• Robert Spicer

Undercover Police Officer: Cocaine Use: Compensation Claim Against Employer


Claimant’s misconduct

Case AB v Chief Constable of X Constabulary [2015] IRLR 284, High Court

Facts AB was an undercover police officer who was obtaining intelligence on a serious organised criminal group. He misused cocaine during his work. When this was discovered by his employers he was offered alternative employment and granted ill health retirement.

He claimed compensation from his former employer for psychiatric damage on the basis that it had breached its duty of care by failing to provide him with appropriate support. He suffered from a chronic adjustment disorder. The employer argued that any psychiatric injury had been caused by AB’s own misconduct.

Decision 1. The claim was barred by the principle of ex turpi causa. To have allowed AB to bring a claim for psychiatric injury caused or inextricably linked with his use of cocaine would have compromised the integrity of the legal system and would have awarded him damages for the consequences of his own voluntary misuse of drugs.

  1. There had been no breach of the duty of care. The risk of psychiatric injury had been foreseen and the employer had conducted a risk assessment.

  2. The measures identified by the employer had been reasonable in the circumstances and properly applied.

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