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 Silver badge

    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. Mycho Silver badge

    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





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