16/04/2012 17:45 BST

Police Officer Sultan Alam Wins £800k Compensation For Malicious Prosecution

A police officer who was wrongfully sent to prison as a result of a malicious prosecution brought by colleagues is to receive a total compensation package of more than £800,000.

But ex-Pc Sultan Alam left Leeds County Court on Monday, saying: "It was never about the money."

Cleveland Police admitted liability after they were sued by Mr Alam, who has fought for 17 years after he was wrongly prosecuted and convicted.

He was jailed for handling stolen goods in 1996, two years after first being accused of "car ringing".

He served half of his 18-month sentence behind bars and, once free, began the long battle to clear his name while working as a taxi driver.

That culminated in 2007 with him being cleared by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Alam, 49, will receive a total of £841,430 from Cleveland Police, the court heard.

This figure includes various types of damages plus an amount to compensate for the earnings he would probably have made if he had remained as a police officer.

In the civil case Mr Alam brought against the force, the Chief Constable admitted malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office.

Speaking outside court, Mr Alam said he was relieved the case was at an end.

Asked about the size of the payout, he said: "To me it's just a number. It was never about the money. It's about the principle. It's about what's right.

"All that it will do is ensure that my future financially is secure and my children's future is secure but that would have happened anyway if I had been allowed to continue with my career."

Mr Alam said: "Seventeen years that should have been spent with family and building a career serving the public have instead been spent fighting for my rights as an individual and fighting for justice against what, at times, appeared to be insurmountable odds."

He added: "I have had to endure years of shame and humiliation and a stain on my good name - a name which I can trace back through 12 generations.

"Not only did I lose my career - I lost my freedom, my family unit, my reputation and my health and much, much more."

The court heard how the former traffic officer was "stitched up" by fellow officers as a result of industrial tribunal proceedings he launched in 1993 complaining of racial discrimination.

In 2003, four fellow officers involved in Mr Alam's original prosecution were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and other offences, but were acquitted.

Mr Alam, the son of a Pakistani police officer and the father of two girls who were eight and six when he was convicted, separated from his wife in 2002 as a result of the turmoil the case brought to his family life.

He remarried but his second marriage failed under the pressure of what had happened and his resulting psychiatric illness.

After being cleared in 2007, he was reinstated to Cleveland Police but retired in 2009 on health grounds.

Mr Alam told the court he was concerned he was still under surveillance by Cleveland Police.

He told Judge Andrew Keyser QC how he confronted a photographer last week who later got into a marked police car.

He said: "If anyone wanted to dig up any dirt on me it will be fruitless unless, once again, they wanted to create it out of thin air."

Fiona Barton QC, for Cleveland Police, told the court she could neither confirm nor deny that Mr Alam was under surveillance but warned that this was a standard response in any case where this was alleged.

Outside court, Mr Alam said the worst aspect of his 17-year ordeal was the effect it had on his family and his personal life.

He said: "This was a sophisticated, deliberate and malicious act and all because I wanted to be treated as an equal. That's all."

Mr Alam said he believed nothing had really changed at Cleveland Police since his conviction but he said: "The majority of police officers out there are decent, honest, hard-working people."

And he said he would not discourage young Asian people from joining the police.

He said: "Do it. But do so with your eyes open.

"No-one should think they can't break the glass ceiling at any organisation. But you must do so in full knowledge there will be difficulties.

"But you must be prepared to deal with those difficulties. Only then will the climate change."

Mr Alam said the final compensation figure for his loss of earnings was worked out on the probability of him reaching various ranks, including superintendent.

He said he is now planning to take up a role as a public servant, but would not give any further details.