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Judge finds no contributory negligence on part of victim Donald MacLeod

Cyclist Donald MacLeod, who spent six weeks in a coma and was left with permanent disabilities from severe head injuries sustained when he was hit by a police car answering a 999 call in London, has won his High Court case against the Metropolitan Police.

Judge Martin McKenna ruled out contributory negligence on the part of Mr MacLeod, who was cycling home to Stoke Newington in March 2010 when he was struck by the police car on Southgate Road in Islington, reports The Guardian.

The 63-year-old father of three, a former education journalist at that newspaper who went on to become head of communications at the Russell Group of universities, needs 24-hour care as a result of the injuries he suffered.

The judge noted that at the time of the collision on a mini-roundabout, he was wearing a helmet and high visibility jacket and had working lights on his bicycle.

The Met had insisted that Mr MacLeod, whom the court heard had enjoyed two small glasses of wine with a colleague before heading home, cycled out of Northgate Road or straight from the pavement into the path of the police car at the junction with Southgate Road.

But the judge found that contrary to Metropolitan Police policy, the driver, who was on his way with colleagues to a shooting in Hackney, entered the roundabout at a speed – 55mph – that meant he could not stop in time to avoid hitting Mr MacLeod.

"The manner of his driving plainly fell below an acceptable standard and he failed to drive with such care and skill as was reasonable in all the circumstances," he said.

"His speed was high and consistent with a desire to get to the rendezvous point as his priority rather than safely.

"The reality is that he would have arrived at the rendezvous point within the expected response time if he had driven to the speed limit. But for the breach of duty, the injury to the claimant would not have occurred."

The case was brought on Mr MacLeod’s behalf by his wife, Barbara, who is seeking more than £1 million in damages to help pay for his care at the family’s new home at Inveresk, near Edinburgh.

She told The Guardian: “Don's care is now secure and we don't have to worry about that in the long term. It has been such a difficult time."

Her husband cannot speak, although he is able to communicate by smiling, nodding and shaking his head. He also needs to be moved in a wheelchair, but Mrs MacLeod says he "is as good as he has been" since that day that changed their lives.

"I threw my arms round him when we got the message [about the court’s decision],” she said.

“I don't know if he fully grasped how important the announcement is. He is physically well, getting some good physiotherapy and getting stronger all the time. Hopefully a change in his drug regime will help with communication."

She continued: "We are getting out a lot, he enjoys being out and I am hoping to get an adapted vehicle so we don't have to use a taxi all the time," adding that soon they will be attending the ballet.

"We are beginning to do normal, everyday things," she concluded.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

22 comments

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KiwiMike [1298 posts] 3 years ago
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As a taxpayer I'm happy to see my money go to make this man's life better.

And I want to see my employees and their bosses - who clearly fail to manage force response policy - strung up by the nuts for causing this to happen.

All too often Police kill or maim innocent people while responding to crimes or calls for help. Their *first* obligation is to get there without harming themselves or others. No point speeding if you end up not arriving at all. An emergency elsewhere is zero excuse to endanger others.

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allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
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Good news for him. There's no winners here - the police driver made a massive error of judgement and will most likely lose his livelihood (and of course have the accident on his conscience) but obviously has gotten off far more lightly than the cyclist.

I've always been of the opinion that lights and sirens aided swift progress by getting other traffic out of the way as opposed to enabling high speeds - that said, had plod dawdled and taken their time to attend a firearms incident then they'd be criticised for that too - the guys who killed Lee Rigby may have stood around waiting for plod but what would they have done if they saw another squaddie - looking guy prior to police arrival?

I hope the payout eases the cyclist's situation, but again, there's no winners here.

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allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
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Maybe society needs to make a decision - reduce the expectation on police to arrive at incidents as quickly as possible (and thus risk a reduction in detections, and maybe more people injured / killed) but in return also significantly reduce the risk of innocent bods being injured by fast moving police veehickles.

With relatively minimal serious crime, and busy crowded and crappily surfaced roads, and an increase in distractions to pedestrians and civilian drivers from smartphones, headphones etc, perhaps the latter ought to be the preferred option.

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jacknorell [969 posts] 3 years ago
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A good outcome, with the guilty party held accountable.

Hope the money will really help the poor chap and his family.

