Festival Chiefs Win Police Appeal

The Mean Fiddler Music Group on May 3rd successfully appealed a £300,000 bill from West Yorkshire Police for the officers working the Leeds site of the 2003 Carling Weekend.

In what may be a groundbreaking ruling, Lord Justice Baker said that according to the law as it stands, the work the force did could not be described as “special police services” and therefore could not be recovered from the event promoter.

MFMG has run a Carling Weekend in Leeds since 1999, and requested and paid for police services until 2003.

That year, there were no police inside the music arena and Mean Fiddler argued that it shouldn’t have to pay for the work the police did outside it.

Lord Justice Baker said the ruling had implications for major events and any large gatherings of the public.

He said the court was being asked to decide on the dividing line between services the police must provide as part of its public duty and special services provided at the request of promoters, for which promoters must pay.

“There is a strong argument that where promoters put on a function such as a music festival or sporting event which is attended by large numbers of the public, the police should be able to recover the additional cost they are put to for policing the event and the local community affected by it,” Lord Baker said.

“This seems only just where the event is run for profit. That, however, is not the law,” he ruled.

Allowing the appeal, he said it had not been established that a request had been made for “special police services” at the three-day event at Bramham Park near Leeds in 2003.

Baker said it was for the promoter to decide, after negotiation, what special police services it wanted. Otherwise it would have no choice but to pay the police for whatever scale of operation they chose to mount.

– John Gammon