Met admits "unlawful arrest" of innocent man at Southwark tube station

David Mery, who was detained at Southwark tube station in July 2005, has received an apology and compensation from the Metropolitan Police for unlawful arrest and overnight detention.

Blackfriars Road
Police vans in Blackfriars Road on the night of the arrest of David Mery
David Mery
David Mery holding his letter of apology from Ch Supt Wayne Chance pictured outside Southwark Station. Picture reproduced with permission

Mr Mery, who worked in Blackfriars Road, was arrested on 28 July 2005 when London was on high alert after the 7 July bombings.

He tells the story on his blog: "Just over four years ago, I entered the tube station without looking at the police officers who were standing by the entrance. Two other men entered the station at the same time. My jacket was allegedly too warm for the season. I was carrying a backpack. While waiting for the tube, I looked at people coming on the platform, I played with my mobile phone, I took a piece of paper from inside my jacket.

"The police found my behaviour suspicious and instigated a security alert. They surrounded me. They asked me to take off my backpack. They handcuffed me in the back. They closed and cordoned off the tube station. They stopped and searched me under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. They emptied my pockets. They loosened my belt. Explosive officers checked my backpack, gave the all clear and joked about my laptop. The handcuffs were taken off (for a few minutes) and some of the stuff I was carrying in my pockets was given back to me.

"This should have been the end of the matter. Instead, an officer informed me "[I] was under arrest on suspicion of causing a Public Nuisance". They then took me to Walworth police station. They processed me. They took photographs, DNA samples, fingerprints and palm prints. They searched our flat. They interviewed me. Nine hours later I was granted bail. One month later when I surrendered to custody, they said they have decided to take no further action. It takes a further month and half to get my possessions back. Three months after the arrest, the Police National Computer was still listing me as under arrest."

During the incident on the evening of 28 July 2005, a 100-metre cordon was put up around the tube station and nearby residents were told to go inside their homes. Restaurants on Isabella Street were evacuated and Blackfriars Road was lined by police vans.

It was only when Mr Mery saw the pictures of the police cordon in Blackfriars Road published on this website in September 2005 that he realised the scale of the operation that had been mounted.

Mr Mery pursued the matter via the Metropolitan Police's directorate of professional standards and the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Eventually he launched a claim against the police.

At the start of this month he received compensation from the Metropolitan Police and a letter of apology from Chief Superintendent Wayne Chance, the Southwark borough commander.

"I would like to apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service for the circumstances that arose on 28 July 2005 including your unlawful arrest, detention and search of your home," wrote Chief Superintendent Chance.

"I appreciate this has had a deep and traumatic impact on your lives and I hope that the settlement in this case can bring some closure to this.

"I shall ensure that the officers concerned are made aware of the impact of the events of that day and also the details of the settlement in this case."

• David Mery has placed a comprehensive timeline of events on his website: http://gizmonaut.net/bits/suspect.html

Earlier this year we reported on the story of Elephant & Castle artist Reuben Powell who was arrested whilst working and held at Walworth police station for five hours.

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