Journalist wins care home libel damages

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.

The High Court ruled this week in favour of Donal MacIntyre in his
libel action against the chief constable of Kent and two colleagues
over claims that the programme in the MacIntyre Undercover
series was misleading, exaggerated claims about the home and had
wasted police time.

Speaking outside the High Court, 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 staff.

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

The journalist has decided to donate the £15,000 to two
charities for people with learning difficulties.

The Gillingham care home was closed after the broadcast of the
programme on BBC1 in November 1999. Medway Council, which ran the
home, launched an independent investigation into the claims. A
police investigation resulted in two people being cautioned for
five offences of criminal assault.

Deputy chief constable Robert Ayling said Kent police had
apologised to MacIntyre for “unjustified” comments made by members
of the force.

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

Andrew Lee, director of learning difficulties charity People First,
welcomed the announcement and said he hoped it would make all
police forces realise they must take crimes committed against
people with learning difficulties more seriously.

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