12:07PM, Tuesday 26 September 2017
Thames Valley Police (TVP) has apologised for the death of a 39-year-old man from Slough who died after a drugs search in 2008.
Habib 'Paps' Ullah, of Arborfield Close, suffered a cardiac arrest and died on July 3 following a stop and search at a residential car park in Sharrow Vale, High Wycombe.
Since then his family, leading the Justice4Paps campaign, became embroiled in a nine-year battle for answers, during which two inquests were held.
The original 2010 inquest collapsed due to the revelation that police officers made changes to their statements, prompting an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation which found insufficient evidence for criminal charges against the five officers involved.
At Mr Ullah’s second inquest in March 2015, a verdict of ‘misadventure’ with a narrative attached was delivered by jurors.
They heard how Mr Ullah was repeatedly 'backslapped' and jabbed in the eye during his restraint by officers, who believed Mr Ullah was hiding crack cocaine in his mouth.
Jurors rejected an 'unlawful' killing conclusion but questioned officers’ level of force and said they should have considered alternatives, calling the situation ‘poorly managed’.
The IPCC found five officers had a case to answer for gross misconduct. At a TVP disciplinary hearing in June 2015, the officers were cleared of any wrongdoing by the force.
In July 2015, Mr Ullah’s family filed a civil claim for compensation against TVP and they say that a ‘considerable’ settlement, which they have chosen not to reveal, was agreed on earlier this month.
In a letter to Mr Ullah’s widow Mussrat Habib, TVP Deputy Chief Constable John Campbell expressed the ‘sincere regret’ of the force.
“The lessons from the incident have been taken on board and particularly so with regard to the training of Thames Valley Police officers,” he said.
In another statement, he acknowledges the ‘long and distressing process for all concerned.’
“Our thoughts remain with Mr Ullah’s family and friends,” he added.
“We are of a view that a further long protracted court case would not be in the interests of any of the parties involved, so we have chosen to settle outside of the court process.
“No amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one.”
Mr Ullah’s sister, Nasrit Mahmood, said: “For almost a decade, TVP has put my family through pain and hardship.
“We are pleased to be able to finally put this matter behind us and to move on with our lives.
“Nothing will bring back Habib but at least we know in our hearts we did everything we could to fight for him.”
Mr Ullah’s cousin Zia Ullah said: “We were determined to ensure that no stone was left unturned.
“Other families must not give up hope after a death like this. It is crucial you fight for the truth and ensure where possible, anyone responsible is held to account.”
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