‘Hollow victory’: Upminster scrap dealer needed surgery after British Transport Police wrongfully raided his business
- Credit: Archant
An Upminster scrap dealer was awarded £6,450 in a “David and Goliath” case against the British Transport Police (BTP) which has left him physically and emotionally scarred.
Alan Gowing, of FCR Metals Ltd in St Mary’s Lane, has been engaged in a long legal battle with BTP since 2012 when officers raided his company without a valid warrant and in an area that was beyond their legal jurisdiction.
In what Alan described as a “hollow victory” Sir Alastair McDuff gave a judgement in the High Court on Monday, June 18 for Alan to receive £6,250 with £200 interest from BTP.
In 2012, officers dressed in plain clothes visited Alan’s scrap yard, claiming they had powers under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 to look at his books.
Two weeks later the officers returned and used force to cut off security bars from the window, and arrest him.
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Alan was charged with 15 offences, two for obstructing police officers.
At the police station Alan claims he was assaulted so badly that he required hospital treatment and later surgery to his rectum.
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One of Alan’s customers, who happened to walk past the business at the time of the raid, was also charged with an offence.
In 2013 the customer was found not guilty and Romford Magistrates’ Court dismissed the case against Alan as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had no evidence to disclose.
Transport Police settled out of court with the customer, but took their case into the High Court for a judicial review of the case against the Alan.
The judicial review took place in 2013 in which the High Court was informed that the CPS had overwhelming evidence and it was in the public’s interest to continue with all 14 charges against the scrap dealer.
In May 2014, the CPS withdrew 13 of the 14 charges due to no evidence, and in November 2014 the final charge was heard in Romford Magistrates Court, where Alan was found not guilty.
Due to the serious injuries and loss of his businesses, which were shut down following his arrest, Alan started proceedings against BTP.
Since 2012 he has been represented by Gillian Temple from the Scrap Metal Dealers Association. Neither of them have any legal training.
She told the Recorder: “They came in without a valid warrant. The warrant was for a different business, it was addressed to FCR Metals Limited but instead they raided First Car Recycling – both of which were owned by Alan.
“[The officers] took him to the police station where they asked for his fingerprints.
“Alan said he hadn’t done anything wrong, but they took him into a room without CCTV and spent eight minutes torturing him.
“We’ve got footage of him screaming on another CCTV camera, saying ‘please don’t do this, this is human rights abuse’.”
Alan had to have surgery following an injury to his rectum which he says has left him with life changing injuries.
When asked to describe how he felt during his arrest, Alan said that he was, “concerned and frightened” and “it was utter torment”.
“I’ve been scarred by it,” he added.
A two week trial was heard in February 2018 which has resulted in today’s (Monday, June 18) judgement.
Andrew Waters of BTP, represented by Tom Holbrook, mentioned in court that Alan had been offered £20,000 by BTP but had refused this amount.
Alan and Gillian say they received legal advice at the start of case from a barrister who advised them that their case was worth £7.3million.
Gillian said: “This is not about the money, it’s about justice. Alan just wants them to say that what they did was wrong.
“We’ve got half of that with this judgement, as they’ve said that the warrant was void and they had no jurisdiction.
“Alan is not a criminal, but there was a criminal factor working here.”
Several other scrap dealers who have similar claims were also present in court.
“We will appeal, but it’s taken us five years to get this far,” Gillian added.
“It’s a David and Goliath case and this is historic because we will now be able to use this as case law.
“[The Scrap metal Dealers Association] will be representing other scrap dealers who have similar claims.”