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Defamation claim against the police

A defamation claim against the police is often coupled with claims for breach of privacy and misuse of private information. The reason for this is that in most cases, police investigations are private matters in the sense that the individual questioned or investigated is considered innocent until proven guilty.

The fact that an individual is being named as a suspect, formally or informally, could give rise to a defamation claim against the police, should the investigation result with no further action taken against the suspect. In high profile cases, which attract a degree of media attention, it is inevitable that as a result of the publication of the suspect’s arrest, the media will take steps that are likely to infringe the suspect’s right to private life.

For example, if the media publishes the suspect’s name or if the suspect is being chased by the press or being followed by paparazzi, the result is likely to be an infringement of the suspect’s right to public life as well as harming the suspect’s good reputation.

If it can be shown, on balance of probabilities, that the details of the suspect’s arrest were leaked by the police, then a potential claim could arise against the police for defamation, breach of privacy and misuse of private information and such claim may result in the police having to pay substantial damages to the innocent suspect.

Defamation claim against the police
Title
The case of Selvaratnam Suresh v Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis
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