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News (Media Awareness Project) - UK: Judge Grants Anonymity To Police Officer Who Used Official
Title:UK: Judge Grants Anonymity To Police Officer Who Used Official
Published On:2011-09-20
Source:Evening Standard (London, UK)
Fetched On:2011-09-22 06:02:14

A Judge Today Granted Anonymity to a Police Officer Who Used Official
Records to Snoop on Dealers He Was Buying Drugs From.

The unprecedented order was made to protect a Scotland Yard officer
who claimed he had been using cannabis for more than ten years to
treat "nightmares and flashbacks."

He said he had been forced to turn to street dealers when his internet
source of "medicinal marijuana" was shut down in 2008.

He accessed the files of two people who had been supplying him with
the Class B drug apparently in order to "ensure his own personal safety."

He admitted five breaches of the Data Protection Act at City of
Westminster Magistrates' Court today. District Judge Howard Riddell
made a court order banning the publication of the officer's name -
which was displayed on public lists in the court building - as well as
his address, picture or anything that could identify him.

Carl Kelvin, prosecuting, said the offences had taken place between
October 2009 and February 2010.

"He conducted these searches because he was buying cannabis from these
men," he said. "As a result he was arrested. In interview, he
explained that while serving as a police officer he had been involved
in an incident involving firearms and this had led him to suffer
nightmares and flashbacks.

"He tried to treat himself with cannabis and found this very
successful. In 2008 his source of medical marijuana dried up and this
led to him purchasing it from street dealers.

"He knew they dealt in drugs and he wanted to access their personal
data both to ensure his own personal safety and find out the facts
about them."

The officer had since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress
disorder, he said. Dalia Naaman, defending, said the officer had
undergone a course of treatment and was now not using drugs.

"He was very concerned that he could be a victim of robbery or
violence and he did conduct a number of checks on these people," said
Ms Naaman.

"There will also inevitably be consequences in terms of his continuing
employment with the MPS."

The officer was fined UKP1,000 and ordered to pay UKP200 costs and a UKP15
victim surcharge.

The judge told him: "You let yourself down hugely because you betrayed
public confidence in you and betrayed your colleagues who have to
uphold the law in every way."
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