September 23, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

The implications of wrongful arrest

Yesterday's Guardian ran the story of the wrongful arrest of David Mery on its front page, a story he's written up in a lot more detail on his site.

Comments (14)

  1. foursgiant:
    May 06, 2009 at 08:18 PM

    Hylton Red House Estate Sunderland
    The electoral registers for Sunderland North contains incorrect
    voter registration numbers printed in the columns alongside voters
    names, one particular period from 1958 to 1961 shows that these
    numbers cannot be common human error as during this period the
    housing estate was covered by two separate electoral wards and
    both of these wards show the same and also similar errors in voters
    registration numbers for this one particular estate. At first the
    mistakes may appear to be just common human error but when the
    errors in both wards for this one estate are seen together it shows
    that human error is not the case and the error numbers have been
    placed intentionally.

  2. chris:
    Apr 09, 2009 at 11:47 PM

    In answer to you Naweed, on allegations of sexual assault - I too was arrested and held for 7 hours at Newquay police station. It is a bogey that never goes away - much to my detriment. I was released on bail for 3 weeks, and I hadnt done a bloody thing - however, I do respect the police for carrying out their duties, although I think 5 coppers to get one innocent bloke was a tad excessive. Live with it mate, I am trying for compensation, but after my experience in the cells and interrogation, just look at the trees in leaf, feel the wind in your hair and love your freedom, because all else pales into insignificance. Beleive me, freedom is such a beautiful thing - f##k the coppers and all those who made the allegations, just enjoy life - that is what I do and I have come to terms with it. Aint worth wasting solicitors money. All your real friends and family will understand - I have wasted probably in excess of £600 in order to protect myself from further allegations and recriminations. I hope I will never have to use the documentation that I have prepared, as it will probably break up my family - however - and this is important - your life has probably shrunk down to looking after yourself, following your arrest and I daresay you want to stay out of jail. You probably don't give a damn who you hurt, just as long as you stay free and keep your freedom. I don't blame you - people who throw stones wihout knowing or understanding should themselves be put under the microscope and be arrested, because opinions and thoughts don't count for f##k all in the eyes of the law. All that does is destroy lives and upset people who matter to you. Well, friend, go in peace and i hope my ramblings have helped you. I am fortunate, as my TRUE friends, family and my beautiful wife have stood by me and they understand - the other fu##ers can go to hell as far as i am concerned, as they obviously dont care, never have done, nor ever want to.

  3. deeanne:
    Oct 02, 2007 at 11:23 AM

    My son was arrested last year for sexual assault. It turned out that it was fabrication from the witness statements and also the forensic evidence. My son was 12 years old at the time, and the girl was about 10/11. Apparently it was some kind of revenge thing? which is beyond me. It took six months of us going backwards and forwards to the police station, each time getting no further forward and being bailed for another month. He had a terrible christmas and birthday waiting for the outcome. Eventually one day we turned up and were just told - there is no further action!
    However, this young girl and her family are currently waging a hate campaign against us and torment my son in every way possible - he cannot leave the house, and almost every night these kids torment my son by banging on the doors and windows, and throwing tomatoes, eggs, etc, all over our house front.
    Although my solicitor assures me there was no evidence whatsoever to connect my son with what happened it seesm that it is sticking. I am currently trying to sell ym houe and leave the area. but would appreciate any advice from anyone who can suggest anything which may help. Does he also have to tell future employers, etc, about this arrest? He is pretty suicidal at the moment. Luckily his school are vry understanding and helping him to deal with his anger, bnut is there any way out of this?

  4. Becky:
    Oct 05, 2007 at 10:38 AM

    Hi to all those who have commented on this thread.

    We appreciate everyone's comments. However, ORG isn't (yet!) an appropriate forum for discussing or seeking advice on individual legal situations. In addition to Suw's earlier suggestion that people concerned about how the law surrounding wrongful arrest affects them should contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau (, those who feel they have been directly affected by wrongful arrest can consider contacting legal aid.

