back to article Panicky Plod apologises to Innocent Terror Techie

A Reg contributor who was unlawfully arrested and had his home PCs inspected by the Met has received an apology from the police after four years. David Mery was wearing a coat "too warm for the season" and was carrying a laptop - according to the police who arrested him at Southwark Tube station, the day after the second wave …


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  1. Winkypop Silver badge

    Hang on

    I was always taught that Britain WON against the NAZIs....

  2. The Original Ash

    4 years...

    For wearing a warm coat.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I for one...

    Am very very happy not to be a "free UK citizen" Here in Iran we are at least open about our over zealous and insecure police.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Incredible timeline

    His write-up of the timeline sounds pretty fearful - Well done to him for sticking with it for so long, though.

  6. Steven Raith

    I was wearing a trenchcoat and backpack...

    All through that summer, as my normal short jacket was knackered and awaiting a bit of needle-and-thead based TLC.

    I never got stopped once, although I did get funny looks from commuters.

    I must have a trusting face, or something.

    Steven R

    [yes, I regretted wearing a trenchcoat in summer, rather a lot - sweaty sweaty...]

  7. Dan 10

    "Public Nuisance"

    The article says he was co-operative, but presumably they must have had *some* tenuous reason for declaring that he was a public nuisance? Surely even the Police can't stretch it as far as an inappropriate jacket constituting a public nuisance?!

    Coat, obviously.

  8. Ian 71
    Thumb Up

    Well done David

    I've been following your blog closely. You are amazingly tenacious - congratulations on taking on the bureaucracy and winning.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe the real story happened earlier

    Was this some sort of high level mandated response by the police to somehow lessen the outcry by the public about the killing of an innocent commuter one week earlier?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    reminds me of.....

    .....The not the 9 o'clock news sketch

    "Wearing a loud shirt in a built up area".

  11. David Lee
    Black Helicopters

    Fashion Police

    I can see why the police stopped him, wearing a coat in summer the day after suicide bomb attacks, however the subsequent treatment is well out of order.

    However does this means the boys in blue are now baton wielding trinny and susannahs? Am I gonna get CS gassed in the face for wearing boot cut instead of straight cut jeans? Are we now subject to arrest if we are wearing a coat that is in last seasons colour? Are all my sartorial choices now subject to criminal sanction? If so, im fucked as im one of lifes scruffy buggers! I think we should be told.

    The coppers have had a talking to? They will be pissing themselves laughing in the pub after this. The police do themselves no favours these days do they. Every day you will see stories such as this. Is it the quality of recruits? I know you dont actually need any qualifications to be a copper, but does that mean they actually have to employ fucking morons? Do they have a quota for employing the mentally challenged? Or is it just that we see reporting of the fuckwits in blue doing their stupid/bullying/criminal shit?

    Thing is, I actually know quite a few coppers in a variety of forces. All of them are decent folk and Im pretty sure they are good coppers, and I dont imagine they are much different from most (well one of them might not be above giving scumbags a shoe-ing etc etc to be honest!)

    Perhaps a few stories of police doing decent things for change, for a bit of balance. Or do these stories not exist?

    A.C. ....well, some coppers are bastards, dont want Gene Hunt round my house.... though Alex Drake is welcome anytime!

  12. Paul 4

    @Mark 57

    On what basis would that be? See the reply from the Met about unlawful arrest. THEY WERE WRONG.

    Do you realy think that shooting people because the police think they are a terrorist is ok, and that people should be thankfull the police didn't shoot them for no reason at all?


  13. Graham Marsden

    Four years...?

    Well at least it was quicker that Turings apology...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If he had broken the law, admitted that he made a "technical breach" he could have got away with a fine and paid for it on expenses.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compulsory title: balls

    He is lucky he didn't run to catch his train

  16. david 63

    Wearing a brightly coloured shirt... a built up area.

    And to think we laughed at Constable Savage 20-odd years ago.

