Metropolitan police pays Muslim man £60,000 damages over 'serious attack'
Babar Ahmad was subjected to prolonged, repeated assaults and religious insults during arrest in south London, high court hears
Matthew Taylor and Rachel Williams | March 18, 2009
The Metropolitan police today agreed to pay £60,000 damages to a British Muslim after a high court admission that officers had subjected him to "serious, gratuitous and prolonged" attack.
The court was told that Babar Ahmad, who is accused of raising funds for terrorism, had been punched, kicked and throttled during his arrest by officers from the force's territorial support group in December 2003.
The Met had repeatedly denied the claims, saying officers had used reasonable force during the arrest.
However, lawyers for the force's commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, today admitted at the high court that Ahmad had been the victim of gratuitous and sustained violence at his home in Tooting, south-west London.
"The commissioner has today admitted that his officers subjected Babar Ahmad to grave abuse tantamount to torture during his arrest," Ahmad's solicitor, Fiona Murphy, said outside the court.
During the hearing, it emerged that the Met had lost "a number of large mail sacks" containing details of other similar allegations against the officers who assaulted Ahmad.
Murphy said the few documents that had not been mislaid should have triggered a thorough investigation.
"The horrifying nature and volume of complaints against these officers should have provoked an effective response from the Metropolitan police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) long ago," she said.
"Instead, it has fallen to Babar Ahmad to bring these proceedings to achieve public recognition of the wrong that was done to him."
She said other crucial documents relating to the case were also lost.
They included all the officers' contemporaneous notebooks and the taped recording of an interview with the senior officer in the case.
Murphy added: "The papers will be referred to the director of public prosecutions for urgent consideration of criminal charges against the officers concerned and for an investigation as to whether events surrounding the mislaid mail sacks constitute evidence of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."
During his arrest, Ahmad was punched, kicked and throttled, the court heard.
Officers stamped on the 34-year-old's feet and repeatedly punched him in the head before he was forced into the Muslim prayer position and they shouted: "Where is your God now? Pray to him."
After a sustained attack, he was forced into the back of a police van, where he was again beaten and punched before being put in a "life-threatening" neck hold and told: "You will remember this day for the rest of your life."
At one stage, one of the officers grabbed his testicles and he was also deliberately wrenched by his handcuffs – a technique known to cause intense pain.
Outside the court, Ahmad's brother-in-law, Fahad Ahmad, read out a statement on his behalf in which he said he was pleased the police had finally admitted what had happened.
"This abuse took place not in Guantánamo Bay or a secret torture chamber but in Tooting, south London," the statement said.
"The path to justice is long and difficult but, as long as you remain steadfast upon it, you will get there in the end."
Ahmad has been in detention since he was rearrested in 2004 after a request from the US government over claims he helped raise money to fund terrorist campaigns.
The court heard that no evidence had been produced against Ahmad, and he had never been charged with any offence.
He is now fighting extradition to the US in the European courts.
An IPCC investigation in 2007 ended with no action being taken against any officer.