    Legal Aid in England and Wales:

    Legal Aid in Scotland:

    Legal Aid in Northern Ireland:

    For those who wish to continue discussing this post, please go ahead. But remember:

    1) ORG is not a legal advice service
    2) ORG is a *digital rights* advocacy group
    3) ORG really isn't a legal advice service


    Becky (Executive Director - ORG)

  5. p.j. williams:
    Apr 08, 2007 at 12:01 AM

    The people in this country have absolutely no idea how much illegal surveillance goes on as the police pay the private intelligence agencies millions of pounds to collect pointless information. I can tell you that i have been under surveillance for at least 15 years. Since 1998 they stepped this up to 24hrs 7 days a week as i have prefabricated phone calls and meeting only to find mappa agents sat next to me in coffee shops sometimes even wearing microphones. Phone intercepts and micro phonic recordings are then played to police to substantiate further contracts , the scale has been enormous and no doubt you will read about the entire operation when i expose this to the media.
    Ever conceivable bugging device and techniques that will eventually be exposed and potentially put the security services at risk. for years i have portrayed myself as a dangerous criminal, yet the police cannot see that no crime has ever been committed..................look out for me in the times

  6. John:
    Jun 09, 2007 at 01:59 AM

    I was the witness to a road traffic accident. I informed the driver of the vehicle responsible for the accident that I had witnessed his bad driving and that I would wait for the police to arrive. The driver grabbed me by the throat. I pulled his arms away from my neck. He claimed to the police when they finally arrived that I had assualted him by grabbing his arms.

    There were several other witnesses present who could have verified my story to the police. I was actually driving my partner to the doctors at the time of the accident and she was having a miscarriage.

    II stated to one cop who attended that I wished to leave my details as a witness and infomred him that I needed to leave as I needed to take my partner (who was sitting in the car waiting for me) to the doctors. This cop showed no concern for my partner and told me not to go anywhere as an allegation had been made by the driver that I had assualted him. I explained to the cop what had actually happened and envited him to go and speak to several independent witness. He refused and carted me off to the poice station. I was held in a police cell for 5 hours worried to death about my partner. Finally the cop returned, I made a statement and the cop infomred me that the driver had decided not to press charges against. I was therefore released without charge.

    When i got home I found my partner in a distressed state and she informed me she had had a miscarriage while I was in the police cell. I had done nothing wrong, on the contrary, I had examined the motorcyclist who was involved in the accident (I am an advanced first aider) and had also directed the traffic to prevent any further accidents.

    The cop could have spoken to the independent witnesses and got the true story at the scene. He chose not to speak to others and instead spoke to just the driver who made the allegations against me and to his son. Based on their comments I was arrested. The independent witnesses were never questioned by the police. Luckily, I gathered their names and telephone numbers before I was taken away by the police.

    The cops took my fingerprints, DNA and photo at the station. I did nothing wrong..I was actualy defending myself from the driver who had his hands around my throat. Self defence. I am the one who ended up being arrested for assualt. I am concerned now that I will have to say yes to any job applications etc when asked the question 'have I ever been arrested'. I feel the whole incident could have been resolved at the scene if the cops had simply spoken to the eye witnesses. They refused to do so.

    Any advice on this matter and what, if anything I can do, would be greatly appreciated.

  7. Jamie Westwood:
    Jun 28, 2007 at 01:00 PM

    John - have you considered bringing a civil action against the police for wrongful arrest - or against the man who made the false accusation - or both? If you have the names and addresses of witnesses, they should be able to back you up. Also (in the UK at least) prospective employers are not allowed to ask you if you have ever been arrested, or to withhold a position from you because of an arrest that did not lead to conviction. They have no means of checking anyway (records of arrests which did not lead to conviction inaccessible are not viewable to anyone outside the police force.).

  8. Suw Charman:
    Jul 10, 2006 at 01:55 PM

    Amy, if you're talking about David Mery's arrest, then I'm afraid I have to disagree with you. Arresting someone on such spurious grounds does nothing to keep you safe - if anything it makes you more unsafe because the time and resources taken up by wrongful arrests mean that there are fewer police available to tackle real crime. David wasn't being a public nuisance, nor was he behaving suspiciously. Arresting someone on a whim is harrasment, and we are supposed to be free from that sort of thing here in the UK.

