Alexander Economou v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis
Directorate of Legal Services
Metropolitan Police Service
10 Lambs Conduit Street
London WC1N 3NR
BY POST AND EMAIL
18th December 2017
Alexander Economou v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis
I write further to my letter dated 6th December 2017, which was received by you at 9:47am on 6th December 2017 and signed for by R Rodriques. For the sake of good order enclose a copy of that letter.
In that letter I set out my claim for breaches of the data protection act and breach of confidentiality.
After having been further advised I will be making a further claim for breach of human rights, and misuse of private information as well as breach of confidence and breach of the data protection act. The entire claim is detailed as follows:
Part 1 - Breach of Human Rights
1. On January 4th 2013, Eleanor de Freitas made an allegation of rape against me, stating that she had been assaulted on the 23 and 24th December 2012. Crime ref [redacted]. Following an investigation by DC Phil Dial p198448 the case was passed to DI Julian King p190760 to review. He took the decision that no further action was to be taken against myself.
2. During that investigation my solicitor provided DC Dial with CCTV and text message evidence which contradicted the account Ms de Freitas had made to the police. My solicitor and I asked DC Dial and DI King to investigate Ms de Freitas for perverting the course of justice, on the basis that she had made a false allegation of rape. Both officers refused to look at the evidence against Ms de Freitas.
3. On the 27th February 2013 I made a complaint to the IPCC. The complaint read as follows:
Crime ref [redacted]
I was recently reported for rape.
However the police have in their possession evidence that shows the woman is lying. This includes CCTV of the woman and I shopping a few hours after the alleged rape. In fact there is 25 minutes of CCTV showing the woman and I kissing, laughing and smiling. Not only that but the CCTV was in Ann Summers shop. To make the situation completely absurd, the woman spends £340 on sex toys.
As well as the CCTV evidence, there are a number of text messages and emails sent a fw hours after the alleged rape that state clearly any sex was consensual.
Despite all of this absurd evidence and my statement that says the woman has lied, the OIC has done absolutely nothing to verify this and told me to get on with life and to pursue civil action and not take it any further.
In short, a woman was [sic] walked into a police station, made a false report, lied in a police interview, had a man arrested and kept on bail for 7 weeks – and now nothing is going to happen to her because the OIC didn’t look into it.
I am at my wits end and have not slept in two months. Something should be done about this. Please I beg you could [sic] someone re-review the evidence; this situation is totally absurd.
I ask you, how much evidence does one need to show the allegation was false? The OIC has everything he needs CCTV, text messages and emails a few hours afterwards and even a strong of messages and emails sent days afterwards.
Please could you look into this.
4. The IPCC passed my complaint onto the officers, to investigate themselves. Of course DI King found no wrongdoing against himself and his colleague.
5. Since the police were not going to investigate Ms de Freitas for lying I hired specialist solicitors and mounted my own private prosecution against her. The file of evidence was passed to the CPS in September 2013.
6. On 24th September 2013 I wrote and signed a victim impact statement. Paragraph 9 reads:
“One of the worst things I have found during the whole process was the response of the police after they had declined to take no further action in relation to Ellie’s allegation. After weeks of being on bail and exhaustive evidence gathering by my lawyers, they eventually obtained CCTV evidence that showed that Ellie had lied. Immediately my solicitors contacted the police and asked them to consider this new evidence and asked DC dial for an address of where he would like it sent. Unbelievably, he refused to give us an address and said he didn’t need it. It was only after a further two emails that he said the CCTV could be useful in case Ellie made a complaint in the decision not to prosecute me. It seemed that the police had no interest in solving the real crime; they were only concerned with their own liabilities and obtained the CCTV to cover their own backs. I begged DC Dial to consider viewing the CCTV and other evidence but he told me the case was closed and nothing would change that decision. I would say that this was even more stressful than when I was arrested. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was at the mercy of the police and they were refusing to investigate the real crime that had occurred and refused to look at the actual evidence, whereas they had acted upon Ellie’s complaint immediately”.