    (and he turned into that nice man with the canoe)

  17. Eden

    I acutally stopped wearing my leather trenchcoat

    After being stopped 3 times in one week (twice at Kings Cross, once at Euston), I finally gave up wearing my trenchcoat and started wearing my far more dangerous leather biker jacket (Lots of armour and bulky enough to hid nasty things in).

    Not been stopped since :)

    That said I also started riding my bike in a few months later :p

  18. Jacqui Smith's DVD Collection!

    @ Mark 57

    Don't believe the hype, more people get killed on London's roads in a year than the last century of terrorism.

  19. Stef 4

    And in America?

    So he gets a nice letter from the Met.

    How much in $ would he get if the situation had been in the US?

  20. Daniel 4

    @David Lee

    There are two reasons I can come up with that the "good copper" stories don't get published. One, being basically decent to the public is what they SHOULD be doing, so even if 999 out of a thousand cases are of this sort, they're still all "dog bites man" stories. Ho-hum. They don't make good news because that's what they should be doing.

    The second is related; except in cases of true heroism, no one bothers to report such stories to the news. Hell, when I was a teenage kid my car died with an electrical problem in the middle of a 5 lane street. I was in the turn lane, didn't look out of place, so it wasn't until I rolled down my window and waved frantically at a passing squad car that I actually got any attention. When the cop did come over and find out the problem, he a) blocked traffic, b) helped me push my car off the street, and c) gave me a ride home. All he was required to do was a). Did I call the papers? No. I did tell friends and family though. It's also the one event that reminds me that not all coppers should be strung up from trees; it's just the ones that should that you end up hearing about.


  21. Steven Jones

    Admiiting mistakes

    All agencies are going to make mistakes at times, especially after the panic and worries that arose as a result of the bombings and the attempted repeat a fortnight later. Some of those mistakes are going to be fatal. Systems will go wrong, guidelines produced quickly in an environment of stress will go wrong in practice, and in some cases they will be applied by some not-very-competent or experiecne people. Some of those mistakes will be fatal, and also there will be those who misuse the situation.

    However, the absolutely the gold standard of any civilised and democratic society is what happens later within powerful institutions. The immediate, and almost automatic reaction in any bureaucratic organisation is going to hide within the system. It's incredibly difficult within such organisations to find individuals that can, or will, take responsibilities for mistakes. The responsibility gets spread and becomes institutionalised. Kafka knew this - it's hardly a news thing.

    However, what really needs to be addressed here is just how long it takes for organisations such as the police here to be held to account and admit that they basically over-reacted and assessed the situation wrongly. There were excuses - the panic that was arround at the time and a lot of unknowns, like the real extent of the threat. That's the bit that needs dealing with - the way in which mistakes are dealt with and changes made. Commercial organisations ultimately get hit by loss of custom - with outfits like the Police, we don't get much choice and the whole system relies on democratic controls (which are singularly lacking in this case).

  22. Julian I-Do-Stuff


    Anyone know if it is legal to use appropriate force to resist unlawful arrest? Naively I would suppose that an illegal arrest, being not an arrest, just becomes plain assault by a police officer and assault by anyone is surely grounds for reasonable defensive action.

    Not sure I would try it even if the answer is yes, but it would be nice to know

    < Mine's the seasonally appropriate one

  23. Adam Williamson 1

    stef 4

    The letter does say "I hope that the settlement in this case can bring some closure to this", which seems to imply the letter wasn't all he got.

  24. Bad Beaver

    Freedom is a warm coat.

    Or: London – I used to go there.

    I sure hope he received proper compensation, even if it will be fuled by taxes of the people of Hysteria.

  25. Asgard
    Big Brother

    "Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free"...

    "Thine equal laws, by Freedom gained, Have ruled thee well and long"

    Now it should be, "papers please."

  26. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    LOL at road death toll (see comment above)

    Don't believe that hype. In a year, a lot more people in the UK die of other causes than road traffic accidents.

    Ergo, road traffic accidents are to be disregarded? Surely not.