    As for his data, as an innocent man why should his data be kept on the police database? Why should his DNA be kept? You have a right to privacy, just as David does, just as I do.

    Finally, I do not accept that the police were, in this case, just doing their job. I do not believe that we have police in order to arrest people on the underground for having a rucksack and sitting down.

  9. Neil Michael:
    Aug 03, 2006 at 11:39 PM

    Too few people worry about this sort of thing until it either happens to them or someone they know. I've been beaten up by police, although oddly enough - I can understand why they did it. With the information they had received at the time, I was probably worth beating up. But the information was wrong. My heart goes out to decent coppers who want to catch villians, not waste their time with punters like me. But there is a sad fact of life we all have to live with - and it's that there is always going to be an element employed by the police who are as thick as pigshit, and are just incabale of using their noodles when it comes to questioning someone about an incident. My advice to anyone is to at all times stay calm. Most of the coppers you will ever be dealing with are decent human beings who are only acting on the orders and intelligence they have been given, in among all the other dross they have to deal with. Given the abuses of power that do occur from time to time, get to know your rights, know the number of a decent lawyer and always make a point of calmly reminding the enthusiastic state-sponsored thug in a police uniform who is refusing to have any kind of conversation about your rights. Sadlt, the reality about most civil rights abuses is that there is very little you can do at the time - your only recourse is likely to be based on the strength of your determination to get back at them after the event. I've been assualted by coppers and beaten the shit out of, but have never taken action because of the way the poeple involved have dealt with the matter, and in my humble experience, it is not always just a matter of thuggery. The cops have a job to do - and the quicker anybody accepts this quicker one can move on from what has happened. This may sound a bit whatever but that's up to you.

  10. naveed:
    Jan 17, 2006 at 06:49 PM

    i was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault which i never did but later cleared wil this affect my record on the crb.

  11. Suw Charman:
    Jan 20, 2006 at 06:33 PM

    I am sorry that we can't give you specific legal advice about issues such as this. Whilst we hope in the future to be able to pass such enquiries on to lawyers who might help, at the moment we can't. I'd suggest you visit your local Citizen's Advice Bureau for advice.

  12. Amy:
    Jul 09, 2006 at 01:46 PM

    I agree that the police force and British laws are not brilliant. However, i find your complaint is lacking purpose. The police were attempting to keep the british public at the train station safe. Yes, you were innocent but what if you weren't? Are the police not to arrest and investigate someone that they suspect of having suspicious behaviour and being a public nuisance just because there is that chance that the person is innocent and will complain of injustice? Keeping your records is a precaution that the police must take, it is entitled in the law and your belongings will be returned after the investigation has been completed and everyone concerned is happy with the results.
    Personally, I feel safer when I know that the police do take action towards ppossible offenders. The real problem is when the offenders are protected by the law and nothing can be done to protect the victims. I am truly sorry that you were the unlucky innocent in this but even you must accept the police were just trying to do their jobs and protect the public.

  13. cath:
    Oct 10, 2006 at 04:48 PM

    I find this worrying indeed. He comitted no crime and the case is closed so there is no reasson for his DNA to be kept.
    The arguments don't stand up. Innocent people should not be treated the same as criminals.
    Police should be able to arrest people for good reasion of course, but they should not be able to abuse the system to build up a DNA database which includes details law abiding citizens. That's a sure way to alienate people and cause distrust. (more than already exists)

    It seems DNA is being gathered by stealth.

  14. Innocent:
    Oct 19, 2006 at 10:25 AM

    I was arrested on suspicion of Dangerous Driving as 4 people witnessed against me that I was driving when I had an accident with a friend although I was the passenger and my friend was driving (BTW these 4 people were drinking at the time the police officer asked them if they want to testify and I alerted him to that and he did not listen to me. I was also called a fucking pakie by one of them)

    2 months later I went to the police station as that was my attending time and I was told that "No Further Actions will be taken against me, reason being Insufficient Evidence"

    My questions now:-
    Do I have to mention this everytime I fill a job application, credit agreement, or any other application? Or shall I just ignore it as No Further Action has been taken against me?

    Please help as I am so worried