7. On 5th December 2013, the CPS notified the parties that the case has passed both the evidential and public interest tests and they would be continuing with the prosecution.
8. Ms de Freitas trial was listed for 7th April 2014.
9. On 24th January 2014, at a plea and case management hearing at Southwark Crown Court Patricia Lynch QC (as she then was) told the court:
“This is case in an unusual one in that the officer who originally investigated this matter is refusing to co-operate with the CPS, so it is difficult for us regarding the un-unused. I understand that this has gone to the top within the CPS and is being deal with”.
10. I later found out that part of the information they were not disclosing, was the fact that Ms de Freitas had made another unsubstantiated rape complain against someone else six months before making allegations against me. A report published by the Directorate of Professional Standards on March 6th 2017 has stated
“DC Dial was aware that a previous allegation of rape/attempted rape had been made by Ms de Freitas and that there were significant concerned about the veracity of this claim” and that “the investigating officers found no evidence of a crime having been committed”, in relation to this previous complaint.
11. On April 4th Ms de Freitas committed suicide. On December 9th of the same year the Director of Public Prosecution reviewed the decision making process of the CPS and made a public statement which included the following:
i) “However, the evidence in this case was strong and having considered it in light of all of our knowledge and guidance on prosecuting sexual offences and allegedly false rape claims, it is clear there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for perverting the course of justice. This was evidence including text messages and CCTV footage that directly contradicted the account Ms de Freitas gave to the police”.
ii) “There has been speculation that the police did not agree with the prosecution for various reasons. However, the police never undertook an investigation into the alleged perverting the course of justice nor did they consider all the material provided to us by the private prosecution. They were therefore not in a position to form a view on whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute”.
iii) “I am satisfied that prosecutors had taken the necessary steps in assuring themselves that Ms de Freitas’ mental health had been properly considered. This was in the form of a very detailed report by a consultant forensic psychiatrist instructed by Ms de Freitas’ legal team, who also took into account the views of Ms de Freitas’ consultant psychiatrist. That medical assessment was clear. The doctor instructed by Ms de Freitas’ legal representative recommended that she was aware of the implications of making a false allegation, as she was alleged to have done, and was fit to stand trial. We do not take on these kinds of prosecutions lightly, but the medical evidence provided to us could not justify dropping such a serious case. No further representations were made to us as to Ms de Freitas’ health, which would of course have been carefully considered”.
12. On the 7th April, HHJ Taylor sitting at Southwark Crown Court was informed of Ms de Freitas death and the file was closed.
13. On 24th July 2014 I made a follow up complaint to the IPCC, which reported the officers for refusing to co-operate with the CPS during the prosecution of Ms de Freitas, on the basis they were trying to withhold important evidence from the CPS. I also asked the IPCC to re-investigate my complaint of 2013 on the basis that the decision had not been impartial.
14. In the course of the IPCC investigation I made a witness statement on 1st May 2015, at the request of the investigating officer. Which included the following:
“despite my numerous attempts to bring evidence to the attention of the [sic] DC Dial and DI King that the allegations made by Eleanor de Freitas were untrue, they were simply not interested and refused to assist me or record my allegation. I wanted to report a crime but they refused to record it or review it, or to review fresh evidence to establish if there was a crime or not.”
15. The IPCC concluded their report on 6th March 2017, some 4 years after my original IPCC complaint. The report found that both DC Dial and DI King have a case to answer for misconduct, for refusing to investigate Ms de Freitas for lying. Some quotes from that report:
i) “If Mr Economou was correct, and the allegation were false, then the impact of those false allegations on him and his liberty were truly grave”.
ii) “The fact that neither officer had seen the CCTV, or the text messages, at the point of deciding to take no further action was a very unusual and unacceptable position to have adopted”.
iii) “This is a rather strange situation where the police are asking a member of the public, who is alleging a crime, to collect evidence themselves. Surely it is the job of the police to gather evidence…”
iv) “The conclusion of this investigation is that DC Dial and DI King did indeed fail to investigate this possibility. They had a duty to record Mr Economou’s allegation of crime… it is clear that there was evidence available to at the very least give rise to a concern as the veracity of Ms de Freitas account. The officers’ claims that there was no such evidence available to them is not accepted”.
