The police complaints commissioner has apologised to Scotland's largest force for making an error in his report into a complaint about a motorway pursuit.
Professor John McNeill said he no longer insists on certain recommendations he made in the investigation, published in April. In a letter to Strathclyde Police Deputy Chief Constable Campbell Corrigan, he offered a "sincere apology" for the mistake.
The report criticised Strathclyde Police for the way it handled a series of complaints from a driver who was pursued by an unmarked police car along an unnamed motorway for seven miles in January last year. The man being pursued was so frightened that he called 999 from his car, only to be told that the vehicle following him was actually a police car.
The report, called a complaint handling review, recommended to Strathclyde Police that it apologise to the man for having been stopped, stating that the plain-clothes officers pursuing him had no power to do so.
He reminded the force that under section 3 of the Road Traffic Act, only uniformed police officers can require a vehicle to stop.
Prof McNeill said he still considers the pursuit of the car to be "highly inappropriate". But having taken legal advice, he said he now accepts that his interpretation of the law in relation to a plain-clothes officer's power to stop a car was wrong.
He no longer insisted that the complaint that the officers had no power to stop his car, referred to as 1a, be recorded as substantiated. He said it was appropriate for him to publicly acknowledge the error.
Professor McNeill said: "While I remain of the view that the officers' actions in pursuing the car were highly inappropriate, breached a prohibition contained within the manual of guidance issued by Acpos in 2009 and posed a clear risk to other road users, on the advice of counsel, I accept that my interpretation of the law in relation to a plain-clothes officer's power to stop a car was wrong.
"I have today written to the deputy chief constable of Strathclyde Police apologising to him and the officers involved for this error and advising that I no longer insist on the recommendations I made in relation to complaint 1(a) in the report.
"At the same time, I have advised the individual who made the original complaint of my intention and have offered my apologies for the disappointment that will result from the error."
Professor McNeill said he no longer insists that an apology be issued to the complainer for having been stopped when the officers lacked the power to do so.
Deputy Chief Constable Corrigan said: "I welcome the fact that the commissioner has written to us to apologise for the error in his original report. We always maintained that our officers had not acted unlawfully and it was, I believe, right that we gave those officers our full backing and challenged the commissioner on this issue.
"I am pleased that the commissioner has accepted and recognised this. We enjoy an excellent relationship with the commissioner and the fact that we have been able to challenge this point is, I believe, a measure of the strength of that relationship.
"It is important that the public have absolute confidence in the job that the police do in our communities. Where there are things that we get wrong, it is important that we learn from them. However, when we need to defend our officers' actions in doing their job, that is exactly what we will do."
People who read this story also read
- Faslane base ‘would remain with UK’ in independent Scotland
- Man jailed for killing his cousin by stabbing him in the buttocks
- Patient's leg amputated after nurse 'failed to give medication'
- Toddler wandered out of nursery near to busy M77 motorway
- Mapped: How Rangers owed money to creditors across the globe