A fatal crash that saw two men die on an icy Bucks road following “ineffective” police assistance was not the fault of officers, a court has ruled.

Thames Valley Police cannot be held liable for the deaths of Malcolm Tindall, 64, from Aylesbury and Carl Bird, 29, from High Wycombe, who died in a head-on crash on the A413 Wendover Bypass in March 2014.

In the crash, on a stretch of the road near Great Missenden, Mr Bird lost control of his vehicle on black ice and collided with Mr Tindall’s vehicle, which was travelling in the opposite direction.

About an hour before the fatal accident, another driver crashed on the same stretch of road. Police visited the scene, placed a ‘Police Slow’ sign in the road and cleared the debris, before leaving and taking the sign with them 20 minutes before the fatal accident.

READ MORE: Men died in horror crash after 'police failed to close icy road'

On January 18, 2022, Lord Justice Stuart-Smith upheld the claim that a public authority does not owe a duty of care when it has intervened but failed to improve a situation.

In his judgement, Judge Stuart-Smith said: “In general the duty of a public authority is to avoid causing damage, not to prevent future damage due to causes for which they were not responsible.

“Mere arrival of a public authority upon, or presence at, a scene of potential danger is not sufficient to found a duty of care even if members of the public have an expectation that the public authority will intervene to tackle the potential danger.”

Valerie Tindall, the widow of Mr Tindall, sued Thames Valley Police following the fatal crash, and in 2020 TVP’s application to strike out the claim was dismissed.

Last week, in the Court of Appeal in London, three justices gave a verdict in favour of the force, reversing the previous judgement.

During the hearing, the court heard that after police arrived on the scene of the first crash, the injured driver warned officers about the black ice on the road, but the officers failed to identify where the ice was.

The court was also told that officers called for a gritting vehicle to cover the road but it never arrived, and that this call may not have been made with enough urgency.

Lord Justice Stuart-Smith described the police intervention as “a paradigm example of a public authority responding ineffectually and failing to confer a benefit that may have resulted if they had acted more competently.”

READ MORE: Former church warden who tortured and killed Bucks lecturer set for appeal

He added: “The police were confronted by a dangerous stretch of road which (it is to be assumed) they had power to render less dangerous by a competent response.

“They failed to take steps that might have prevented harm being suffered but they did not make matters worse: they merely left the road as they found it.”

“What occurred was a transient and ineffectual response by officers in the exercise of a power. It did not involve any assumption of responsibility to other road users in general or to Mr Tindall in particular for the prevention of harm caused by a danger for the existence of which the police were not responsible.”

In response to the judgement, a Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “We note the decision in the Court of Appeal in this tragic case and the clarity of the decision as to the law.

“Our thoughts remain with the families of those involved.”

Listen to the NEW Thames Valley Crime and Court podcast now, covering Bucks, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Click here to listen for free.

For more of the latest court and crime news from around Bucks, be sure to sign up to the FREE weekly Crime & Court Catch Up

And don’t forget to join the Bucks Crime And Court Watch group on Facebook to keep up with breaking crime news and the latest outcomes from Bucks courts