16. The failings constitute an infringement of my Article 3 Human Rights in that the police failed in their obligation to carry out effective inquiries into allegations of inhumane or degrading treatment.
Extension of Limitation period:
17. Under the Human Rights Act, a claim should be commenced within a year of the acts or omissions complained of (in this instance, the investigation and relevant failings and/or omissions occurred between January and February 2013).
18. However, the court has discretion to extend this time period if it is ‘equitable’ to do so, having regard to all the circumstances.
19. Although there is no assistance contained in the Human Rights Act as to calculating when a claimant acquires knowledge of the acts or omissions complained of, this is undoubtedly a relevant factor. In this case, I became aware of a potential claim in March 2017, following the publication of the IPCC report.
20. I will be making a request for an extension of time in my pleadings.
Part 2 - Breach of confidence, misuse of private information and breach of data protection act
21. I have already covered many of the points in my letter dated 6th December 2017 in relation this part of my claim, however I will include those details below for completeness.
22. On 6th November 2014 I became aware of press concerning myself in the Guardian Newspaper. The subject matter was the rape allegation that had been made against me and the subsequent prosecution of Ms de Freitas. Over the following days various articles were published about me in other newspapers, for example The Times, The Independent, Evening Standard, and The Metro. In all of those above mentioned newspapers the following words were published “the crime had been recorded as rape”. The dates and titles of the publications containing these words are:
i) Guardian: November 6th 2014, 19:20. “Call for prosecutors to answer of trial of alleged rape victim who killed herself”. Published online and in hard copy the next day. This was also re-tweeted 600 times in 24hrs.
iI) Evening Standard: November 7th 2014, 14:22. “My daughter was driven to suicide by prosecution claims she falsely cried rape”. Published online and hard copy the same day.
iiI) The Independent: November 7th 2014. “Eleanor de Freitas: DPP to investigate case of alleged rape victim who killed herself after being charged with making false accusation”. Published online and hard copy the following day.
iv) The Times: November 7th 2014, 08:54. ‘Bipolar woman kills herself after cry rape prosecution”.
23. In fact there are many other articles which paraphrase my leaked personal data. For example, on November 9th 2014 The Sun published the following “Falsely accusing someone of rape is a crime. But this case is black and white and police stated that they believed Eleanor’s claim that she was attacked”. Words which can be directly attributed to the data which was leaked.
24. During the course of the press, many of my friends also read the articles containing the words “the crime was recorded as rape”. For example:
i) [name redacted] (text 6.11.2014 20:29) “Ecc have you seen the article in the Guardian on your case?”
ii) [name redacted] (text 7.11.2014, 08:26) “Don’t read any of that rubbish, you’re an amazing person who’s had to deal with a lot of awful stuff that you did not deserve.”
iii) [name redacted] (text 7.11.2014, 11:08) “Hi Alexander, reading the times- is that the girl u were tell’n me about?”
iv) [name redacted] (text 7.11.2014, 20:12) “there is a tiny article in evening standard right top page 2.”
v) [name redacted] (text 7.11.2014, 19:43) “….the article I read was sickening.”
vi) [name redacted] (text 8.11.2014, 11:48) “mate seen the news. Hope ur doing ok…”
vii) [name redacted] (text 8.11.2014, 09:22) “…sorry to see all that stuff in the paper”
viii) [name redacted] (Facebook Message 9.11.2014, 14:20 “….also Mate, have seen some of the coverage in the media over the last week…”
ix) [name redacted] (text 11.11.2014, 09:13 “…just returned from Singapore and saw all the crap in the news…”
x) [name redacted] Food (text 12.11.2014, 16:46) “….I did see the news…and I am sure you have been busy with it all!”
xi) [name redacted] (Facebook Message 17.11.2014, 16:05) “I was sorry to hear about your news in the press once again”
xii) [name redacted] (Facebook messenger 17.11.2014, 21:55) “Have seen some of the shit in the news, etc”.
