The family of PC David Rathband have lost their high court negligence claim against his employer, Northumbria police.
In July 2010, Rathband was shot twice and left for dead by Raoul Moat, minutes after Moat had phoned 999 to say he was hunting for police. Rathband killed himself in 2012.
His siblings brought the claim, arguing that if senior officers had warned Rathband, he would not have been sitting stationary in his patrol car on a prominent Newcastle roundabout above the A1.
But Mr Justice Males, sitting at the Moot Hall in Newcastle, ruled that the claim had failed. He said the claimants must pay the force’s costs, with an interim payment of £100,000 due within 21 days.
No members of Rathband’s family were in court as the parties had been made aware of the judgment before it was handed down by the judge.
Males said it was less than nine minutes after the 999 call that Moat shot the unarmed and defenceless officer in his car. “PC Rathband suffered horrific injuries, including the loss of his eyesight,” he said. “It is surprising that he was not killed.”
He said the claimants’ case was that, had he been warned, Rathband would not have been, in his own words, “a sitting duck”. They said Supt Jo Farrell, who was in charge of the operation that night, was negligent in failing to issue a warning.
The judge said the 15-minute period between Moat ringing 999 and him leaving Rathband for dead had been the focus of “intense forensic scrutiny” during the eight-day high court hearing. He said it was a fast-moving and unprecedented situation for the commanders.
“I am acutely conscious that it is easy to be wise after the event and that the dangers of hindsight must be avoided,” he said.
The Guardian 2016