Essex Police in £70k payout to banker over rape claim
An ex-city banker has won nearly £70,000 in damages from police who named him in a "10 most wanted" list as an alleged rapist.
Anthony Crook, 37, from Clacton, was working in Dubai when his image was released by Essex Police in 2010.
He was not prosecuted, but the force said publication was in the public interest. A judge at the High Court disagreed and said it was not "necessary and proportionate".
Mr Crook was awarded £67,750.
Judge Deborah Taylor said sex offences carry a great stigma and the release of his image, name and allegation was a violation of his human rights when more could have been done to locate him first.
"Whilst the press release was to local media, no consideration was given to the realities of modern technology: firstly, the potential for information to spread across the internet, and secondly, the difficulty once spread in eradicating that," she told the court.
"The police lost control of the data."
Mr Crook only found out about the article - alleging he was wanted and at large over an attack in Clacton - through his family.
It included an address for him and a photo taken when he was a teenager.
Mr Crook said the allegation was "malicious" and there was no need to publicise it, as he had already offered to speak to police to clear it up.
The result was that he was left "unemployed and unemployable", his lawyers told the High Court.
"I was financially in a very good place and that's completely wiped out overnight," he told Judge Taylor.
"The fact they didn't remove these things for such a long period of time made it impossible to get back into work and rebuild my life."
Police agreed to remove the story but it had already spread to other media around the world.
Mr Crook sued for breach of confidence, in publishing the old photo, and for breaches of the Data Protection Act and a violation of his human right to privacy.
Outside court, Mr Crook said he was "extremely happy" he had been vindicated.
"I now feel my name has been cleared and there has been an acknowledgement that the police had done wrong," he said.
The force, which contested the claims, was ordered on Monday to pay Mr Crook's legal costs of more than £100,000.