An angry petrol station owner has hit out at the compensation culture after he was sued by a policewoman for damages after she tripped on a kerb while on a 999 call at his property.
The owner Steve Jones was shocked when he came to know that WPC Kelly Jones was seeking a potential five figure payout from him after claiming he failed to keep her safe as she went to investigate a possible break-in.
WPC Jones, 33, was answering a midnight call to a suspected burglary when she tripped over a six-inch kerbstone, and has hired solicitors firm of London specialising in personal injury lawsuits to sue the petrol station owner. The personal injury lawyers were claiming the area was poorly lit and the kerb was not sign posted.
Mr Jones, 50, who owns the Nuns’ Bridges Service Station in Thetford, Norfolk, said he couldn’t believe that he was being sued by a police officer who was on a duty to protect the public.
He added no one would call police for help if they seek compensation for injuries while fighting crime. The police job involved public service as well as risk and that is understood when they put on their uniform and fight crime and keep the public safe.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, has now demanded urgent Home Office guidelines on the issue, saying such civil claim will have huge implications for every citizen if they call police out to their premises to help them in an emergency.
According to Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, any successful lawsuit would “set an extraordinary precedent”.
While checking the petrol station with WPC Jones and when she fell over the kerb Jones said his feelings were that she might have been a bit embarrassed at the most and helped her up and carried on with the search.
Mr Jones, whose business has previously been targeted by gangs of thieves, said the lawsuit threw up questions about what future robbery victims were supposed to do to avoid being sued by police over health and safety.
He added the health and safety culture was at work and it was an erroneous belief to blame someone for any and every accident and believe that compensation was free. He said people do trip over their own feet from time to time and that is what happened to her.
Mr Jones had called 999 after the alarm went off at the petrol station on August 25 last year. He had forgotten about the incident until he received a three-page letter from WPC Jones’s lawyers last week.
The document made a total of 11 allegations against him, including that he failed to turn the lights on or warn her of the kerb. The policewoman claims she injured her left leg and her right wrist in the fall, although she was well enough to continue the search of the garage at the time.