25th September 2017


The Thames Valley Police Force have settled a substantial claim in negligence, assault and under the Human Rights Act brought by the family of Habib 'Paps' Ullah, who died during a stop and search in July 2008. TVP have also issued a formal apology to the family (see enclosed letter)

This has been a 9 year battle involving two inquests (the first one collapsed after the officers were found to have amended their statements), public police misconduct proceedings and proceedings in the High Court. Additionally, the family have had to challenge decisions made by the IPCC and the CPS, arising out of the IPCC investigation.

"For almost a decade, TVP has put my family through pain and hardship. We are pleased to be able to finally put this matter behind us and to move on with our lives. At the end of the day nothing will being back Habib but at least we know in our hearts that we did everything we could to fight for him, and to try and get justice and answers."

Nasrit Mahmood, Habib’s sister

The family campaign has held regular vigils, public meetings and demonstrations in High Wycombe. Justice4Paps has supported other families in Thames Valley who have experienced a death in custody or after contact with the police most notably the family of Philmore Mills who died in 2011 in Slough and recently the family of Leroy Junior Medford who died in Reading in April 2017. (see enclosed campaign timeline)

“We were determined to ensure that no stone was left unturned, even if it meant questioning the conduct of Thames Valley Police, the Police Federation and the IPCC investigation, all of whom needed to be challenged. It's been a hard fought battle, but it was important for us as a family to secure finality in the process.
Other families must not give up hope after a death like this. It is crucial you fight for the truth and ensure where possible, anyone responsible is held to account and that lessons are learned by the various institutions involved in the process.

We would like to take this opportunity to call on the Home Secretary Amber Rudd to release the long delayed report by Dame Elish Angiolini into deaths in custody. We participated in this inquiry, and the continuing delays are not just frustrating, but illustrative of how families of the deceased are consistently mistreated by those in positions of power”.

Zia Ullah, Habib’s cousin

The family and the campaign wish to place on record their sincere and heartfelt thanks to their legal team, Marian Ellingworth, Hind Ibrahim and Kosar Mohammed at Tuckers solicitors and Anthony Metzer QC and Adam Gersch counsel from Goldsmith Chambers for helping to achieve vindication of their claims at the inquest and following the settlement of the civil claim.

“Achieving the outcome we did would not have been possible without the determination, bravery and persistence of the family and the Justice4Paps Campaign. They faced many obstacles, but they never gave up hope and refused to buckle, despite the attacks on ‘Paps’ character, manipulation of evidence and delays.
Their experience, like so many other families who have had loved ones die following police use of force, illustrates all that is wrong with the investigation process and the response of the police to inquest findings. Thames Valley Police, as well as the IPCC must understand that the speed and manner in which they respond to such incidents is vital to securing public confidence.”

Hind Ibrahim, Family’s Lawyer, Tuckers Solicitors

“This was a highly disturbing case of a death upon detention of a vulnerable family man in a public place where there were serious and repeated allegations of assault and admitted breaches of training perpetrated by the police officers who then were totally unable to recognise that their actions, which almost certainly resulted in him suffering positional asphyxia, placing his life at risk and they then demonstrated a shocking level of incompetence in respect of aftercare, with such tragic consequences”.

Anthony Metzer QC of Goldsmith Chambers, Counsel at the second inquest and lead counsel in the civil claim

The campaign are committed to continuing to support other families particularly in the region and are documenting the experiences families face in such cases.

'What is worrying for us is that since Pap's death in 2008 that there have been more deaths in Thames Valley and more cases of alleged police brutality. Nationally just in the last few months there have been yet more deaths of black men following police contact. It seems that they are taking place with complete impunity. In this context it's vital that we tell our story about the impact that the death has had on the family and the wider community.'

Saqib Deshmukh, Justice4Paps

We would also like to thank the other families that have given us their support during this time and organisations such as INQUEST for their ongoing help.

“This has been another unacceptably protracted process with the associated stress and trauma this brings to bereaved families. The apology and settlement has only come about as a result of the family’s determination to see some semblance of accountability for this preventable death. Thames Valley police and the IPCC should review the way in which they respond to deaths in their custody so that such delays and defensiveness are not repeated.”

Deborah Coles, INQUEST


Notes to editors:

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.
Further information:

Zia Ullah: Family contact 07597873614

Saqib Deshmukh: Media enquiries  07766464358

© Justice4Paps 2017

Any unauthorised use of the content in this media release will be challenged.  This includes cutting and pasting of any of the material.