South Wales Police pay £300,000 to settle O’Brien case

15 Sep 2016

In October, South Wales Police agreed to pay £300,000 to settle a claim for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office brought by Michael O’Brien, represented by Hickman & Rose partner Nogah Ofer.

Mr O’Brien spent 11 years in prison for the murder of Cardiff newsagent Philip Saunders before his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal. He claims damages for alleged police misconduct, including abuse in the police station, fabricated evidence, bullying and and manipulation of witnesses to procure false statements, and use of a co- accused’s confession which police knew was unreliable.

A case of this nature, alleging that officers dishonestly set up 3 young men on a murder charge knowing that they would receive life sentences if convicted, is almost unprecedented. Between them three defendants served over 33 years in prison.

Legal Background

Mr O’Brien, represented each time by Nogah Ofer, a partner at Hickman & Rose, had already won several stunning victories in a series of cases arising from his conviction.

In July 2004 he won a Court of Appeal case against the Assessor for Miscarraige of Justice compensation claims setting out he principles on which such awards should be made.

In April 2005, he won a House of Lords ruling that he could rely on evidence that a key South Wales officer in his case had been accused of similar misconduct involving fabricated admissions by four defendants in other criminal cases. This case is now the leading authority on civil similar fact evidence.

A further judicial review challenge against the Assessor on Mr O’Brien’s case, this time focusing on the amount awarded for 11 years’ loss of liberty, is to be heard by the High Court on 12 and 13 October 2006 and will again be the first challenge of its kind.



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