Former cop says Sun story cost her MI5 job - Press Gazette

Former cop says Sun story cost her MI5 job

A former police officer is demanding damages of £100,000 from News Group Newspapers over a story that appeared in The Sun branding her a "skiver".

Hina Parekh believes the story led to her being turned down for a job with security service MI5 just days after it was published

The police constable, who resigned in 2010 after six years with the Metropolitan Police, claims the article, headlined 'The Old Ill", was defamatory

She is also suing over an editorial headlined 'Sick of Skivers", saying the two articles – published on 28 April – claimed she was lying about the reasons behind her absence from work.

Parekh claims she was in fact the victim of a serious car accident early on in her career, had been bullied by colleagues and received insufficient support from the force.

Her doctor advised her not to report for duty on numerous occasions and signed sick notes to that effect, according to a High Court claim.

After she resigned she was given a certificate saying her service had been exemplary, and Commander Simon Bray gave her a handwritten note thanking her for her service, which said, '… you clearly did make a very valuable commitment to policing London…".

According to the writ, The Sun story also inferred she falsely claimed to have been racially harassed.

Parekh says she did suffer some racial harassment when working at Belgravia Police Station, although her main complaint was that she was bullied by colleagues there.

Parekh, who lives in Crawley, is also demanding damages for invasion of privacy, saying the story contained personal information by claiming she had taken 848 days off sick out of a possible 1,175 working days, suffering from stress and depression.

The information about her was so personal that it must have been supplied by someone within the Met who had access to her records, court papers say.

Although she had put some information into the public domain when giving evidence to support a colleague at employment tribunal proceedings, the editorial amounted to a misuse of her private information, she says.

Parekh says the story and editorial were unduly intrusive, including the use of a prominent picture of her and a request for a photograph of her in uniform.

Her job application to MI5 was turned down just days after the story appeared, although she had been specifically asked to make the application after the deadline, she claims.

Parekh is seeking an injunction banning News Group from repeating the claims, and from alleging she had made up false excuses for her absence from work, or that she falsely claimed to be the victim of racial harassment.