Saturday, November 08, 2014

Former BBC director sues Marks & Spencer after wrongful arrest for meat theft

Timothy Robinson, a writer, serves a writ at the High Court after security guards accuse him of stealing peppered steak and call police

A former BBC director and producer who was wrongly arrested while shopping and banned from all Marks & Spencer stores is suing the chain for damages of £100,000.

Timothy Robinson, 51, was handcuffed, taken to a police station and accused of stealing £60 of peppered steak and a barrel of pork in May.

He was released without charge, however, when police saw footage of a different person, about 15 years younger, stealing meat from the store, according to a High Court writ.

Mr Robinson, who has produced and directed history and arts programmes such as Digging for Britain and Timewatch, says he was falsely imprisoned for six hours and is seeking damages for this, as well as for defamation, emotional distress and mental suffering.

He is also asking for £5,000 as compensation for his partner’s mental suffering and wasted time as he tried to secure his release, plus reimbursement of all the money the couple have spent in their local Camden High Street store since 2001.

The company’s security guards have breached the store’s duties of trust, respect and good faith, he argues.

On the day in question, Mr Robinson was approached by guards at the North London store he shopped in daily and shown CCTV stills of himself, before police arrived to detain him.

Mr Robinson, who recently took voluntary redundancy from the BBC and now works as a writer, alleges that the guards refused to show him the footage of the actual thief.

The retailer is contesting Mr Robinson’s claim, but has joined Securitas Security Services, the firm that provided the guards, to the action. If M&S is found liable to Mr Robinson, Securitas should pay any damages awarded, the company argues.

It says security guards should have followed the ASCONE procedure when apprehending a suspect, which involves watching the person approach the display, select the merchandise and conceal it, then observing them and witnessing their non-payment and exit from the store.

The retailer admits that Mr Robinson was banned from its stores but says the notice was withdrawn on May 27 and has asked him to prove his allegation that its staff made harmful claims about him to other customers.

It denies liability for his alleged false imprisonment or the actions of the security guards and the Metropolitan Police.

The store says it is not liable to pay damages for defamation, or emotional distress, or to Mr Robinson’s partner either.

Mr Robinson, an Oxford University graduate whose partner is a lawyer, said he had found the whole experience "bewildering" and "intimidating." He said: "I thought that maybe I was going mad. I couldn’t understand how this situation could happen. It’s just so bizarre.

"Since it happened I have received no apology from Marks & Spencer and they haven’t admitted guilt. "If they had initially said sorry and offered me some form of compensation and said they were looking into their security measures, I probably would have left it. But they haven’t done anything and those security guards are still working there."

An M&S spokesman said: "As this matter is part of ongoing legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate for us to comment."

Original report here

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