Man who claims police tried to recruit him as informer loses legal battle to secure a ban on any future approaches

The high court in Belfast

A MAN allegedly threatened by police officers trying to recruit him as an informer has lost his legal battle to secure a ban on any future approaches.

The Court of Appeal upheld a decision to deny him an injunction as part of a wider lawsuit against the Chief Constable.

He claims PSNI officers offered him £2,000 and warned that his DNA could be planted on explosives if he did not co-operate.

The man, who cannot be identified, is seeking damages for alleged harassment, assault, and breach of his human rights.

He wanted an interim order to stop police disclosing his personal information pending the outcome of the case.

The man alleges he recorded a conversation with two policemen who stopped him earlier this year.

He stated that one of them said: "If you want people to know what you actually said to us the last time it might not be in your interests."

According to his legal team this represented a threat following a previous encounter he had with the same men at a police station in Belfast.

In 2013 they allegedly put money on the table for him to provide information on named individuals, and warned that if he did not co-operate his DNA could end up at a crime scene.

With the officers denying any threats to plant evidence, a Police Ombudsman investigation into the earlier alleged incident found insufficient evidence to support the allegations.

Seeking the court order, lawyers for the man claimed his life could be put at risk by officers releasing false information that he has become an informer.

In May a High Court judge refused to grant the injunction, ruling that jurisdiction for complaints about requests to become a covert human intelligence source (CHIS) lies with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

The man challenged her decision, claiming she had reached the wrong conclusion.

Ruling on the case, appeal judges held there is a serious issue to be tried over alleged misfeasance in public office.

Lord Justice Stephens said: "We consider that there is a strong case that the police officer issued a threat to the appellant and that the threat was a threat to his life or bodily integrity.

"We also consider that there was no conceivable justification for such a threat and that there is a serious issue to be tried as to whether this would have been known to the police officer.

"Furthermore we consider that there is a duty of care to informants and to persons who are approached to be informants and that the potential for informants to come forward is adversely affected if they perceive that they might be subject to threats of this nature."

However, he held that it would not be appropriate to grant the injunction sought because of the passage of time.

The judge added: "There is no evidence that the threat was ever carried out.

"There is no evidence of anything having been said to or done to the appellant in the intervening period by any third party indicating that they have reason to believe that he is or was an informer."

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