One of the contributory factors to our blog posting How many "terrorist suspects" do you know ? How many "terrorist suspects" know you ? on 1st August, was the shocking and frightening treatment of David Mery whose story made it to the front page of The Guardian yesterday: "Column five: Suspicious behaviour on the tube"
Genuine mistakes can happen in the Police response to the terrorist attacks in July, but there is no excuse for all the the stress and the slur on the character of an innocent man. To be falsely accused of being a terrorist suspect is a very serious slander.
How can "holding on to your rucksack" be deemed to be "suspicous" behaviour, when all the the anti-crime and anti-terrorism progaganda campaigns tell not to be separated from their valuables ?
Once it was established that he was obviously not a suicide bomber, why did the Police seize his expensive electronic equipment, both from his person, and after raiding his home ?
Depriving David Mery of the items which the Police have taken, looks to be more of an extrajudicial punishment or harassment than any actual proper investigation of anything.
What were they snooping for ? If they had any real suspicion that the electronic equipment he was carrying e.g. his laptop computer, somehow contained "secret messages", then why did they allow him to keep dozens of Gigabytes of data storage in his MP3 player and mobile phone
(sans SIM card), yet they seized a simple electronic RS232 serial cable breakout box from his home ?
The police officers who displayed such
technological incompetence should be re-trained to bring them up to speed on 21st century technology.
What is the Metropolitan Police's "stop and search" policy when it comes to people carrying modern high tech tools and gadgets ? Surely their job is to protect these from being stolen, and not to deprive them from innocent people ?
The Metropolitan Police should issue a formal apology and pay financial compensation for this false arrest.
The Home Secretary should take steps to formally exercise the discretion allowed in the various bits of Police legislation not to store David's DNA samples, "DNA fingerprints" and his actual fingerprints forever. His name should also be expunged from any "intelligence databases" or "terrorist watch lists" which it may now have ended up on.
Why should any high tech company continue to invest in London, if its most valuable assets i.e. high tech people like David Mery and the others we have alluded to, are being victimised in this way ?
It looks like the Police have managed to alienate yet another minority, and that the terrorists have won another small victory - this is not acceptable, and the politicians who are responsible must act to remedy this situation.