Pc fails in bid to sue police force

Northumbria Police Constable Christopher Pearson outside Newcastle Crown Court.
Northumbria Police Constable Christopher Pearson outside Newcastle Crown Court.
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A POLICE officer has failed in a bid to sue his force after being involved in a major car crash.

Pc Christopher Pearson, who was based at Houghton Police Station, had blamed the accident on a breach of duty by his employer, Northumbria Police, as he claimed a bald tyre had caused the accident.

Northumbria Police Constables Emma Wilkinson and Christopher Pearson outside Newcastle Crown Court.'They were the passenger and driver of a patrol car which was involved in a crash in August 2006 in Hetton where both of them were injured.

Northumbria Police Constables Emma Wilkinson and Christopher Pearson outside Newcastle Crown Court.'They were the passenger and driver of a patrol car which was involved in a crash in August 2006 in Hetton where both of them were injured.

But in his detailed judgement report, Judge Christopher Walton said: “In all the circumstances, I am not persuaded that the wear on the tyre had any causative effect.

“The accident happened because at a high speed on a slight bend and incline (Pc Pearson) made some misjudgement which led to a loss of control of the car.

“I consider the collision would have happened anyway, whether the tyre was worn or not.”

The officer, who will not be appealing, now faces a bill running into thousands of pounds to pay for the legal costs involved in the case.

The final amount due has yet to be established, but a £10,000 interim payment was ordered, plus six per cent interest over the base rate.

The crash happened when Pc Pearson and colleague Pc Emma Wilkinson were heading back to the station from incidents in Penshaw and Easington Lane, when they noticed a suspicious vehicle and began to follow it.

This continued for three miles and at one point the target vehicle drove directly towards the two constables.

They eventually came to Front Street, South Hetton, County Durham, where at speeds of about 90mph, Pc Pearson lost control of his vehicle, which struck the kerb and rolled over up to six times.

As a result of the crash, which happened in August 2006, Pc Pearson suffered serious back pain, stiffness in his neck and an injury to his right knee.

Pc Wilkinson, who at the time was just weeks away from getting married, also suffered a serious back injury.

Evidence was given by two expert witnesses during the case on whether the tread of the tyre could have caused the car to come off the road.

Judge Walton accepted that at the collision there was evidence the car had a defective tyre and Pc Pearson was not to blame for this breach.

But he drew a distinction between whether or not that caused the crash.

He said: “The claimant has not simply to prove a breach of duty by his employer but that it was causative of his injury.

“Throughout the test remains that it is for the claimant to prove that but for the failure to conform with the duty the accident would have been avoided.

“If the court is satisfied that the accident would have happened anyway, the wear on the tyre was not causative.”

Daniel Edwards, defence for the force, said: “As a public body, they did all they could to avoid this process. They could not have done any more.”

After the judgement, a Northumbria Police spokesman said: “Northumbria Police considered there was no negligence on behalf of the force that caused this accident. We’re satisfied with the judge’s decision.”

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