  27. Adam 52 Silver badge


    Yes, you may resist unlawful arrest. However you'll discover that the Met can *and will* bring more force to bear than you can. The advice from the Courts is, therefore, to sue.

    You'll also find that the Met nearly always wins the cases that go to court, even the ones that look hopeless. If you do the analysis you'll note that there is one particular judge that takes almost all of the cases involving the Met., and he always finds in their favour (although sometime overturned on appeal).

    I suspect if David had gone to court then he would have lost.

  28. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Re: "Public Nuisance"

    Well, with enough lateral thinking, he *did* cause the closure of a metro station. Sorta kinda. I guess it was the ground for the arrest.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Adam Williamson 1

    You're right.. How much?! How much?! Come on reg you can tell us... I want to know how much a false arrest is worth - it might be worth dressing oddly.

    Regarding the seasonally inappropriate coat - i think the PC's had watched "The Day of the Jackall" the night before - that's how they found the sniper!

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. CTMOD

    Obligatory Pratchett remark

    He was done for loitering within tent.

    Coat, tentflap, etc

  32. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    The Met

    They can't come out for a burglary but damm can the come down hard on coat wearing in Summer.

    What they (and the Government's senior law officer, Baroness Scotland) don't get is it's *not* the incident, it's the handling that sticks in people's craw.

    This is an act by an over zealous policemant (I'd call him trigger happy but mercifully most UK police do not carry guns as a rule) who should have apologised within a day. And being a non-crime should not have needed DNA retention either.

    Thumbs up for sticking to it. This is the only way to change Police behaviour. One complaint at a time.

  33. Ermie Mercer

    @Adam Williamson 1

    Maybe the letter was part of the settlement. It often is in cases like this in the US.

  34. theloon

    Sue them for goodness sake!

    Dude you need to get some payment out of this.... and the officers need to be dismissed from the force.

  35. Brett Leach

    Re: Defence? Not in the antipodes mate.

    Transit cops were giving a commuter a hard time here recently. A Seriously over the top hard time. A young woman attempted to intervene and got herself bent backwards over a stair rail with an arm across her throat for her troubles.

    Top transit cop's media response essentially translated to an admission of excess with respect to the first commuter. But no sympathy for commuter #2, who should not have attempted to interfere with an on duty officer. (unspoken but strongly implied: 'whatever that officer was doing.')

    As for resisting an unlawful arrest in your own person, I susspect you'd be well and truely fooked, because the moment you try, you've automatically committed the offense of resisting arrest. And enormously multiplied your chances of (repeatedly) "falling down the stairs".

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On death rates

    55 British people a week die in accidental falls.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Absolutely fucking disgusting!

    So you're sorry, for the distress? 4 years of it?! You send your little letter, apologise and walk away from it all, meanwhile this guy, who did nothing more than wear a large coat on a warm summer day, has to spend the next few years piecing his life back together?

    A disgrace to the Met and this country's so called history of freedom.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Original Ash can't read...

    He didn't get 4 years in jail for wearing a warm coat, it took 4 years to get an apology and the DNA records expunged.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    Dismissed???? Are you kidding?

    These halfwit flatfoots never get dismissed - they can't get a real job so they join either the army or the police.

    And the police just close ranks and do nothing.

    The worst they'll get is suspended on full pay for a month.

    No wonder nobody has any respect for the police nowadays.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Hope this never happens to me...

    Almost every piece of IT equipment I own is encrypted, not because I have anything to hide but because if the unthinkable happens and I'm burgled, or robbed of my laptop, I want that small peace of mind that comes from knowing the thieving scum may have my hardware but they won't have my address books, passwords or personally identifiable data to do with as they please.

    On the other hand, if the authorities ever confiscate my gear on a desperate trumped-up premise like they did to this poor bloke, what are they going to think when they see encrypted drives all over the place? I'd have no problem with handing over the keys to prove there's nothing shady stored within, but by this time they may well have drawn their own conclusions using the "no smoke without fire" legal framework and choose not to believe a word I say.

    Not a scenario I relish.

  41. Robin Szemeti

    Process map?

