An award-winning journalist who suffered life-shattering injuries when knocked from his bicycle by a police car has won the right to very substantial damages from the UK's biggest force after a judge ruled that the driver had put speed before safety.
Donald MacLeod, aged 63, suffered severe head injuries when the car – which was heading towards the scene of a shooting in London – struck him in March 2010. The former Guardian journalist was so badly injured that he was considered unable to manage his own affairs and relied on the care of others.
In upholding his claim against the Metropolitan Police, the judge said, "The police car was quite simply travelling too fast in poor lighting conditions and visibility and the driver simply failed to keep a proper lookout…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."
The car had been travelling at 55mph in a 30mph zone, and the judge concluded, "His speed was high and consistent with a desire to get to the rendezvous point as his priority rather than safety. 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 Mr MacLeod would not have occurred."
The judge rejected arguments that Mr MacLeod was partly to blame for the accident and said that he was convinced that he was not riding under the influence of alcohol. The amount of Mr MacLeod’s damages had yet to be assessed; however, given the severity of his injuries, his award was likely to run well into seven figures.