Ex-police officer and data breach victim loses court appeal, becomes liable for force’s costs

Despite successfully suing the Met, she may now end up homeless.

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A former Metropolitan police officer has lost a payout claim following an eight-year court battle to hold law enforcement accountable over the compromise of her data. 

Andrea Brown, who successfully sued the force, rejected a settlement proposal of £18,000 to put the case to rest outside of the courtroom. 

A court ruling then awarded her £9,000, but as reported by The Guardian, this means that she became liable to pay the Met's costs from the time the original settlement was made.

Speaking to the publication, the 53-year-old said the latest twist in the case could result in her becoming homeless. 

Brown was employed by the Met for 20 years and served from 1993 to 2013. In 2011, her father was diagnosed with a serious illness and both the former officer and her daughter traveled abroad for a period of time.

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The officer was also signed off with work-related stress and depression. Brown did inform her Police Federation representative of the trip, but not her station boss. 

In 2013, Brown discovered that after heading on the trip, a senior officer from her station had obtained information about her and her daughter from the National Border Targeting Centre by "citing an Act of Parliament which did not exist," according to the ex-officer.  

Flagrant abuse of data protection laws in this manner led Brown to sue the Met police and Greater Manchester police for breach of data protection, human rights, and the misuse of private information. 

Brown won her original case, with UK courts finding the law enforcement agencies guilty. The former officer was awarded damages and the police were told to pay her legal costs. 

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However, the agencies appealed the decision. 

"Their final offer exceeded the amount of damages I was awarded and the police argued that I should be made to pay THEIR legal fees as a consequence," Brown says on her CrowdJustice page. "I had rejected their offers to settle because they would not admit any wrongdoing and refused to discipline any of the officers who had illegally obtained personal information about me and my daughter."

The lawsuit was taken to High Court, where the judge ruled in the police force's favor. Now, at the Court of Appeal, the decision has been upheld. 

Brown has already sold two previous homes to pay her legal fees and will now be forced to pay the opposing side's legal costs. The amount has not been calculated but may be many thousands of pounds. 

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"Unfortunately, I have lost my appeal," Brown said. "The court ruled in favor of the police. The judgment was released today. As you can imagine, I am totally devastated and really struggling to come to terms with this decision."

A Met police representative told The Guardian that "the MPS admitted liability for claims concerning breaches of the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act, [...] a final judgment and ruling on damages is awaited from the court and expected in the near future, and therefore at this stage we will not be commenting further on the case."

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