    The linked article on how to delete your DNA from the record says:

    To avoid others having to go through this same situation, I shared these concerns with the SCD12 Senior Information Manager. The outcome: "An exceptional case process map will be available on the MPS Publication Scheme early 2008."

    looking through the MPS Publication scheme documents, it doesnt appear they have published such a process map yet.

    or maybe they did .. and someone deleted it?

  42. raving angry loony

    police state

    The police state is just around the corner folks. In the UK and USA, it's become not only common, but ACCEPTED that the police will lie, cheat, and otherwise do whatever they want. From falsifying statements to making up the rules as they go along, when the police are unaccountable then we have the start of a police state. When caught, nothing happens to the officers involved, and nothing happens to those who gave the orders. They're free to get away with it again. That's called being unaccountable.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Fucking politicised pigs. Fuck off.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    M. Mery was guilty of being foreign while tubing in London. He is lucky to still be alive.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Rita, Sue and Bob too?

    "Yes, you may resist unlawful arrest. However you'll discover that the Met can *and will* bring more force to bear than you can. The advice from the Courts is, therefore, to sue."

    Unless you're a solicitor, no? Scroogle 'arrested a solicitor' or 'arrest a solicitor' and see how many hits you get. Now I'm not suggesting that one should pretend to be a solicitor - that's going to get you into very hot water indeed - but it does strike me that the police will try it on with anyone they suspect doesn't know the law.

    Besides, why are the courts giving this kind of advice? Surely they're not just touting for business?

  46. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    Need a police website...

    ... telling you which coat is OK to wear that day.

    Paris, because she wouldn't put up with this crap.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The usual...

    This is uite a lot better than the usual trite non-acceptance jargon

    "lessons have been learnt"

    "We are studying the result..."

    "We are disappointed with..."

  48. Dave Mundt

    Congratulations on standing up to city hall!

    Greetings and Salutations..

    I am glad to see the update on this disgraceful situation, and to see that there is finally some recognition by the government that they were in the wrong. While I would not hold my breath while waiting for this to actually CHANGE their behavior, it is a good point and perhaps may do something to slow the descent into a Totalitarian Police State.

    Terrorism is an awful thing, and should be condemned where-ever it raises its ugly head. However, for the government to use that excuse to suddenly consider every citizen to be a dangerous enemy of the state, and, to move on to implement the record keeping, constant surveillance and tight control of a Totalitarian Police State is a horrible way of dealing with the problem. This sort of reaction, and the way the government acted to attempt to PROVE the rightness of their actions in this example, simply means that the terrorists are winning.

    The only way we (both in America and Great Britain) can truly win against terrorism is to maintain our free society in spite of it.


    Dave Mundt

  49. Rob O'Connor

    Panicky Plod?

    I thought this story was about a new version of Ubuntu when I first saw it!

  50. dervheid
    Big Brother

    only three words




  51. unitron

    Once I got down the page to his photo...

    Obviously he committed the unpardonable offense of "being vaguely foreign looking" which led directly and inexorably to the second unpardonable offense of "providing the police with an opportunity to make themselves appear foolish".

    Mine's the one with the warning label that says "Never run for a train whilst wearing this garment".

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lucky for him

    He wasn't too tall, wearing too loud a shirt (after the hours of darkness), in possession of an offensive wife or caught walking on the cracks in the pavement, or he really would have been in trouble.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: payments

    From experience I know that a 14 hour unlawful arrest is worth £1,500.

    Some of the other things range from £1,000 to about £3,000 So I'd imagine that he and his wife receieved around £15,000 between them.

  54. Charles Manning

    Request to destroy DNA samples

    Isn't that the same as asking to be kicked in the balls?

  55. Catkins

    All this because the police won't admit a mistake

    What creeps me out is the lengths the police went to to cover up a mistake. No one is disputing the police's initial action in checking him out. They quickly discovered he was innocent, and actually asked him to wait in the station so he could receive a proper apology for his treatment from a senior officer. Someone then took the decision that rather than apologise, they would arrest him for being a 'public nuisance', hold him in custody, raid his home and remove his stuff, and take photos of his wife.

