A former member of the Nigerian High Commission is suing the London Metropolitan Police (the Met) for raiding his London Home after police suspected it was a Cannabis factory.
Ikechukwu Nwokike, a former minister and head of Political affairs at the Nigerian High Commission in London, and his family are suing the Met Police for £250,000, claiming that officers entered their home illegally, causing distress.
The Met has apologised for raiding the house in Barnet in 2010 after it was suspected of being a cannabis factory when a police helicopter’s thermal camera picked up high heat levels coming from the roof.
Officers found out, however, that the diplomat had turned up the heating because his family was cold.
On a second occasion, less than a month later, Policemen investigating a murder claimed they entered the house after noticing the garden gate, front door and a window were open and feared that it was being burgled.
The family, however, reported that officers were discovered going through documents in Mr. and Mrs Nwokike’s bedroom.
Court papers lodged with the High Court say that officers involved in the first raid noted that the house had screened windows, a CCTV camera and a “shabby” appearance.
Mr. Nwokike, on the other hand, says, “the premises have CCTV as they are a diplomatic mission and are not shabby”.
Mr. Nwokike and his wife Stella were not present for the first raid but their sons Emmanuel and Oyekachukwu were handcuffed and their teenage daughter,
Shirley hid upstairs and allegedly tried to jump out of a window to escape the officers.
The family, who are thought to be back in Nigeria, say that because the home was a diplomatic residence, the raid was unlawful even though the policemen had a warrant.
They are claiming reputational damage, which Mr. Nwokike says led to him earning less on retirement and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Met and the Foreign Office have apologised and the Met says the errors warrant “nominal damages” because the illegality of its actions had been admitted and apologies made.
The Met also claimed the family initially demanded £1.6 million in compensation.
The action is ongoing as the Met is contesting the claim.