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Scotland Yard has lost a legal battle with Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed over documents its solicitors sent to him by mistake regarding his ongoing litigation against the police for wrongful arrest
Al Fayed was arrested in March 1998 on suspicion of theft or criminal damage of a Harrods safe deposit box. In October 2001, the police mistakenly sent Al Fayed's solicitors, Lewis Silkin, documents containing counsel's opinion of why the Harrods proprietor should have been arrested. Scotland Yard successfully injuncted the use of the arrest opinion in March 2002 but Al Fayed has just won an appeal to keep hold of these crucial documents. The documents were produced by the Crown Prosecution Service and copied to the police. Scotland Yard claimed they were mistakenly sent to Lewis Silkin. According to the judgment, Lewis Silkin did not become aware of the mistake until January 2001 when it was informed by counsel. "There was no reason for Lewis Silkin not to think that the police solicitor had a proper system of checking the documentation," the judgment states, overruling the March injunction. Since Al Fayed's arrest in 1998, from which he was released without charge, he has claimed that the arrests were wrongful and that Scotland Yard is liable for false imprisonment. Al Fayed's case against the police was heard last week. The judgment has not yet been handed down. No one was available for comment.