A “high-flying” black bank manager who was pulled over by the police and wrongly accused of gun crime will take a £1m claim over his ruined career before a judge.

Dale Semper says he suffered deep trauma and went through a two-year nightmare of stress and uncertainty while Met Police detectives investigated him over wrongful suspicions of involvement in crime.

During that time, Mr Semper, of Enfield, north London, was also suspended from his £72,000-a-year role with Lloyds Bank after his employers learned he was being investigated.

The high-achieving 41-year-old was later allowed back to work. Police went on to search the home of his HR manager partner, Denise Huggan, as well as his mum, Linnette Semper, and in all took over two years to carry out their enquiries.

Now Mr Semper – alongside Ms Huggan and his mum, who has worked for the NHS for 20 years – are suing the Met for around £1m, claiming damages for “lost earnings, psychological damage, false imprisonment, trespass and discrimination”.

Following a decision at the High Court, the case is set to go to trial in front of a civil court judge, sitting with a specialist “assessor” skilled in cases involving alleged racial discrimination.

Rejecting Mr Semper’s claim that the case should be tried by a jury, Judge Hugh Southey KC said the matter was of too great public importance to be decided by jurors and instead needs the expertise of a judge.

In his claim, Mr Semper says that his nightmare began in August 2017 when he and his partner, Denise Huggan, were stopped by police as he drove her to a train station.

Officers ordered him out of the car and cuffed him, despite Mr Semper protesting they had “got the wrong guy”.

He was then driven back to his home, which was searched, and had to experience the humiliation of standing outside his own home in handcuffs in front of his neighbours.

Mr Semper was staggered when he learnt that the officers were searching for guns in his house, and also rocked when they subsequently – having found no firearms – told him he was being instead being investigated for money laundering.

It was only in October 2019 that he was informed over the phone that the investigation was being dropped and that no further action would be taken.

During his two-year ordeal, Mr Semper went through the indignity of having his bank accounts frozen and had to account for all the cash he spent and earned in exhaustive detail.

Mr Semper is suing the Met on multiple grounds – including racial discrimination, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, misfeasance and breach of data protection.

He claims he was singled out by police due to skewed “racial profiling”, although this is flatly denied by the Met, which insists it had “reasonable and probable cause” for all its officers’ actions.

The force says it was acting on intelligence and, although it did not lead to a prosecution, it was justified in investigating.

During an earlier hearing, Mr Semper’s barrister Adam Wagner revealed that the “high value” case could be worth around £1 million to him and his family.

“Mr Semper has plateaued in what was previously a high-flying career as a bank manager,” he said during the hearing.

“The police appear to have called up his employer and told them they believed he was involved in people smuggling.

“That led to his employer taking all sorts of actions which we say they otherwise wouldn’t have taken.

“We say the police can’t go around telling everybody what is being alleged. There has got to be proportionality.”

He said the case includes a substantial loss of earnings claim, particularly for Mr Semper, who he said was a “well-paid and relatively young bank employee who has suffered a serious and potentially longterm psychiatric injury as a result of the alleged unlawful actions of the police.”

“The lost earnings claim is substantial and would form the bulk of the damages,” he said.

“There is also a substantial psychological damage claim, plus claims for false imprisonment and discrimination.”

But Mr Wagner said that, as well as money, the family want answers as to why “a black man – a businessman and successful bank manager – would be put through what he was put through”.

“For the three claimants on a full liability basis, the claim is worth around £1m,” he added.

Lawyers for the Met deny all liability and say the £1m claim against them is “aspirational and enthusiastic,” suggesting Mr Spencer’s career path would have flattened out anyway.

The case reached court after an application by Mr Semper and his family for his trial to go before a jury.

Setting out their case during his ruling on the application, Judge Southey said: “The claimants rely on the importance of the issues raised by the claim as supporting the application.

“In issue are allegations of the abuse of police powers. In particular, it is said there were racist motives in the actions of the police.

“That is said to be a matter of national interest in light of concerns about institutional racism in the Met.”

The Met contested the application, arguing that the important issues would be better decided by a judge, who – unlike a jury – would be able to give a “reasoned judgment” setting out detailed findings.

The judge continued: “It appears to me that the significant issues of racism that are raised by this case are matters that weigh against a jury trial.

“It is important that there is a reasoned judgment. That will allow the claimants and the public to understand precisely what findings have been made about a highly sensitive issue and an issue where there is legitimate public interest.

“One of the risks of a jury trial is that key findings regarding alleged racism will not necessarily be clear to the public.

“In light of that I have concluded that I should decline to exercise my discretion to order a jury trial.”

The case will go before a judge at Central London County Court, sitting with the assistance of a specialist assessor, skilled and experienced in discrimination issues.

The assessor will help the judge evaluate the factual evidence at the trial, but will not make any decisions which decide the outcome of the trial.

No date has been set for the trial. In earlier interviews, Mr Semper claimed he would never have been pursued had he been a white bank manager, and claimed detectives simply could not accept that a black person could be a high earner without a criminal background.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *