UK

Metropolitan Police apologise over gay abuse investigation

Scotland Yard Image copyright PA

A gay man has won a nine-year legal battle with the Metropolitan Police after the force admitted it failed to investigate alleged homophobic abuse.

David Cary, 54, sued the force for discrimination, claiming it did not properly investigate allegations he was verbally abused by a neighbour in 2007.

It amounted to discrimination on the grounds of his sexuality, he claimed.

The case was due to be decided in the Court of Appeal, but Scotland Yard has apologised and agreed to compensation.

Mr Cary, from west London, said the Met had "shamelessly dug their heels in for nine years", and the delays amounted to a "travesty of justice and professionalism".

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was a "landmark" legal case.

Neighbour's abuse

The case dated back to February 2007, when Mr Cary told police he had been verbally abused by a neighbour as he rode home on his bicycle.

According to Mr Cary, he was called a "poof" and a "queer". However, officers investigated the report and decided to take no further action.

He then lodged a complaint about the way the force had treated his report - which officers dismissed.

Mr Cary appealed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) twice. On his first appeal, the force was asked to reinvestigate but the second time his complaint was rejected.

He began legal action against both the Met and the IPCC in January 2010.

The IPCC agreed to settle the case in July 2012 but the Met continued to defend the claim.

The case was due to be heard in the Court of Appeal on Monday.

However, Scotland Yard offered to settle the case and issued an apology before the hearing - more than nine years after the original incident.

'I lost nine years'

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today, Mr Cary said he was angry, annoyed and frustrated about how he had been dealt with.

"I wasn't asking for preferential treatment, I was just asking to be treated like anybody else," he said.

Mr Cary was told the situation was a neighbour dispute of "minor words" but said he "sort of lost nine years of my life", adding that the compensation would not give that back.

The force admitted Mr Cary's original complaint could have been handled "more professionally and sympathetically", saying there had been "shortcomings" in the investigation.

It said the force would "learn and implement" lessons from the case, but added that it had "dramatically changed" how it investigated homophobic crime.

However, Mr Cary said the Met had "tolerated" homophobic abuse due to its failure to investigate the allegations.

He told Today he found it "very hard to believe" anything had dramatically changed.

"I felt belittled and treated like a second-class citizen. I felt they prolonged the case in the hope of wearing me down.

"Without the best legal representation and campaigning support that I had, they might have managed it," he added.

Jane Deighton, Mr Cary's solicitor, welcomed the resolution of this case.

She called for an end to "knee-jerk reaction into defensive mode when civilians bring police misconduct to the attention of the service".