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Rathband family: "We are disappointed, but not surprised"

The family of Pc David Rathband hit out at the 'arrogance and insensitivity' of Northumbria Police after they lost a High Court negligence claim against the shot policeman's former employer.

In a statement read out on behalf of sister Debbie Essery and twin brother Darren, they said David had been left alone on the fateful night when gunman Raoul Moat shot him.

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Northumbria Police respond to Rathband ruling

David Rathband

We are content with the Judge’s response to the actions of the police commander that night.

"This has been a sad and difficult case for all concerned. It was a tragic incident which occurred five and a half years ago and our thoughts have always been with David and his immediate family.

"The Judge has stated that Moat was a "resourceful and determined criminal and David Rathband was desperately unlucky to be the victim of his cruelty and hatred."

Moat's actions created an unprecedented situation for Northumbria Police but the Judge has recognised that operational officers have to make high pressure, complex decisions in tight time scales and in doing so they must focus not only on officer safety but on the safety and welfare of the public.

"To protect the public was the primary role of the police commander that night.

"The Judge, following detailed scrutiny of the events of that night, over a two week period, has stated that it was emphatically clear that PC Rathband had not been let down by Northumbria Police.

"We continue to wish David's family the best for the future and David will always remain in the heart of Northumbria Police."

– Chief Constable Steve Ashman

Rathband case judge: "It could have been anyone"

(l) Raoul Moat and (r) David Rathband

The judge in the civil case brought against Northumbria Police summed up his decision saying that "but if it had not been him (Rathband) it would probably have been somebody else".

The family of Pc David Rathband lost their civil case against Northumbria Police, after attempting to sue them for negligence.

Rahtband was shot and blinded by gunman Raoul Moat in 2010.

He later took his own life.

Moat was a resourceful and determined criminal, well capable of carrying out his threat, who remained at large for some days after PC Rathband was shot.

Regardless of the issue of any warning to be vigilant, PC Rathband’s bleak assessment was probably right.

He was desperately unlucky to be the victim of Moat’s cruelty and hatred, but if it had not been him, it would probably have been somebody else."

– Mr Justice Males

What the judge had to say:

  • Superintendent Farrell (Silver Commander at the time) had only 3½ minutes in which to do anything which would have averted the shooting. In all probability that was simply not enough time.
  • Even if a warning had been broadcast within that short period, it would have left PC Rathband with very little time, measured (at most) in seconds rather than minutes, in which to decide that he needed to move away from the position in which his vehicle was parked.
  • Unless he moved off almost instantaneously, a warning would not have averted his shooting.
  • The Judge referenced Rathband's book saying: It is worth referring to the emotion which PC Rathband described (in his book) in contemplating the likelihood that, if it had not been him who was shot, it would have been one of his fellow officers:

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David Rathband's charity plans to broaden its scope

The charity set up by David Rathband says it plans to broaden the support it offers to members of the emergency services.

The Blue Lamp Foundation was established to help personnel who are injured in the line of duty.

So far, it has concentrated on helping people with physical injuries.

The Foundation's chairman says it now wants to offer practical support to people coping with emotional trauma and mental health issues.

Peter Sweeney has promised to build on PC Rathband's legacy. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Peter Sweeney said:

"We can't forget the pain and suffering that David suffered personally.

The last thing we want is another member of the emergency services, injured in the line of duty, committing suicide because of the severity of their injuries."

Wife of PC Rathband issues statement

The wife of PC David Rathband has issued a statement following an inquest into her husband's death.

Kath Rathband said:

"Three-and-a-half years ago all of our lives changed irrevocably.

"David fought so hard to come to terms with the devastating injuries that resulted from the shooting and the effect it had on us all as a family.

"Whilst I have lost David, he has left me with two amazing children and he would be immensely proud of them and what they have achieved, as I am.

"He would also be proud of the continued work of the Blue Lamp Foundation, the charity that David started so that he and other people injured in the line of duty could seek help.

"I know that David would be delighted with what has been achieved to date and this will remain his lasting legacy.

"Many thanks goes to all those involved. I am honoured to be a patron of the charity and look forward to continuing the work that David began.

"It has been an immensely difficult few years for us all now that the inquest has been concluded I would like to ask for privacy for Ashley, Mia and myself so we can look to rebuild our lives while remembering David and all that he meant to us."

– Statement from Kath Rathband

Chief Constable insists Rathband was given police support

The Chief Constable of Northumbria Police has refuted claims that PC David Rathband was not given enough support at the time of his death.

In a statement, Sue Sim said:

"After considering all the evidence HM Coroner Mr Armstrong is satisfied that David took his own life. HM Coroner did not criticise any individual or organisation.

"David suffered life changing injuries at the hands of Raoul Moat when he was shot while out on patrol on July 4, 2010. He faced these challenges with bravery and courage, and it was his wish that he return to work as a serving police officer.

"There have been criticisms levelled at Northumbria Police during the inquest by some of David's family. We fully understand the family's grief at David's death but we must refute any suggestion that we failed to support David or that the support we provided was inadequate.

"Such allegations are totally without justification. We provided the highest level of financial, welfare and rehabilitation support to David, far in excess of any legal duty.

"At the time of his death, David was a serving police officer. I exercised my discretion to retain him on full pay following his injury.

"However, the force can only offer such support - it was entirely David's decision whether or not to accept it. He was often very busy with other commitments such that he failed to attend scheduled appointments.

"At all times, we treated David with compassion. We are confident that we did everything we could in these exceptional circumstances to support David financially, medically and in every other way possible.

"David was a valued and skilled officer. We all repeat our deep sadness at his death."

– Sue Sim, Chief Constable at Northumbria Police
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