25. On December 10th 2014, there was a second wave of press. Two articles in particular which were quoting Detective Inspector King.
i) The Guardian published an article that day which was titled “Eleanor de Freitas should never have been charged, Police say”, which went on to say “In a letter this month, DI Julian King, of Sapphire, the sexual offenses investigation unit, said: “I stand by my decision in that I do not believe that Eleanor de Freitas should ever have been prosecuted for PCJ [perverting the course of justice].
ii) The Daily Mail published an article in hard copy and online titled “Woman should never have been put on trial for “cry rape claims” insist police” and went on to say “detectives believed Miss de Freitas, who suffered from a psychiatric illness, had told the truth about the rape when she reported it, but they decided there was not enough evidence to secure a conviction”
26. The statement “the crime was recorded as rape” and other statements which paraphrased those words, implying I was a rapist, cause enormous distress. I hardly slept in November and December 2014. I spent New Years eve on my own and was very anxious throughout that period. I lost about 8kg in weight and suffered from a bad back due to the stress and tension. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
27. I instructed a firm of solicitors, Field Fisher, to write letters to the above mentioned publications to remove this statement and other related to it. Legal expenses were incurred as a result of the request corrections and a PR agency was hired to repair the damage. I estimate that legal and professional expenses in relation to the November and December 2014 articles amounted to £70,000. A portion of this was directly related to DI Kings statements and breaches of confident, misuse of private information and breach of data protection act.
28. Despite writing robust letters to various newspapers asking for “the crime was recorded as rape” statements to be removed, some publications have refused to remove it, on the basis that it was “accurate” and it is still online today. For example Guardian Newspapers. Those publications remain online and searchable on Google. As a result I have suffered years of embarrassment and distress.
29. On the 9th April 2015 I received a letter from Associated Newspapers (publisher of the Daily Mail), in response to one of my legal letters. They stated that they had in their possession several emails from Detective Inspector King, on which they were basing the “accuracy” of their stories about me. I notified Detective Constable [redacted] for the Directorate of Professional Standards and the Information Commissioners Office, who investigated and found on the balance of probabilities the police breached the data protection act.
30. I later included referred to this letter from Associated Newspaper in a witness statement dated 1st May 2015, for example I state:
i) “The Daily Mail lawyers have also told me that they have seen emails or letters from DI King to David de Freitas. One was written in August 2014 and another was in December 2014. I believe there could be more emails...”
ii) “I was completely shocked when I found his out. I could not believe what they were telling me”
iii) “I have never given consent for this information to be released and belive that DI King had no authority or right to do so…”
iv) “In his emails DI King even goes further and discloses his rationale not to prosecute me and gives his opinion. I cannot believe this is allowed. I find this absolutely outrageous. Because of DI king emails to David de Freitas there are a number of articles now circulating on websites of national newspapers that state “the police believed she [Eleanor de Freitas} was telling the truth”.
v) “I understand the coroners court has never made an order for information (in relation to the original rape case) o be made available. The DPP has also refused to provide such information to David de Freitas on the basis that it is inappropriate to do so…this was not a harmless breach of data protections without consequence”.
31. However, it was only in March 2016 that I had actual sight of the emails written by of DI King. It was only then that I realised that he was the author of “the crime was recorded as rape”. Obviously that statement relates to how my data is record in the Police National Computer, and is secret. I did not even know this until I had seen the email. I was really shocked when I read the emails and realised that DI King had been quoted verbatim in the national press in several articles that I had complained about, including those exact words, in November 2014.
32. All of the emails between DI King and Mr de Freitas were about the investigation into rape allegations made against me. The emails unlawfully disclosed my data, contrary to the data protection act.
33. There were serious consequences to the data breaches, my data was published in the national press, with several friends and family members reading the articles. As well as millions of others.
34. Because I lost control of the data it could be taken out of context by 3rd parties and it was, some publications used DI Kings emails as evidence that I was guilty of rape and justified their actions. This caused a nightmare and significant emotional distress. This can be evidenced in various Tweets and comments in forums all over the internet.
