Former police officer wins £840,000 compensation after 'stitch-up'
Sultan Alam was racially abused by colleagues then framed for a crime he did not commit after he started suing Cleveland force
, Monday 16 April 2012 14.33 BST
An Asian former police officer who was racially abused by colleagues at Cleveland police then set up and jailed for a crime he did not commit has accepted compensation from the force of more than £800,000.
It is believed to be one of the largest claims against a police force in England and Wales.
Sultan Alam, 49, lost his marriage, health, reputation and career as a result of the actions of several officers from the force. He was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 months in 1996 for conspiracy to steal motor parts. Alam, from Middlesbrough, served nine months in jail and the conviction was overturned by the court of appeal in 2007.
On Monday, Alam was awarded damages of £838,363 in a judgment at the court with a further £3,065, plus costs.
Earlier this year, Cleveland police admitted malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office during a hearing at Leeds crown court. The trial heard Alam was "stitched up" by several of his colleagues, who were never tried before a crown court. Three have since left the force, but one remains as a serving constable.
He was framed after he started to sue the force for racial discrimination following a series of incidents, culminating in a Ku Klux Klan poster being left on his desk.
During his time in prison, he was confronted by a group of up to eight inmates, one armed with a knife and said he felt "on edge all the time".
Alam said he found it difficult to comprehend how his colleagues could collude in a "sophisticated, deliberate and malicious act" against him when all he was trying to do was to be treated like an equal.
The Crown Prosecution Service subsequently decided that four officers should be charged with criminal offences over allegedly framing him. All were cleared in 2004, but one later admitted two offences arising from the case at a disciplinary hearing.
Judge Andrew Keyser QC described at an earlier hearing the "appalling" conduct of the officers that almost defies belief, adding that none of the officers involved has ever answered for his conduct in any meaningful way.
Alam said he had been fighting for justice for 17 years and it was not about the money.
His claim for damages was on the basis that he was likely to have retired at the rank of superintendent or above had his career not been interrupted. However, in January, temporary Chief Superintendent Ian Richards told the hearing there was no evidence he would have achieved a rank higher than sergeant, as he had only passed his sergeant exams.
Alam said on Monday this claim was "insulting". The higher damages claim reflected the likelihood that his career would have progressed above the rank of sergeant.
He said: "Never in all those 17 years did I think for one moment that it would take this long. That is just as well. The only thing that drove me all this time was simply the need to publicly restore my name simply because it was tarnished, very deliberately in public."
"The court can only compensate with an award of damages – but this last 17 years has never been about the money. No amount of money can even begin to compensate me and my children for what we have been through. This has all been about this things that don't have a price tag attached – justice, honour and dignity but most of all the right of any individual to be treated as an equal."
Alam said he has been subject to covert surveillance and last week challenged an individual who was taking photographs of him and allegedly departed in a marked police vehicle. He has made a complaint to the force via its solicitors.
He added that the worst element aside from the damage to his career and reputation has been the effect on his family and personal life – he divorced in 2002 but has been able to rebuild his relationship with his two daughters.