A NORTH-EAST police force is facing a massive compensation claim from a former officer, who was convicted and jailed for a crime he did not commit.

Traffic officer Sultan Alam was dismissed from Cleveland Police after being found guilty of handling stolen car parts in 1996. Mr Alam, who had made claims of racial abuse against his force, always maintained his innocence and served half of an 18-month jail term.

After his release, he launched a legal bid to clear his name and, in 2007, the Appeal Court overturned his conviction. It found that serving police officers deliberately suppressed evidence that could have cleared the Asian officer’s name. Mr Alam returned to work but retired on health grounds after two years.

Yesterday, the Cleveland force admitted liability for destroying Mr Alam’s life and career – leaving it facing a bill for nearly £1m.

Since his initial arrest in 1994, the father-of-two always claimed he had been set up.

However, the trial of four officers charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and other offences collapsed in 2004.

In 2006, Mr Alam won a court case after claiming he had been racially discriminated against by the Police Federation.

He was refused legal support on three occasions by the federation as he tried to clear his name.

However, the four officers were given the federation’s full support during their criminal proceedings for perverting the course of justice.

Control room Inspector Steve Bakewell, former Detective Inspector Russ Daglish, and Detective Constables Martin Eggermont and Stewart Hopson were acquitted at Newcastle Crown Court.

Mr Alam’s legal team told a hearing at Middlesbrough County Court that he was entitled to a substantial award of exemplary damages as “the officers responsible for the wholly unlawful conduct in this case were never punished – the full extent of the criminal and disciplinary sanctions applied were that one of them suffered the loss of three days’ pay”.

The long-running legal battle has its roots in Mr Alam’s claim he had been set up in a car-ringing fraud as a result of his complaint to Cleveland Police after a Ku Klux Klan poster was left in his intray.

The ordeal of his imprisonment was made worse after other inmates discovered that he was a former police officer and resulted in him being moved three times for his own safety.

The fall-out continued after his release. He separated from his wife in 2002. A second marriage failed under the pressure of what had happened and his resulting psychiatric illness.

Mr Alam’s legal team are seeking £480,000 in general, aggravated and exemplary damages and special damages of £366,820, making a total of £846,820. The figure does not include legal fees.

At the hearing, his barrister, Hugh Tomlinson, said: “This is an assessment of damages hearing in a case brought by Sultan Alam against the chief constable of Cleveland Police, a case in which, remarkably, malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office have been admitted by the chief constable.”

Mr Tomlinson said his client was entitled to substantial damages as he missed out on possible promotions “because of the outrageous wrong-doing of fellow officers”.

His team argued: “The quantum of his award of general, aggravated and exemplary damages should, quite rightly in view of the misconduct involved, be one of the highest ever made by an English court in a case of this kind.”

The case was adjourned, as two full days would be needed for the hearing, which will take place in Leeds at a later date.