South East Wales

Gwent Police settle with Robert Whatley over car chase

Lawyers say police have made a substantial out-of-court settlement after stopping a Monmouthshire man's car and smashing its windows.

Businessman Robert Whatley, 71, of Usk, took legal action over a 17-minute pursuit for not wearing a seat belt.

The officers were later cleared in a disciplinary hearing and Gwent Police has made no admission of liability.

BBC Wales understands the payment is in excess of £20,000. Police said they decided to settle on financial grounds.

Mr Whatley, who claimed for post-traumatic stress disorder, has already received more than £8,000 from the force after claiming for damage to his Range Rover.

His solicitors say Gwent Police has also agreed to pay "all reasonable" costs for the legal action.

Mr Whatley's lawyers had secured a copy of the police video of the incident which was later seen by thousands of people on YouTube.

Mr Whatley was stopped in 2009 at the end of the pursuit. He had driven off without wearing a seat belt and was chased for several miles along country roads between Cwmbran and Usk.

Mr Whatley was later found guilty of not wearing a seatbelt, failing to stop for a police officer and having tinted car windows that did not conform to legal requirements.

Image caption Robert Whatley appeared before Caerphilly magistrates after the pursuit

He also admitted having a registration plate which did not adhere to regulations and was fined a total of £235 and ordered to pay £300 towards prosecution costs by Caerphilly magistrates.

However, the court cleared Mr Whatley of failing to stop after an accident.

The IPCC supervised an investigation into the incident but a disciplinary panel made up of officers from another force later cleared the two Gwent officers, finding that their actions were justified.

In respect of the out-of-court settlement, Gwent deputy chief constable Jeff Farrar said: "Gwent Police have not accepted any liability in this matter, however contesting the matter further would have incurred substantial legal costs if the case had gone to court.

"Therefore, whilst we maintain our position that we do not admit liability, a decision was made to settle the matter out of court on financial grounds."

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