16th June 2015

Shaw House, Newbury

Habib “Paps” Ullah, a 39 year old father of three, died when he was stopped and searched by police on 3 July 2008 in the Sharrow Vale area of High Wycombe. In the course of being forcibly restrained, Habib suffered a cardiac arrest. In March 2015 a jury returned a comprehensive and highly critical misadventure and narrative conclusion in relation to the level of force used to restrain Habib Ullah and the lack of appropriate after care provided by police.

Almost seven years later and after two inquests into his death a misconduct hearing took place in Newbury. This is only one of two public misconduct hearings under the old regulations. In future all such hearings will be held in public after the Home Secretary’s directive last year.

Family of Habib Ullah said:

“We are disappointed about the outcome of this Hearing but it does not reduce our desire to keep fighting for answers and justice. In our view it was clear that those officers brought the Thames Valley Police Service into disrepute and that the decision not to discipline officers in any way was not an appropriate one in our view.

That the officers were exonerated of all wrongdoing goes against the IPCC investigation and the serious failings that were raised at both the Hearing and the previous inquests.

The family are pleased however that the misconduct hearing of the officer's involved in Habib’s death took place in public. Whilst we still have grave reservations about the role of the IPCC in the whole investigation it is nevertheless a significant step to have this hearing take place in front of us in the manner that it has. However the whole disciplinary misconduct process is questionable when officers are not challenged adequately about their conduct and the process of writing their statements,

There are still many questions to be asked about why on the night that Habib died there was no Post Incident Management in place straightaway and we are still not clear about what happened in the immediate aftermath of his death and the role of senior officers such as the now Chief Constable Frances Hapgood and the Police Federation. There are still question marks about the legal firm that the police used and the advice that they were given about their statements.

Also with all the talk about restoring ‘confidence in the complaints' system it needs to be remembered that this is an employment process and we are still hugely concerned that we and many other families are still being failed by the Crown Prosecution Service and the legal system when it comes to getting justice”

Deborah Coles, Co-Director of INQUEST, said:

Given 'the breathtaking changes' to the police officers accounts it is astonishing that senior police officers hearing this case have found no misconduct. We can fully understand family and public frustration that once again it appears that the system for holding police to account has failed to deliver justice and accountability. This decision brings the police disciplinary system into disrepute. 

Marian Ellingworth, family’s solicitor, said:

‘It has been a long and painful battle for my clients. I am continuing to advise them on the legal remedies available to them. There remains serious concerns of the officer’s conduct. It was the officer’s suppression of details in their statements that made the whole process so long drawn out and painful for the family.’

INQUEST has been working with the family of Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah since his death in July 2008.  The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Marian Ellingworth from Tuckers solicitors.


Notes to editors:

  1. The Justice for Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah/Justice4Paps campaign was set up in July 2008 after the death of Habib during a routine stop and search in a car park in High Wycombe. So far the campaign in partnership with family members have organised thirteen vigils in the town centre/Police station, a demonstration through the town, five public meetings, and attended national and regional demonstrations against deaths in custody. For further information please visit http://justice4paps.wordpress.com/
  2. Contact information:

Zia Ullah  Family contact   07597873614
Saqib Deshmukh Volunteer information worker 07766464358
Marian Ellingworth Tuckers   07763920125 / 020 7388 8333