A GRIEVING father has claimed a High Court victory over Essex Police after a senior judge ordered the force to hand over files from the botched investigation into his son’s death.

Lee Balkwell, 33, was found with his head wedged between the drum and chassis of a cement mixer at Baldwin’s Farm, South Ockendon, on July 18, 2002.

His death was later ruled to have been a tragic accident but Essex Police was forced to apologise for a string of errors it made during the investigation.

Last year, his dad Les, 70, of Hornchurch, was given permission to sue Essex Police at the High Court.

However, he has had to fight for the disclosure of documents so that judges can determine just how badly detectives carried out the investigation.

At the High Court, Justice Michael Supperstone ordered Essex Police to hand over the files, including notes made at the scene, which until now have been absent or redacted.

Mr Balkwell said: “Essex Police say they are sorry for the appalling investigation into the killing of Lee Balkwell, but it is an empty apology, as the recent hearing in the High Court has shown.

“Instead of disclosing documents that would help the family go towards understanding Lee’s death, they forced us into court, causing more stress and pain to my family.

“The judge saw through this latest disgraceful attempt to cover up what happened, using local taxpayers’ money.

"We will continue to fight for justice for Lee until Essex Police come clean.”

Mr Balkwell was represented by top human rights lawyers Kirsty Brimelow QC and Alex Gask QC.

He added: "I would like to pay extreme tribute to my legal team because they committed such dedication and professionalism to the job they had to do.

"Kirsty was brilliant and very compassionate and Alex is as sharp as a razor.

"I would like them to know how much I appreciate it.”

An inquest into Lee’s death reached a verdict of unlawful killing, and his employer, Simon Bromley, was later cleared of manslaughter by negligence.

However, Mr Balkwell maintains his son was murdered by a gang of men linked to an organised crime group.

Miss Brimelow said: “It is disappointing that Essex Police added to Mr Balkwell's stress and upset by resisting this disclosure of documents relevant to their failure to investigate his son's death.

“Humane treatment of the bereaved remains fundamental in cases of this kind. Otherwise it can feel that lessons are not being learnt."

An Essex Police spokesman said: "Civil proceedings are active and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

Further hearings are set to take place in January.