SCOTLAND’S biggest force faces allegations its officers “abused, threatened with violence and assaulted” a man being driven to a station, following a Supreme Court ruling.
Kevin Ruddy, 33, has won a key stage in his eight-year, £10,000 civil action against the office of chief constable at Strathclyde Police and the Lord Advocate.
He claims the force breached article three of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits torture and inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, through the alleged assault.
The second part of his case is that both Strathclyde Police and the Lord Advocate failed to effectively investigate his complaint.
Mr Ruddy was arrested on 5 September, 2004, and taken to Perth police station.
The next day two officers from Strathclyde arrived to take him to Partick station by car. He alleges he was abused en route.
Mr Ruddy’s lawyer, Tony Kelly, said: “He alleges he was punched by police officers and abused by them.
“He is suing for £10,000.
“That’s for the assault and the lack of an independent aspect to the investigation.”
Article six of the ECHR, which protects fair trial, gives people the right to an independent and impartial tribunal. Mr Ruddy’s complaint was investigated by a branch of Strathclyde Police.
Following his release, Mr Ruddy decided to take legal action against the then chief constable of Strathclyde, William Rae, and applied for legal aid.
Strathclyde Police treated the application as a complaint, an investigation was launched and a report was submitted to the procurator fiscal.
However, in June 2005, then Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini wrote to Mr Ruddy saying the evidence did not justify criminal proceedings.
He launched a civil action instead, but lost in the sheriff court and appealed to the Court of Session, which found the case to be incompetent on points of law, partly because of the complexity of the claim.
“One pursuer cannot sue two or three defenders for separate causes of action, and put into his summons a conclusion for a lump sum, and then by means of putting in the words ‘jointly and severally, or severally’ as the case may be, ask the court to split up this lump sum of damages,” Lord Clarke said in Edinburgh.
However, this view was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court judges in London.
Lord Hope wrote: “Lord Clarke was right to refer to the need to avoid undue complexity and to keep good order in litigation.
“But the pleadings in this case are not unduly complex, and good order in litigation favours the two claims being heard together.”
He referred the case back to the inner house of the Court of Session, in Edinburgh, which is now compelled to hear the appeal.
Mr Kelly said that is where it should have been heard in the first place.
“I’m staggered it’s taken so long - two years - to get back to where we were.
“I’m disappointed we’ve had this delay but looking forward to seeing the case through.”