Force to face more claims

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A POLICE force is facing four further damages claims by other people linked to a case in which a solicitor was wrongfully arrested.

Cleveland Police awarded a £500,000 damages payout to law-firm partner James Watson last week after he was arrested four years ago on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and accused of asking witnesses to change their statements. It followed his involvement in a Hartlepool kidnap and blackmail case from a decade ago.

But it has now been revealed that four others are now seeking damages from the force after being linked to the same case.

The force – then headed by sacked chief constable Sean Price and his deputy Derek Bonnard – has since apologised to Mr Watson.

It is believed that two other people have lodged formal claims, while solicitors acting for a further two have written to signal their intentions to sue.

Cleveland’s newly-elected Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said in a statement: “I am aware of the interest in this issue but understand that legal proceedings have commenced therefore it is impossible to comment at this time. I hope that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will publish the report which will give a greater public understanding.”