Babar Ahmad was subjected to violent assaults and religious taunts by police

Protest outside a court hearing for Babar Ahmad in London in May 2005
Protest outside a court hearing for Babar Ahmad in London in May 2005

The Metropolitan Police has agreed to pay £60,000 damages to IT analyst Babar Ahmad during a civil action hearing at the High Court which heard arresting officers subjected Tooting IT analyst Babar Ahmad to violent assaults and religious taunts.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is to investigate.

In her opening statement, Phillippa Kaufmann, counsel for Ahmad, told the court: ‘1. This is a claim for assault arising out of the Claimant’s arrest at his home in the early hours of 2 December 2003 by a number of the Defendant’s Territorial Support Group officers. Key officers in this case are:-

‘a. PS Davis – unit leader who briefed the officers involved in the assault and who was present during the course of some of the assaults;

‘b. PCs James Bowen, Cowley, Donohue and an officer who will be referred to as X. It is these four officers who perpetrated the assaults.

‘The reason for officer X’s anonymity is connected with similar fact evidence which the Claimant will adduce during the trial.

‘2. The Claimant’s case is that he was subjected to a prolonged and violent series of gratuitous assaults by punching, kneeing, stamping on his feet, deliberately manipulating handcuffs which had been applied to his wrists and by twice placing him in a neck hold that left him feeling that he could not breathe and was about to lose consciousness.

‘The Claimant’s case is that the Defendant’s officers perpetrated the assaults deliberately, that is in the knowledge that the amount of force they were using was excessive and not justified in the circumstances as they believed them to be.’

Following the court settlement on Wednesday, Babar Ahmad’s family issued the following statement: ‘Five years ago, in December 2003, Babar Ahmad was released from police custody. He was battered and bruised from head to toe. He was limping and we could not even embrace him due to his injuries.

‘In our fight for justice, many doors were slammed in our faces. Firstly by the Police, then the Independent Police Complaints Commission, then the Police tribunal which praised those very officers for their bravery.

‘Today The Metropolitan Police have finally admitted full liability for the brutal assault their officers carried out on Babar on 2nd December 2003.

‘The Metropolitan Police admit Babar did not resist arrest. They also admit they repeatedly punched him and stamped on his feet.

‘They have admitted holding him twice in a dangerous head-lock which made him fear for his life.

‘The Police even admit that they did indeed place Babar in the Muslim prayer position and taunted him, “Where is your God now?”

‘These words alone were a direct attack not just on Babar, but on every single Muslim in the world.

‘Despite the Police admitting that their officers carried out this brutal, islamophobic attack, they have refused to offer any form of apology for their actions.

‘This shows their arrogance and refusal to express any remorse.

‘Before this day, the Police had repeatedly accused Babar of lying. These admissions have exonerated Babar and prove that they were the ones who were lying.

‘There are still many unanswered questions and we call for an independent inquiry.

‘For example, what happened to the bags of evidence that have miraculously “disappeared”, including all the officers’ notebooks and interview transcripts?

‘We feel that there has been a cover-up.

‘It took five years and only after court proceedings began did they admit fault.

‘This is something the IPCC should also be investigated for, so that no one should ever have to face the brutal treatment that Babar received at the hands of the Police.’

A statement by Babar Ahmad said: ‘After five years of denial, I am pleased today that the Metropolitan Police has accepted that its officers subjected me to horrific abuse on the night of 2nd December 2003.

‘This abuse took place not in Guantanamo Bay or a secret torture chamber but in Tooting, South London.

‘I would like to thank my family and all those who have supported me in my campaign for justice. I would especially like to thank my legal team who have spent many years fighting for me.

‘I can now put this incident behind me and focus on my fight to prevent my extradition to the US.

‘I hope that the UK Government will too realise that it has been wrong to detain me in prison without trial for five years.

‘Let this case be a lesson to other victims of abuse in the war on terror. The path to justice is long and difficult, but as long as you remain steadfast upon it, you will get there in the end.’

Bhatt Murphy Solicitors said in a statement: ‘In the face of overwhelming evidence the Commissioner has made an unprecedented admission that:

• Metropolitan officers subjected Mr Ahmad to a sustained and brutal beating occasioning him multiple injuries and despite Mr Ahmad offering no resistance whatsoever;

• An officer twice placed Mr Ahmad in a life threatening neck hold causing Mr Ahmad to feel that he was about to die; Officers openly mocked Mr Ahmad’s Islamic faith;

• Officers deliberately wrenched Mr Ahmad about by his handcuffs causing him excruciating pain;

• An officer grabbed Mr Ahmad’s testicles inflicting pain; and

• Officers assaulted and abused Mr Ahmad in his home, then in a police van and then in the yard at Charing Cross Police Station, long after his arrest.’

Despite the gravity of these acts the Commissioner has refused to apologise and he does not propose to take any action against those responsible.

He has offered to pay Mr Ahmad £60,000 in damages, in addition to his legal expenses, from police funds.

The agreed compensation includes aggravated and exemplary damages to reflect the shocking conduct of the Metropolitan Police as an institution as well as of the individual officers.

‘The Commissioner decided to take the extraordinary step of admitting liability when a pattern of similar allegations was uncovered against the same officers.

‘However when the Commissioner was compelled to disclose evidence in this regard his lawyers informed the Court that “a number of large mail sacks" had been “mislaid in the internal dispatch of the MPS”, containing what is believed to be yet further similar allegations.

‘Mr Justice Holroyde demanded further investigations to locate the missing mail sacks and the Commissioner responded by admitting liability.

‘The Commissioner has yet to confirm the current whereabouts of the mail sacks.

‘Earlier in the proceedings several officers including the supervising officer, refused to give evidence at trial on behalf of the Commissioner.’

Fiona Murphy, solicitor for Mr Ahmad of Bhatt Murphy said: ‘It is deeply concerning that the Commissioner is prepared to allow officers on his watch to violently abuse a member of the public with impunity.

‘The papers will be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for urgent consideration of criminal charges against the officers concerned and for an investigation as to whether events surrounding the mislaid mail sacks constitute evidence of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

‘The horrifying nature and volume of complaints against these officers should have provoked an effective response from the Metropolitan Police and the IPCC long ago.

‘Instead, it has fallen to Babar Ahmad to bring these proceedings to achieve public recognition of the wrong that was done to him.’