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Man wrongfully arrested given £100k compensation by police

Gary Webb Image copyright Andrew Cawley
Image caption Gary Webb said police had gone to his house with an arrest warrant for a different person

A man who was wrongfully arrested and sent to prison on remand has been awarded £100,000 in compensation from Police Scotland.

In 2015 Gary Webb, from Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway, was handcuffed and spent a night in a police cell and three nights in prison.

The 60-year-old told The Sunday Post that police had his fingerprints and knew he was the wrong man.

He said: “My life has been trashed after this. Completely trashed.”

Mr Webb, who has no criminal convictions, was arrested at his home by detectives who had a warrant for a different person.

‘I thought I was going insane’

He said the officers held a photo of the suspect next to Mr Webb’s face and decided they were the same person.

Mr Webb showed them his passport, driving licence and photos around his home as proof of mistaken identity.

However, the detectives said they would need to take him to the police station and handcuffed him.

“I was at home with my wife then being held in cuffs with no-one believing who I was and facing the worst kind of criminal charges imaginable,” he said.

“I thought I was going insane. How could no-one believe I was me?”

He was taken to court and, after three nights in a cell at Addiewell Prison, he was released without any explanation or apology.

Image copyright Scottish Prison Service
Image caption Mr Webb was kept in a cell at Addiewell Prison for three days before being released

After his release, Mr Webb, a former timber yard manager, made a formal complaint for wrongful arrest but after two years this was rejected by an internal police investigation and recorded as a “quality of service issue”.

He then contacted the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) who ordered the arrest of five officers and reported them to the Crown Office over allegations of criminal neglect of duty and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Following a two-year investigation, the Crown Office said none of the five officers would face prosecution.

Mr Webb said: “I experienced things I should never have had to. I had to leave my work as my mental health was affected by everything.

“The Pirc did a fantastic job and left no stone unturned during its investigation, so without them and my own legal team I wouldn’t be where I am now.

“But Police Scotland and its behaviour has been utterly despicable.

“They clearly know of wrongdoing or they wouldn’t have paid damages.”

‘Unreserved apology’

In a statement to the BBC, Gordon Dalyell, a partner at Digby Brown Solicitors who represented Mr Webb, said: “The life of an innocent man was completely ruined because of the deliberate and malign actions of police officers who are meant to keep people safe.

“I would like to think an inquiry will occur in due course to ensure innocent people are not illegally detained and Police Scotland staff who act illegally will be held accountable.”

Police Scotland’s Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: “We recognise the significant impact this incident and our poor initial response had on Mr Webb and, following the conclusion of legal proceedings, will seek to discuss these matters with him and offer an unreserved apology.

“The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service instructed the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner to investigate the circumstances and the COPFS has instructed there should be no criminal proceedings.”

He added: “Our officers and staff work with commitment and professionalism day in, day out, to provide a high-quality policing service for the public.

“When learning opportunities are identified, Police Scotland is committed to supporting officers and staff who have acted in good faith, however we will not comment on internal misconduct matters.”


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