In the Media

London riots ?model citizen? wins damages

PUBLISHED May 13, 2013

Monday 13 May 2013 by Jonathan Rayner

Who: Tamsin Allen, 49, media and information law partner at London firm Bindmans.

Why is she in the news? Acted for Hackney resident Leslie Austin who during the August 2011 London riots helped victims and the police, but in May 2012 found that his photograph was on wanted posters in shops and other public places and also on a police website for having been 'involved in the disorder'.

The police were quick to accept that he had acted as a 'model citizen' during the riots, but failed to delete his photograph from their website until 15 June 2012 and continued to display some posters for another two months. The poster was also given to the Hackney Gazette and published, even after the police had accepted Austin's innocence.

He issued libel proceedings in October 2012 and in the High Court on 3 May the police apologised for the 'inadequate' steps they had taken to remove the posters, delete Austin's photograph from their website and ensure his image did not appear in the Hackney Gazette. They agreed to pay Austin substantial damages and his legal costs, with a spokesman saying: 'It is accepted that these failures have caused great damage to the claimant's reputation and have caused him much distress and great concern.'

Thoughts on the case: 'This was an embarrassing climbdown for the police. Even after accepting that Mr Austin was a good Samaritan on the night of the riots, these damaging posters continued to appear in Hackney shops and online. However, Mr Austin is pleased that this matter has finally been resolved and his reputation has been vindicated.'

Why become a lawyer? 'My fury at the injustice that I saw around me.'

Career high: 'My part in winning a posthumous pardon for Derek Bentley at around the same time that I was admitted to the roll in 1998. He had been hanged in 1953 aged 19 for his involvement in the murder of a police officer.'

Career low: 'A client dying during the six-year wait for a judgment from the European Court of Human Rights.'