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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 14:53 GMT
Ex-major loses case against MoD
Milos Stankovic
Milos Stankovic now faces legal fees of half-a-million pounds
An ex-Army major who claims his career was ruined after he was arrested on suspicion of spying has lost the bulk of his High Court action for damages.

Milos Stankovic sued Ministry of Defence police for, among other claims, "malicious initiation of legal process" and false imprisonment.

But on Friday a judge denied most of his claim, awarding him just 5,000, instead of the 1m he hoped for.

Mr Stankovic, 44, of Surrey, now faces legal costs estimated at up 500,000.

Sensitive information

Mr Stankovic, whose father was a Serbian, was arrested in 1997 under the Official Secrets Act on suspicion that, while serving as a Serbo-Croat interpreter for senior British Army officers in Sarajevo he passed sensitive information to the Bosnian Serbs.

He was subjected to two criminal investigations - one by the MoD police, and the other by the Royal Military Police. At one point he was detained in a police station for almost 12 hours.

The allegations that we were motivated by malice and abused our position...have been completely rejected by the court
Statement from MoD police

Mr Stankovic was removed from the Joint Services Staff College in Berkshire where he worked, and later "sought and obtained premature release" from the Army.

Compensation

The major, who has won war medals and was given an MBE by the Queen, went to court to demand compensation understood to be of the amount of 1m for the loss of his career, salary, pension, and unpaid legal fees.

He alleged the MoD police were guilty of "malicious initiation of legal process", "malicious procurement of a search warrant", false imprisonment, misfeasance in public office and negligence.

But Mr Justice Saunders, sitting in London, ruled against him on those issues, awarding him 5,000 in relation to trespass of goods - seizing and removing items outside the terms of a search warrant.

It emerged that Mr Stankovic had earlier refused an offer of 100,000 to settle the case.

During the investigations, officers interviewed more than 100 witnesses in Britain and abroad. But neither of the two investigations, which cost more than 250,000 in total, found any evidence of espionage.

"Entirely justified"

The MoD police, in contesting the action, said it was no part of their case that Mr Stankovic was guilty of the offences, but argued that there had been "reasonable grounds" for suspicion, that the investigation was "entirely justified" and that officers had acted "properly and lawfully throughout".

In a statement after the case, the police welcomed the judge's findings that overall their conduct of the investigation had been "fair and proper".

"The allegations that we were motivated by malice and abused our position...have been completely rejected by the court," the statement continued.

Mr Justice Saunders said the case represented "a considerable personal tragedy" for Mr Stankovic.

Mr Stankovic was not in court to hear the judgement, and it is not know whether he will appeal against it.

SEE ALSO
'Ruined' war hero's damages claim
22 Oct 07 |  Berkshire



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