Court rules taxi driver falsely accused of rape can receive compensation in legal first
By Luke Salkeld
21st May 2009
A taxi driver falsely accused of rape could receive a five-figure compensation payout after winning a landmark victory.
Clive Bishop, 49, says his life was ruined after a drunken 17-year-old passenger claimed he attacked her.
Kirsty Palmer later admitted she made up the allegations and was jailed for ten months for perverting the course of justice.
When he applied for compensation, Mr Bishop described how months of living under a cloud of 'slurs and lies' had caused him enormous suffering.
But the foster carer was twice refused a payout by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on the grounds he had not come to physical harm.
That ruling has now been overturned on appeal - the first time the authority has agreed to compensate for the mental trauma of a false criminal accusation.
It is not known exactly how much he will receive but his lawyers estimate it could be up to £10,000.
Mr Bishop, who has fostered ten children with his wife Sue, picked
up Palmer in his taxi from a nightclub in February 2007. The mother of two was drunk and had already been sick.
But only hours after dropping her at her home, police arrived at Mr Bishop's house at 4.30am and arrested him in front of his wife on suspicion of rape.
Mr Bishop said: 'I kept trying to explain to the police that it was nonsense.
'But I kept being told to shut up. I was in shock but convinced that they'd realise I hadn't done anything and let me go.'
Mr Bishop was questioned for 12 hours before being subjected to 'humiliating' intimate forensic examinations and bailed. His taxi was also seized for forensic examination and he was under police scrutiny for a further three months.
Ostracised by his community, Mr Bishop says he tried to return to driving his taxi, but found himself unable to find work.
Months later, Palmer confessed that after being locked out of her house in her drunken state she had knocked on a neighbour's door and falsely claimed she had been raped.
But despite her admission, Mr Bishop was twice refused compensation because he had no physical injuries.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority overturned those decisions last week at a closed hearing in Taunton, Somerset.
Mr Bishop will now undergo a psychological evaluation to determine the amount he will be eligible to receive before officially applying for compensation later this year.
The amount he gets will depend on the psychological damage he suffered from the incident as well as his lost earnings.
Yesterday Mr Bishop, from Walton in Somerset, told how he had been 'to hell and back'.
'It's been such a difficult time for me and my wife,' he said. 'They claim you are innocent until proven guilty but in reality that is not the case. People always assume the worst and we had to live with three months of slurs and lies about my character.
'That is why this ruling is so important to me - I could not ever drive a taxi again so this decision will make a huge difference to my life. I'm just so very happy and relieved.'
His lawyer Russell Pearce said: 'It is a landmark case - especially for all those who have suffered the extensive trauma that a false allegation can bring.
'This now means that in the future other people will be able to make an application, which is very important.'