller, the police officer who supervised the investigation into false claims that Neil and Christine Hamilton had been involved in a gang rape at an Ilford council flat.


On 8 April 2005, after a 3-week trial, the judge dismissed the claim by Mr Miller, currently a superintendent in Hertforshire. Mr Miller was at the time a Detective Chief Inspector in the Metropolitan Police. The judge held that he was amongst those responsible for important failures which led to the Hamiltons being arrested when this should never have happened.  He also found the claimant to have neglected his supervisory responsibilities in an earlier rape case.


After 1½ hours of argument today, the judge held that the claimant had acted unreasonably in turning down the Defendant’s December 2003 offer to pay him £10,000 in settlement. He had instead proceeded with the claim, putting the defendant at risk of costs estimated to amount to £3.2 million. The judge also accepted that the Defendant should be paid interest on costs at 1% above base rate from the time that costs were paid by ANL to their solicitors.


The Defendant’s costs were said to amount to some £1.25 million. The Metropolitan Police also successfully applied for its costs of producing relevant documents, estimated at £45,000, to be paid by the Claimant. The costs will be paid by the Police Federation, which funded the claim on a Conditional Fee Arrangement.


The claimant’s application for permission to appeal against the judge’s decision on the merits was refused.


Mark Warby QC and Adam Speker from 5RB and William McCormick (instructed by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain) acted for Associated Newspapers.


A 5RB case summary of the ruling will appear shortly.