Police pay damages to reporter who exposed poor treatment of people with learning difficulties

Kent police have paid £15,000 damages to a BBC journalist
who exposed poor care standards in a residential home for people
with learning difficulties in Kent, writes Clare

Donal MacIntyre has been successful in a libel action against
the chief constable of Kent and two colleagues for their comments
about the programme in the MacIntyre Undercover series. It is
believed to have been the first time that police have been
successfully sued for defamation.

Speaking outside the high court earlier this week, MacIntyre
said: “Kent police today acknowledged that the Brompton Care Home
programme gave a fair and accurate impression of life there, and
exposed distressing and unacceptable behaviour by some members of

“People with learning difficulties have a right to quality to
care and protection, free from abuse, and I am delighted that we
have been completely vindicated,” he added.

The journalist has decided to donate the money to two charities
for people with learning difficulties.

Brompton home in Gillingham was closed following the broadcast
of the programme on BBC1 in November 1999, and Medway council
launched an independent investigation. Police inquiries resulted in
two people being cautioned for five offences of criminal

Deputy chief constable Robert Ayling said: “Kent Police have
apologised to Donal MacIntyre for unjustified comments made by
members of the force regarding issues arising from the programme
concerning the Brompton Care Home.

“The force accepts that the programme served the public interest
by revealing serious shortcomings in the way the home was run,” he

People First, a charity which campaigns for people with learning
difficulties has welcomed the announcement that MacIntyre will be
awarded damages, and hopes it will make all police forces realise
that they must take crimes committed against people with learning
difficulties seriously.

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