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jova54 [676 posts] 3 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

Maybe society needs to make a decision - reduce the expectation on police to arrive at incidents as quickly as possible (and thus risk a reduction in detections, and maybe more people injured / killed) but in return also significantly reduce the risk of innocent bods being injured by fast moving police veehickles.

With relatively minimal serious crime, and busy crowded and crappily surfaced roads, and an increase in distractions to pedestrians and civilian drivers from smartphones, headphones etc, perhaps the latter ought to be the preferred option.

The telling cooment from the judge was that the vehicle would have arrived within the specified response time even if they had stuck to the speed limit.

A good result for the cyclist and his family. Hopefully also a good result for the future where the Police realise their duty of care is not just to their colleaugues and the victims of crime but also to the genearl public.

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jacknorell [969 posts] 3 years ago
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I've had dealings with the Met police as a victim of crime a couple of times... trust me, their duty of care to the victims comes a long way down their priority list!*

* With the exception of one brilliant officer, who unfortunately had a sisyphean task in getting anything done due to others' actions.

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Ush [932 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

The judge noted that at the time of the collision on a mini-roundabout, he was wearing a helmet and high visibility jacket and had working lights on his bicycle.

The only relevant part of the the previous is the presence of lights on the bicycle. The rest of it is folk-safety nonsense unsupported by any clear evidence.

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Ush [932 posts] 3 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

but what would they have done if they saw another squaddie - looking guy prior to police arrival?

Really the police should have rocket powered bulldozers, because supposing there were ebola-infected terrorists directing a rogue meteorite onto an orphanage? What then? Oh, and there were hackers and paedophiles involved too....

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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And if he was exercising his choice to not wear a silly helmet and hi viz he'd have got fuck all most likely.

Welcome to "safety" hell.

Oh and it seems this "driver" has got away with causing this completely avoidable collision?

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jacknorell [969 posts] 3 years ago
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Ush wrote:
Quote:

The judge noted that at the time of the collision on a mini-roundabout, he was wearing a helmet and high visibility jacket and had working lights on his bicycle.

The only relevant part of the the previous is the presence of lights on the bicycle. The rest of it is folk-safety nonsense unsupported by any clear evidence.

They judge may have attempted to highlight that the rider was safety-conscious, so unlikely to ride around in a way as to "shoot out from a side street" like the Met tried to make out.

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vbvb [619 posts] 3 years ago
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Great news.

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Simon_MacMichael [2494 posts] 3 years ago
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Ush wrote:

The only relevant part of the the previous is the presence of lights on the bicycle. The rest of it is folk-safety nonsense unsupported by any clear evidence.

If the judge used the fact that Mr MacLeod was following what are after all two recommendations of the Highway Code as part of his rejection of the Met's claim of contributory negligence, it's entirely relevant.

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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Recommendations not "law"?

It's amazing how brainwashing can be done so easily.

The police have always been scum, they've proven it time and time again, especially with their obsession with "cyclists" and are proving it here again.

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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jacknorell wrote:
Ush wrote:
Quote:

The judge noted that at the time of the collision on a mini-roundabout, he was wearing a helmet and high visibility jacket and had working lights on his bicycle.

The only relevant part of the the previous is the presence of lights on the bicycle. The rest of it is folk-safety nonsense unsupported by any clear evidence.

They judge may have attempted to highlight that the rider was safety-conscious, so unlikely to ride around in a way as to "shoot out from a side street" like the Met tried to make out.

If they really tried to make that out it shows their vindictive hidden agenda oh and they've been watching too many "alleycat" videos and not enough of motorists who "shoot out from a side street" as and when.

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Ush [932 posts] 3 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
Ush wrote:

The only relevant part of the the previous is the presence of lights on the bicycle. The rest of it is folk-safety nonsense unsupported by any clear evidence.

If the judge used the fact that Mr MacLeod was following what are after all two recommendations of the Highway Code as part of his rejection of the Met's claim of contributory negligence, it's entirely relevant.

Makes sense. Time to get that safety woo out of the Highway Code then
http://www.cyclistsdefencefund.org.uk/cycle-helmets-and-contributory-neg...

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allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
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northstar wrote:

Recommendations not "law"?

It's amazing how brainwashing can be done so easily.

The police have always been scum, they've proven it time and time again, especially with their obsession with "cyclists" and are proving it here again.

