UK & World News
Murder Witness Sues Met Police Over Reward
A key witness in a high-profile murder case has told Sky News that he is suing the Metropolitan Police for not paying out on a reward offer.
The man who gave evidence in the trial over the shooting of unarmed police officer PC Patrick Dunne also said he lives in fear, after his identity was mistakenly released.
Speaking in a secret location the witness who we will call "John" (not his real name) told Sky News: "The police had told me that my name would never be released and that police were working in a unit of eight and not even other people in the police would know what they were doing.
"And going into the court case, my name was then given out. I then spoke to the police and said 'what the hell, my name's been given out'. And I was told 'oh we're sorry that shouldn't have happened'."
The killer, Gary Nelson, was convicted in 2006 for the shootings in 1993 of PC Dunne and a security guard William Danso. Nelson was described at the time as the most dangerous man in London.
John responded with information following a BBC Crimewatch appeal in 2001 which had offered a £100,000 reward, but he claims he only received £20,000.
He said: "We got told a year later that there's no money left in the pot. That was the answer. No letter, nothing and now I've taken legal action because of this."
A Met spokesman confirmed that the force had "received a claim" earlier this year and had no further comment at this stage.
John's claim comes as police launch a new national witness protection service. It will create a national specialist Protected Persons Service to replace schemes run by local forces.
It is hoped it will encourage more witnesses to come forward. Last year, just over one in four of collapsed prosecutions were as a result of witness or victim reticence to give evidence.
In 2009/10, 18% of witnesses who attended court to give evidence reported that they or their family felt intimidated at some point and 40% reported concerns about coming into contact with the defendant and their supporters.
Lawyer Simon McKay, an expert in witness protection, said: "I think the key thing in handling all of these cases is that once one recognises that someone falls within the category of someone who needs to be protected is to be as honest and transparent with that individual as you can be.
"Confidence is key here, expectations are key here and the failings of the police forces that have handled these sorts of cases in the past have always let the people down in relation to those two areas."
Victims' minister Helen Grant told Sky News witness protection needed improving.
She said: "It was patchy and inconsistent across the country, and this new system will have national quality standards.
"There will be much, much better co-ordination of service, more consistency, more accountability, and very importantly too, it will create more confidence in the criminal justice system to encourage witnesses, victims, informants, other vulnerable people to come forward."
John decided he could not go through with the commitment of witness protection, as it would mean cutting ties with some family members.
This is a dilemma many struggle with. The alternative is to live in fear of repercussions. Police have improved security at his home, but John said he will be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life.
Despite helping to convict a dangerous killer, John said he "regrets" giving evidence.
He told Sky News: "I'm not getting a driving licence, I will not give my name to the DVLA. I don't hold a bank account. The council don't know who lives in the property.
"It's not just me, my wife as well, if she's been left in the house and she hears something outside, she worries straight away.
"You would normally think 'oh maybe that's a fox, maybe that's a dog'. We don't. We think that's somebody, maybe, coming to get us."