Report about Met detective sergeant Gary Flood claimed there were strong grounds to believe he was dishonest and corrupt.
A police officer has been awarded Â£60,000 in damages in a high court judgment against the Times over an article which claimed that there were strong grounds to believe he was dishonest and corrupt.
Mrs Justice Nicola Davies awarded Gary Flood, a detective sergeant with the Metropolitan policeâ€™s extradition unit, Â£45,000 in a high court judgment published on Thursday to reflect his distress and anxiety, the damage to his reputation and the need for proper vindication.
Davies added another Â£15,000 to reflect the newspaperâ€™s conduct and â€œto serve as a deterrent to those who embark upon public interest journalism but thereafter refuse to publish material which in whole, or in part, exculpates the subject of the investigationâ€.
The article at the centre of Floodâ€™s high court libel action appeared in the Times and then on the Times Online website in June 2006. Headed â€œDetective accused of taking bribes from Russian exilesâ€ it read: â€œPolice are investigating the alleged sale to a security company of intelligence on the Kremlinâ€™s attempts to extradite opponents of President Putin.â€
After an inquiry, neither criminal nor disciplinary charges were brought against Flood, who returned to the unit when he was exonerated and, in September 2007, the Times was informed of the outcome of the investigation.
During lengthy legal proceedings, launched in May 2007, the supreme court said that publications up to 5 September, 2007, were protected by a defence of public interest privilege, but Times publisher Times Newspapers subsequently withdrew its appeal relating to website publication after that date.
Later, the newspaper abandoned its defence of justification, leaving Davies to assess damages in respect of publication on the website from September 5 2007 until October 21 2009.
In an earlier court hearing, counsel for the Times, Richard Rampton QC, described the failure to provide an update as a â€œmisjudgmentâ€.
However, in her judgment Davies disagreed. â€œIn my view, the course taken by the defendant goes beyond misjudgment, it represents a dogged refusal to take a course which was professional, responsible and fair,â€ she said.
â€œThe refusal, coupled with the manner in which the Times pursued its own investigation and sought details and documentation from the claimant, can properly be described as oppressive and high handed. It is conduct which serves to aggravate the award of damages.â€
Davies added: â€œIt is possible to pursue journalism said to be in the public interest and demonstrate consideration for the subject whose reputation may suffer in the event of publication.
â€œThe need for such consideration is particularly acute given the subjectâ€™s lack of redress.
â€œOnce it is known that there is material which exonerates, in whole or in part the subject of the journalistic investigation, consideration should be shown for the position of the subject by publishing exculpatory material.â€
She said that, on the facts of the case, no such consideration was demonstrated by the paperâ€™s publisher, News UK subsidiary Times Newspapers, towards Flood during the relevant dates.
â€œThe absence of consideration is compounded by the fact that the article published in June 2006 contained allegations which attacked the core of the claimantâ€™s character, personally and professionally,â€ she added.
â€œOf this experienced and responsible police officer, a recognised expert in his specialised field, it was being alleged that there were strong grounds to believe that he was dishonest, corrupt and acting in a manner which represented not only serious criminal conduct but a grave breach of the trust which had been placed in him.
â€œIn my view, following the conclusion of the police investigation, the claimant was entitled to expect the defendant to amend the article and to publish, at the very least, the outcome of the investigation.
â€œThe fact that for two further years the claimant had to live with the article, publicly detailing allegations of dishonesty and corruption, of itself, represents a need for proper vindication.â€
Police officer awarded Â£60,000 damages over Times article