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Witness 'put at risk' given payout

A teenage court witness was given a £600,000 payout by the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police after he was put at risk, it has been reported.

The boy was promised anonymity to give evidence about a violent gang attack but his details were inadvertently given to gang members, the BBC reported. The payout, awarded in 2008, is thought to be one of the largest of its kind and came as the family of three had to be moved for their protection.

A CPS spokesman said: "This payment relates to a case dating from four years ago where information was passed to the defence which led to concerns about the safety of a young witness and their family, so that they had to be provided with protective measures.

"The CPS recognised that its actions in this case fell below our accepted standard and, together with the Metropolitan Police Service, reached an agreed settlement of damages and an apology with the parties concerned. We regret that on this occasion we did not provide the support which is normally available to witnesses."

A Met spokesman added: "The Metropolitan Police Service aims to always provide victims and witnesses with the support they require. When we get it wrong we acknowledge it with those involved and if appropriate provide compensation."

The BBC reported that the family were relocated into the witness protection scheme after being threatened once details of the boy's identity were disclosed.

It is believed the family launched legal action against the CPS and Met for psychiatric damage, lost earnings and disruption to their lives. They paid damages totalling £550,000, with the CPS paying £350,000, and also paid the family's £50,000 legal costs, the BBC reported.

Solicitors Bhatt Murphy, who acted for the family, issued a statement from them in which they said they had suffered three years of "unbearable pain".

It read: "In 2005 when this incident occurred we were a hard working, law-abiding family with children. Despite our best intentions to help the police by doing what we thought was the right thing to help secure convictions against a violent gang, we were let down to the degree that our whole lives were turned upside down and our trust in the entire legal system was betrayed.

"We were left with no other option than to leave our homes, careers, families, friends and in BXH's case his education, without even being able to say goodbye. The children were uprooted from their schools and whisked away without an opportunity to explain: the trauma and upset this caused is beyond words."


From Belfast Telegraph