Nice, balanced and well reasoned critique of the nation's law enforcement officers there mate.

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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Oh look, another one on the "attack", i guess you've been suckered into.

I'm not your "mate" either.

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oozaveared [934 posts] 3 years ago
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KiwiMike wrote:

As a taxpayer I'm happy to see my money go to make this man's life better.

And I want to see my employees and their bosses - who clearly fail to manage force response policy - strung up by the nuts for causing this to happen.

All too often Police kill or maim innocent people while responding to crimes or calls for help. Their *first* obligation is to get there without harming themselves or others. No point speeding if you end up not arriving at all. An emergency elsewhere is zero excuse to endanger others.

I think he deserves the compensation. The police driver was negligent. But asvfor all the anti police crap that's nonsense. The driver was in the wrong but he was driving like that toward a shooting. Presumably to put himself in harms way on our behalf. The police like paramedics and the fire service are required to drive fast. We agree to that right? Their presence is required somewhere pretty ricky tick. The risk is that it can go wrong. In this case it did. The police need to pay compensation. Mr McLeod deserves his compensation. The police officer probably had night mares about it. It's shitty for everyone especially Mr McLeod. But if I am ever lying in the road after a collision. I still want that paramedic there as quick as he can be. I accept that there are risks involvedvin that. And if the paramedic makes a mistake and injures someone on his/ her way to do that. Then I hope the person gets compensation but I don't want the paramedic bad mouthed. My job doesn't involve me having to put my self in harm's way or take calculated risks to get somewhere quickly. I'm not about to pillotlry people that do when tjey mak a mistake.

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KiwiMike [1298 posts] 3 years ago
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oozaveared wrote:

I think he deserves the compensation. The police driver was negligent. But asvfor all the anti police crap that's nonsense. The driver was in the wrong but he was driving like that toward a shooting. Presumably to put himself in harms way on our behalf. The police like paramedics and the fire service are required to drive fast. We agree to that right? Their presence is required somewhere pretty ricky tick. The risk is that it can go wrong. In this case it did. The police need to pay compensation. Mr McLeod deserves his compensation. The police officer probably had night mares about it. It's shitty for everyone especially Mr McLeod. But if I am ever lying in the road after a collision. I still want that paramedic there as quick as he can be. I accept that there are risks involvedvin that. And if the paramedic makes a mistake and injures someone on his/ her way to do that. Then I hope the person gets compensation but I don't want the paramedic bad mouthed. My job doesn't involve me having to put my self in harm's way or take calculated risks to get somewhere quickly. I'm not about to pillotlry people that do when tjey mak a mistake.

I disagree entirely. As the judge said, the officer did not need to be doing the speed he was. I do not expect and society should not accept the police or other safety of life services to endanger the public whilst carrying out their duties. They are trained and authorised to exceed the speed limit under very specific circumstances. This officer chose to break the rules. I see others doing so every day outside my house, living close to a highways base. It is not 'anti police crap' to insist they obey their own procedures. The risk of one persons injury or criminal event does not translate to innocent bystanders under any circumstances. As with corruption, we too-frequently have officers ignoring the manual on response driving. It's a job. They choose it. It has procedures and standards. In this case a judge has found they were not met. I have zero time for hero worship condoning needless risk to others. NO emergency justifies risking the lives of others. None.

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Stumps [3480 posts] 3 years ago
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I dont know the area and i've never driven these specific roads either however all i want to say is that 55mph seems excessive for entering a roundabout thats positioned in a built up area.

We do have roundabouts where 55 is totally acceptable but they are generally on open highways / motorways etc where you can enter the roundabout at that speed and faster.

Over the last 27 years of driving Police cars i've noticed that there are a lot of officers who feel that once they have this "bubble" around them of blues and two's that they become better drivers - not the case i'm afraid. Our force does yearly checks on drivers ability to drive at speed and those that fail have their authority removed and must retake their Police driving test.

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Eebijeebi [102 posts] 2 years ago
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Airzound wrote:

So pleased the Filth lost this case. Hope the cash now helps this guy and close family who have to look after him.

I imagine 'the filth' love you too.

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Eebijeebi [102 posts] 2 years ago
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northstar wrote:

Oh look, another one on the "attack", i guess you've been suckered into.

I'm not your "mate" either.

Add another one - and no, I'm not your mate either.