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Scotland Yard has been forced to pay out up to £120,000 in compensation and legal fees after holding an innocent Crouch End couple and two friends at gunpoint in a bungled swoop.

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Nick Fairbairn and his wife Ruth were travelling home to Crouch End with friends James Barber and Claire Clarke when armed police surrounded their Renault Clio believing it was linked to an armed incident.

One officer was alleged to have used the butt of his gun to smash the driver’s window before the occupants were dragged from the car in Harrow, north-west London.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) apologised and agreed to pay compensation to the four of more than £23,000. The force, which called the incident “an honest mistake”, is reportedly also footing the bill for legal costs, estimated to have reached around £100,000.

A Scotland Yard statement said: “The MPS settled the civil claim brought by the occupants of the car amicably by way of an out-of-court settlement on February 20, 2012, to the satisfaction of the parties.

“The settlement was on a non-admission of liability basis but the MPS apologised for the distress suffered by the claimants.

“This was an honest mistake involving a fast-moving incident on April 19, 2010, in Harrow. Immediately after the incident a senior police officer apologised to the individuals at the scene.”

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