Ipswich Town win latest High Court battle against Suffolk Constabulary over matchday policing costs

Stewards and police officers at Portman Road. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Stewards and police officers at Portman Road. Picture: SIMON PARKER

The row about matchday policing at Ipswich Town’s home games looks set to continue after the club was told it could seek compensation from Suffolk police over unlawful charges.

In the latest chapter of a long-running legal battle, a High Court judge ruled Town had a “cause of action in restitution” because the payments were made in response to a demand that police had “no lawful power to make”.

The judgment, issued on Monday, comes amid separate warnings from Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore over the “financial challenges” facing the force.

The case centres on payments the club made for police services when playing home games from 2008-13. Town had sued Suffolk Constabulary for £200,000 last year, claiming the charges for policing around its ground in Portman Road and Sir Alf Ramsay Way were unlawful.

However the judge ruled in July that the force was entitled to recover costs of policing these areas as they were classed “special police services” (SPS). Other costs incurred policing the wider area, however, could not be charged for.

The latest litigation saw the club seek compensation for the sums paid for these services, provided in the wider Ipswich area.

The club argued it was owed “restitution” because police had not been entitled to make such demands.

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Suffolk Constabulary, however, claimed it had undercharged Town for SPS when the contract was first agreed in 2008. By correcting that error, the force argued the total it would have charged for SPS would exceeded the sum for all its services.

Former Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Hamlin said at the first trial, the club could be “unjustly enriched at the expense of the police” due to the previous undercharging. The judge, however, said he found this argument “unconvincing” and concluded the club was able to seek compensation.

However he decided not to order compound interest, as the police had not used the overcharge to make a profit.

Suffolk police said an appeal was scheduled for June 27-28.

“Due to the ongoing legal process, it is not appropriate for the Constabulary to comment any further at this time,” a spokesman added.

A spokesman for Ipswich Town said: “This is part of an on-going legal process and we will not be making any comment at this time.”

Mr Passmore said: “As the appeal will not be heard until June I’m not in a position to comment while this legal process is on-going.”