35. What is unbelievable is that DI King repeatedly disclosed my data, at a time when he was aware the press were publishing his emails. There were two main waves of the press, in November and December 2014. By December he would have known that anything he gave to David de Freitas would be published and would cause me serious upset. Instead of stopping he continued to disclose my highly sensitive and confidential data knowing that it could harm me.
36. A further item to compound the Police’s recklessness. It was only a few months before that I had voiced my concerns with DI King about my person data. I had written to DI King on June 3rd 2014, just two months before he leaked my data to Mr de Freitas. I wrote:
“I wanted to ask if it would be at all possible to update my file concerning the rape allegation of 4th January 2013… it is a concern that my file might give the impression that I’m some kind of serial offender”
37. I had also expressed my concerns in May and June of 2014 that the de Freitas family were being hostile towards me and others. DI King knew that there was a real risk that the de Freitas may want some kind of “retribution” in his own words. In response to my email he said on May 27th 2014:
“Should you receive any information that any family or friends or associated of Eleanor’s family are seeking some form of retribution against you or witnesses in the case, then contact me or report at your nearest police station”.
38. On June 21st 2014, I informed DI king that the messages from Mrs de Freitas were not stopping and a witness was very upset by this. He replied the same day to the witness (but copying me in) “report this matter by calling 101” and in another email that day he said “it needs to be reported as harassment”.
39. Indeed Mrs de Freitas was warned by PC [name redacted] to stop sending threatening messages to witnesses in August 2014, the same month DI King started leaking my personal data to her husband. Crime ref [redacted]
40. The last person in the world I wanted to have my person data given to was David de Freitas, and that’s exactly what happened. It was totally reckless to the extreme. It didn’t happen once, it happened over and over again during a press campaign and caused a huge amount of distress, which was compounded with each new data breach that ended up in the press.
41. On the 30th November 2017 the Directorate of Professional Standards admitted that the data protection act was breached (in relation to the above) and that DI King had no lawful defence.
42. I have however “appealed” and requested that the IPCC looks into the matter again, because it is clear that DI King was accessing the police national computer at his leisure in order to give that information to David de Freitas and that a further investigation needs to establish more precise details. I do not object to the finding of fact that the DPA was breached, I object to not enough facts having been established.
The truth about this entire situation is that I was the victim of very serious crime. Instead of helping the victim, the police told me to go away and collect the evidence myself. When I eventually got hold of CCTV and text message evidence (via my solicitors) the police again told me to go away. They never even looked at it.
Even when Ms de Freitas was eventually prosecuted by the CPS the police refused to hand over evidence that showed she had a history of making false complaints. It was only after Martin Hewitt, assistant commissioner intervened that a disclosure officer was appointed. The truth is that DI King and DC Dial wanted to sabotage the prosecution of Ms de Freitas to avoid the facts came out, because they would come across as incompetent.
With regards to the data breaches, when I told DI King that myself and other witnesses were receiving threatening messages from the de Freitas family, instead of telling them to stop he started a dialogue with them giving them my personal data. This data was published in the press, not in one newspaper, but half a dozen, and made me look like a rapist, causing me an amount of stress which is indescribable. To date the police have never apologised, or tried to retrieve my personal data.
Evidence from the DPS, ICO, IPCC, [redacted] as well as other sources will be used at trial, and will highlight the aggravating factors. I invite you to put forward an offer which covers at least the following:
1. Make a full and unreserved public apology; a) admitting the police made mistakes; b) that I am an innocent man; c) nothing the police have previously said should infer any wrongdoing on my part.
2. Pay me no less than £50,000 in damages.
3. Reimburse my legal costs on an indemnity basis, including the costs of writing legal letters to the press connected with this matter and removal my personal data from the internet, as quoted from DI Kings emails.
Bearing in the mind the festive season, I will be prepared to wait until 19th January 2018 after which I will issue proceedings. This letter constitutes the letter before claim.