London

Attack victim Paul Kohler loses police stations battle

Paul Kohler soon after the attack (left), and outside court (right)
Image caption Paul Kohler suffered a fractured eye socket, broken nose and severe internal bleeding

A victim of a violent assault has failed to persuade the High Court to prevent half of London's police station front counters from being closed.

Paul Kohler, 59, says he only survived because officers in Wimbledon were able to reach his home within eight minutes.

High Court judges ruled the south-west London station should not be closed but allowed the mayor to go ahead with plans to shut at least 36 others.

Sadiq Khan said government cuts had made the closures necessary.

Mr Kohler, who was left with severe facial injuries after the 2014 attack, launched the judicial review into the decision in January.

The university lecturer said he was "delighted" that Lord Justice Lindblom and Mr Justice Lewis ruled on Friday that closing Wimbledon station was "unlawful".

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Mr Kohler, pictured after the brutal beating, argued that all the planned closures were "unlawful"

However, he added that he was "sorry" there was not enough evidence to quash the decision to close the other stations.

Tessa Gregory, a partner at law firm Leigh Day, who represented Mr Kohler, said: "Whilst the court did not consider it had the necessary evidence to quash the decision to close other police stations across London, it was highly critical in its judgment of the way in which the whole consultation was conducted."

The university lecturer suffered a fractured eye socket, broken nose and severe internal bleeding when four men forced their way into his family home in 2014.

The men later received jail terms of between 13 and 19 years.

Mr Kohler, who had facial reconstruction surgery after the attack, continues to have double-vision in his left eye.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sadiq Khan said station closures were the result of cuts to Cressida Dick's police budget

Speaking to BBC Radio London on Friday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "The Met Police is losing £1bn over 10 years.

"The simple choice is police officers or front counters.

"It's a tough choice that I've got to make - I'm choosing police officers."

'Inefficient'

He added that his office for policing and crime (MOPAC) would reconsider the closure of Wimbledon station in line with the judges' ruling.

The Metropolitan Police said it was "pleased" with the judgment.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons said the ruling meant his force can now continue with their "transformation programme" to get rid of many front counters which are often "inefficient and little used".

He added that the Met remains committed to providing one front counter per borough which is open 24 hours per day.

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