The newspaper headlines this week that have bemoaned and cried in shock at the decision to award ex-police officer Mike Baillon £430,000 in damages demonstrate that media outrage and emotional reaction account for little compared to legal right.
Mr Baillon quit his job as a police officer after a video of him smashing a pensioners car window went viral and was viewed by more than 30 million people worldwide. He claimed that other officers were making his position in the police force untenable and he felt forced to leave his position.
But despite the widespread criticism that Mr Baillon received from co-workers and others in the wake of his action, he was cleared of any wrongdoing and his complaint of constructive dismissal was upheld.
The internal investigation into the case cleared Mr Baillon and found that he had expertly used a conflict management technique known as an ‘explosion of force’ that is taught to officers.
Mr Baillon explained: “The reason I left was because of the treatment I received from senior officers. There's a culture in the police of joking. I fully accept that. That was never a problem.
“My wife suffered a miscarriage. It was shortly after the video was leaked, and I hold the stress that was there at the time for her losing our baby. Somebody wrote something on my locker which was personal to us. They fully knew the impact of what they were writing on my locker and the effect.
“It was something that I found highly personal and that I found highly offensive and insensitive and the organisation did nothing about that.”
Anser Amin of Walker Prestons Solicitors explains: “this case is a perfect example of the fact that we, fortunately, live in a society that upholds its legal responsibilities and does not bow to media pressure. If you have been personally or financially affected by somebody else’s actions then you may be entitled to compensation. Even if you do not morally believe in the result of this case, it was legally sound and the court’s legal responsibility has been upheld”.
The pensioner involved in the incident was also awarded £65,000 in compensation from the police force despite refusing to pull over whilst being pursued by the police for 17 minutes for speeding and driving without a seatbelt.
The compensation package that was awarded to Mr Baillon was decided upon to cover loss of earnings and a loss of pension.