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Lecturer takes Mopac to court over plans to axe more than half of London's police stations

Sam Tobin is at the High Court

A LECTURER who was rescued from a vicious attack in his own home by police officers stationed just 200 metres away took his case to the High Court today in an effort to block a decision to close more than half of London’s police stations.

Paul Kohler, 59, a senior lecturer at SOAS, University of London, was brutally beaten by four men during a burglary in Wimbledon in August 2014.

The attack was only stopped when a police officer jumped on one of his assailants “just as he was about to bring a heavy wooden door down on [Mr Kohler’s] head”.

Mr Kohler — who described himself as a “born and bred Londoner” — said that “the only reason he survived the assault … is because the officers were able to get to his house so swiftly from Wimbledon police station” eight minutes after his daughter called the police.

He is now taking London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Office for Policing and Crime (Mopac), which is proposing to close 37 of 73 police stations in the capital, to the High Court.

He argues that the consultation process — described by the Independent Consultation Institute as the “worst consultation of 2017” — and the subsequent decision were unlawful.

David Wolfe QC, for Mr Kohler, said his client had been the “victim of a very violent and serious assault in his home which would have been much worse if he wasn’t rescued.”

He said that, while Mr Kohler was particularly concerned with the proposed closure of Wimbledon police station, the consequences of the decision “affect London as a whole.”

Mr Wolfe added that deputy mayor Sophie Linden’s decision had been made in a “state of confusion and chaos.”

Mr Kohler told the Star that the recent rise in violent crime and murder in the capital “has shown how unwise and foolish these decisions are.”

He added: “This is the result of Tory cuts … coinciding with Tory cuts in the Metropolitan Police, you are seeing a rise in crime, particularly violent crime. I would argue there’s a correlation.”

Jonathan Swift QC, for Mopac and the Met, said the decision was lawful, adding that the deputy mayor “gave conscientious and careful consideration to the consultation responses.”

Mopac says it stands to generate £164 million from selling the old police stations, as well as saving £8m in running costs.

The hearing continues.

 

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