Guardian's former education editor Donald MacLeod wins Met Police compensation for brain damage - Press Gazette

Guardian's former education editor Donald MacLeod wins Met Police compensation for brain damage

A Guardian journalist left brain damaged after his bicycle was hit by a police car answering an emergency call has won his damages action at the High Court.

Donald MacLeod was cycling home to Stoke Newington, north London, after drinking two small glasses of wine with a friend in El Vino wine bar on Fleet Street, when the accident happened in March 2010.

The 63-year-old father-of-three was in a coma for several weeks and now needs round-the-clock care.

A former editor of Education Guardian, he brought the claim against the Metropolitan Police through his wife Barbara.

MacLeod, a keen and safety conscious cyclist who used his bike daily, was wearing a helmet and a high-visibility jacket with his bicycle lights illuminated, said Judge Martin McKenna, who ruled there could be no question of contributory negligence.

At the point where MacLeod was hit – at a mini-roundabout in Canonbury – the road had narrowed and he would have contravened the Highway Code if he had ridden on the pavement.

It was the responsibility of the police driver, who was on his way to a shooting in Hackney with three other officers, to pass MacLeod safely, and the cyclist could not be criticised for failing to take measures to avoid the impact, despite the car's siren and flashing lights.

The officer, who entered the roundabout at 55mph, was driving at an excessive speed in circumstances where he could not bring the car to a halt in time to avoid the accident and contrary to the Met's own policy.

Sitting in London, the judge said: "The manner of his driving plainly fell below an acceptable standard and he failed to drive with such care and skill as was reasonable in all the circumstances.

"His speed was high and consistent with a desire to get to the rendezvous point as his priority rather than safely. The reality is that he would have arrived at the rendezvous point within the expected response time if he had driven to the speed limit.

"But for the breach of duty the injury to the claimant would not have occurred."

Following the ruling on liability, the amount of damages will now be assessed if not agreed.

MacLeod started his career at the Durham Advertiser and the Chronicle, and also spent time at the Scotsman and the Independent.