Woman loses bid to sue police after officers changed her clothes

Woman loses bid to sue police after officers changed her clothes

Woman loses bid to sue police after getting so drunk officers were forced to change her vomit-soaked clothes rather than leave her to ‘marinade overnight in her own bodily fluids’

A woman who sued the police after becoming so drunk officers were forced to change her vomit-soaked clothes rather than leave her to ‘marinade overnight in her own bodily fluids’ has had her case thrown out by a High Court judge.

Cheryl Pile was arrested by Merseyside Police on April 22 2017 for being drunk and disorderly after a taxi driver rang 999 claiming she had started abusing him and ‘kicking off’.

She was described as being ‘covered in vomit’ by officers and taken to a Liverpool police station, where four female officers removed her outer clothes and gave her a clean, dry outfit.

In his ruling, the judge said that at the police station, Ms Pile’s ‘befuddled attempts to give her details, including her own name, reveal that she was incoherent with drink’. The judge found: ‘The officers had used no more force than was strictly necessary to remove the claimant’s clothing and she was too drunk to understand what was going on’

Ms Pile – who later agreed to pay a £60 fine for being drunk and disorderly – brought a claim against the force, arguing they did not have the right to change her and had breached her human rights. 

In a ruling published on Friday, Mr Justice Turner dismissed Ms Pile’s appeal, which he said had been brought ‘to establish the liberty of inebriated English subjects to be allowed to lie undisturbed overnight in their own vomit-soaked clothing’. 

He said: ‘She had emptied the contents of her stomach all over herself and was too insensible with drink to have much idea of either where she was or what she was doing there (at the police station).

‘Rather than leave the vulnerable claimant to marinade overnight in her own bodily fluids, four female police officers removed her outer clothing and provided her with a clean dry outfit to wear.

‘The claimant was so drunk that she later had no recollection of these events.

‘It is against this colourful background that she brought a claim against the police in trespass to the person and assault alleging that they should have left her squalidly and unhygienically soaking in vomit.’

In his ruling, the judge said that at the police station, Ms Pile’s ‘befuddled attempts to give her details, including her own name, reveal that she was incoherent with drink’.

The judge found: ‘The officers had used no more force than was strictly necessary to remove the claimant’s clothing and she was too drunk to understand what was going on.’

Ms Pile also complained that officers breached her right to privacy by placing her in a cell monitored by a CCTV camera, which was rejected by the judge.

Cheryl Pile was arrested by Merseyside Police on April 22 2017 for being drunk and disorderly after a taxi driver rang 999 claiming she had started abusing him and ‘kicking off’ [File photo]

He said it was ‘fortunate’ that Ms Pile was being observed as, after she was left alone in the cell, she ‘lost her balance, fell over and banged her head on the cell floor’. 

She was taken to hospital and treated for her injuries.

He concluded: ‘The decision to monitor her cell and broadcast the footage to the custody suite was both lawful and necessary. Indeed, it subsequently equipped officers to see that she had fallen over and hurt herself so that she could be given prompt medical attention.’

Mr Justice Turner noted that ‘some members of the public may well have found it to have been a grotesque result if a woman who: has rendered herself insensible through drink; abused an innocent taxi driver; behaved aggressively to police officers trying to do their job and vomited all over herself should then be found to be entitled to compensation because those same officers, as an act of decency, had then changed her into clean and dry clothing at a time when she was too drunk to know or care.’

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