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Police union opposes brawl payout

Injured: Sen. Const. Matt Butcher. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

The WA Police Union says officers around the State will be outraged if the Government tries to settle legal action brought against injured policeman Matt Butcher by one of the men found not guilty of attacking him in 2008.

Robert McLeod and his sons Barry and Scott were all cleared of assaulting police during a brawl outside a Joondalup pub where Sen. Const. Butcher was hit by a flying head-butt that left him permanently paralysed.

Mr McLeod is now seeking unspecified damages for serious injuries that he claims he suffered as a result of being "wrongfully" tasered by Sen. Const. Butcher in the same incident.

It is understood Sen. Const. Butcher was told this week that settling the case was an option being considered by the State Solicitor's Office and government insurer RiskCover, ahead of a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Monday.

Police union president George Tilbury said it would be a "kick in the guts" to every police officer if the Government "rolled over" and refused to keep fighting.

"This legal action must be vigorously defended, and the State Government needs to assign its best resources to the case," he said. "The McLeods don't deserve a cent. Anyone that views the footage of the incident at Joondalup would be appalled, particularly with the serious injuries inflicted on Sen. Const. Butcher."

Robert McLeod was contacted by _The West Australian _yesterday but declined to comment.

In a writ lodged in the District Court in 2011, he accused Sen. Const. Butcher of wrongful battery, claiming the use of the Taser was not "authorised, justified or excused by law".

The writ also claims the weapon was "fired in anger".

Mr McLeod had a heart attack during the incident and was in a coma for three days. He claimed he also suffered from post-traumatic stress and had been unable to work since the incident.

The writ was lodged soon after Sen. Const. Butcher was awarded a $3.3 million payout by the Government as compensation for his injuries. Mr McLeod's lawyers have previously said they would not seek to access any of that money if their case was successful.

Then deputy commissioner Chris Dawson said when the writ was lodged that the legal action would be "vigorously defended".

A police spokeswoman said yesterday there was no evidence there had been any change to that position.