Police have made a “substantial” compensation pay-out after releasing an innocent man’s photograph in a press release about a rapist.
As reported by HTFP last October, the Oxford Mail published an image of 33-year-old Daniel Rodriguez-Lay in a story about violent sex offender Daniel Rodriguez, 38.
The image was supplied to the paper by Thames Valley police and Mr Rodriguez-Lay, from Bristol, later launched a defamation case against the force.
Now his solicitor has disclosed that an out-of-court settlement has been reached and a compensation payout agreed.
The error occurred after the Mail reported that Rodriguez, from Kidlington, near Oxford, had admitted four firearms offences, having previously admitted three counts of rape and one of sexual assault.
The newspaper also apologised to Mr Rodriguez-Lay for the error although it published the photograph in good faith.
Mr Rodriguez-Lay said: “The first thing I knew about this was when I started receiving calls and text messages from my family and friends back in Oxford. They were asking what I had done.
“They thought I was a rapist. I was sickened by what that man had done and that people thought it was me.”
His solicitor Kevin Donoghue said: “The fact that the press reports were local to Daniel’s family and friends, and described such brutal, grotesque, and deeply immoral crimes, means that the damage to my client’s reputation and the distress, hurt, and humiliation he suffered were significant.
“My client has received an apology from the police and settled his claim out-of-court for substantial compensation. By publicising the award he hopes to ensure that anyone who saw the original reports is now properly informed.”
A police spokesman said: “Thames Valley Police is sorry for the error we made in incorrectly releasing a photograph of Mr Rodriguez-Lay. We immediately apologised to Mr Rodriguez-Lay and subsequently followed this up in writing.
“We are pleased that this matter has now been fully resolved for him. The force would like to apologise for any distress caused by this error and reassure the public that measures have been taken to mitigate against the possibility of this happening again.”