PC Rathband case verdict - Northumbria Police statement

Northumbria Police Chief Constable Steve Ashman.
Northumbria Police Chief Constable Steve Ashman.

The Chief Constable for Northumbria Police has said that the Force is 'content' with the judge's findings, after the family of PC David Rathband lost their High Court negligence claim against his former employers.

The late traffic policeman was blasted twice and left for dead by gunman Raoul Moat just minutes after the maniac had phoned 999 to say he was hunting for police. His siblings brought the claim, saying if senior officers had warned PC Rathband, he would not have been sat stationary in his patrol car on a prominent Newcastle roundabout above the A1. But Mr Justice Males, sitting at the Moot Hall in Newcastle, has ruled that the claim has failed.

Reacting to the news, Northumbria Police's Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: "We are content with the judge’s response to the actions of the police commander that night. This has been a sad and difficult case for all concerned. It was a tragic incident which occurred five and a half years ago and our thoughts have always been with David and his immediate family.

"The judge has stated that Moat was a 'resourceful and determined criminal and David Rathband was desperately unlucky to be the victim of his cruelty and hatred'. Moat's actions created an unprecedented situation for Northumbria Police but the judge has recognised that operational officers have to make high pressure, complex decisions in tight time scales and in doing so they must focus not only on officer safety but on the safety and welfare of the public. To protect the public was the primary role of the police commander that night.

"The judge, following detailed scrutiny of the events of that night, over a two week period, has stated that it was emphatically clear that PC Rathband had not been let down by Northumbria Police. We continue to wish David's family the best for the future and David will always remain in the heart of Northumbria Police."

Meanwhile, former Chief Constable Sue Sim, who led the hunt for Raoul Moat, said: "There are no winners or losers in this tragic episode. My thoughts, prayers and best wishes remain with Kath and their two children together with the other close family members who have been affected by these terrible events.

"David was acting in the best tradition of policing when he was brutally shot by Raoul Moat. The judge has acknowledged that the primary function of British policing remains the safety of the public and that officers are sometimes placed at a higher level of risk as a consequence. I was and remain honoured to have led my officers during what was a most difficult and testing time for everyone public and police."