Roger Sylvester Justice Campaign (RSJC)

Seven of the eight officers (Phillip John Steedman, David Alan Clohosy, Ian Alexander Smith,Sean Kiernan,Andrew Philip Newman, Simon Paul Creevy, John Anderson,) involved in the detaining of Roger Sylvester, have lost their claim for defamation against the BBC.

Background, (following extracted from trial transcripts).

On the evening of the 11th January 1999 the above were called to an incident at Tottenham. The incident concerned a Mr Roger Sylvester. The claimants say that he was apparently locked out of his house and was causing a disturbance in the street. The claimants contend that they detained Mr Sylvester pursuant to the provisions of the Mental Health Act and transported him to hospital. There he suffered a respiratory failure and, following transfer to two other hospitals, his life support machine was switched off on 18th January 1999.

The incident became a matter of great notoriety. It was followed by numerous reports in the media expressing doubts about the police's version of events.

In due course it emerged that the Sylvester family were in fact contending that the police were responsible for Mr Sylvester's death. Following a complaint by the family to the Police Complaints Authority, the Essex Police were brought in to conduct an investigation into the affair. A well-known and experienced firm of solicitors was then instructed by the Police Federation in regard to any possible disciplinary or criminal charges against the claimants arising out of Mr Sylvester's death.  On 26th January 1999, an inquest into Mr Sylvester's death was opened and adjourned. It has not, even now, resumed.

Mr Sylvester's funeral did not take place until 16th April 1999. That day, as part of the Newsroom Southeast bulletin of local news for the BBC1 Breakfast Programme, the transmission complained of was made:-

"The family and supporters of Roger Sylvester are expected to gather in North London today for his funeral. Mr Sylvester died in January, after being restrained by eight police officers. This morning a procession will travel through Tottenham to Summerhill Road where he was killed."

This broadcast was, in some form or other, raised by the claimants with the Police Federation and within a week the Police Federation obtained a transcript of the broadcast which was then forwarded to the firm of solicitors already instructed. In the meantime Scotland Yard had issued an apology for an earlier statement that Mr Sylvester had been behaving in an aggressive and vociferous manner when restrained.

"Shortly thereafter, certainly within a month, the Police Federation put the libel matter into the hands of the solicitors Russell Jones & Walker.

End of extracts.


Comment from MOJUK

Apparently the solicitors failed to lodge the application with the courts, within time. Non of the police officers were ever named by any of the media in any of the reports at the time or since.

MOJUK would like to know if the Police Federation were again trying to stifle any criticism of police actions.

A full transcript of the trial, from which the above is taken can be viewed below.

Further information from:

Roger Sylvester Justice Campaign (RSJC)

PO Box 25908;

London N18 1WU

Tel:0793 197 0442