    And the penalties faced by the police? The Superintendent in charge retired so no action could be taken against him for misconduct. A junior officer also faced no sanction as he was only obeying orders. Two PCs received 'words of advice' relating to performance of duties and another received words of advice for abuse of authority. (In case you're wondering, 'words of advice' is one of the lowest sanctions an officer can face - it's a quiet word and not entered on the officer's record). One officer received a written warning to be kept on his record for 12 months (it would have been removed over a year ago).

    Despite these findings, the police fought this until the bitter end, and if you look at Mery's blog, you'll see that until August 2009 they were still refusing to hand over the pics they'd taken of his wife. It's a tribute to his tenacity that he's got as far as he did.

  56. Anonymous Coward

    @Rob O'Connor

    Panicky Plod?

    "I thought this story was about a new version of Ubuntu when I first saw it!"

    Ha ha without doubt the funniest comment

  57. ShaggyDoggy


    good job he wasn't taking pics at the time ... oh yes

  58. Dale 3

    Incredible restraint

    I am very impressed. When I saw "57 comments" at the bottom I was expecting to see 57 references to shooting; turns out there were only three. That, plus just the one tedious Paris-because note, I think demonstrates magnificent restraint on the part of the readership. Role models in these troubled times, all of you.

  59. ShaggyDoggy

    Dale 3

    The article isn't about the shooting, it's about the police apology after 4 years delay.

    Please do try to keep up

  60. Spleen

    @Dale 3

    Yeah, why won't people just get over that? As if it's such a big deal. Come on guys, it's not like you've never emptied an entire pistol magazine into the back of an innocent man's head as the culmination of an extended amphetamine-fuelled fantasy that we're Mel fucking Gibson. What kind of society would we live in if killing people had consequences?

  61. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: @Dale 3

    Easy now, Spleen - I don't think anyone's suggesting it wasn't a very big deal, it's just that it's not quite relevant here.

    If I can get through today without having to moderate a great big scrap I will be very happy.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I'm splitting me sides

    "What creeps me out is the lengths the police went to to cover up a mistake."

    Yeah well they've never falsified evidence, perjured themselves and generally tried to murder justice before now have they?


    Birmingham 6


    Winston Silcott



    Funny how this kind of nonsense always increases when there's pressure to get a conviction isn't it?

    Really, really fucking funny.

  63. Matthew Collier

    RE: Being a solicitor...

    ...I'm not sure it would help all that much, judging by some of the actions of the cops here (and associated links), despite the members of the public involved seeming to have a very good grasp of the law also....

  64. Anonymous Coward


    If you don't like what they're doing then film them, get their badge numbers & then complain about them. If more people did it then there'd be less of this ( kind of smug berk and his "I don't like what I'm hearing so I'm just going to ignore you" approach to policing.

    I'd love to see how he coped with a shop assistant who just ignored him when he wanted something from them. I bet he'd have a complete fit.

    Public servants, my arse.

    Complain here:

    Go on, do it - you'll feel better and they might - if they get enough of a browbeating - bloody well do something about it.

  65. Trevor 10


    I remember a case involving Daniel Cadden who was stopped for cycling to the right of the white lane marking the edge of the road and told to cycle to the left of the white lane, Daniel pointed out that riding to the left of the white line was actually against the highway code and what he was being asked to do was illegal.

    He then made the mistake of writing the office sargent asking that the officer be trained in the highway code - understandable desire on his part although prehaps asking for trouble. He was then prosecuted for some offense or other and it turned out that you can't make a complaint against an officer (or least the chance of it being up held is dramatically reduced) if you have been convicted of the crime you are complaining about because it is assumed it is a case of the criminal trying to get revenge on the officer.

    This case has all the same hall marks to me, good chance the guy might have complained, lets make sure if he does his name is already mud.

    If you plan on complaining, make sure the coppers don't know about it until well after the event.

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