Driver stopped 34 times sues police

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The Independent Online
A BLACK motorist is suing the police for harassment after he was stopped 34 times in two years in what is believed to be the first trial of its kind.

Carl Josephs, a butcher who has no convictions and a clean driving licence, was eventually forced to catch the bus to work and was treated by a psychiatrist after being persecuted by officers from the West Midlands police force, a civil court was told yesterday.

After making a complaint about being stopped so often, officers threatened to plant drugs in his car, Birmingham High Court was told.

Mr Josephs, 27, of Birmingham, is suing Edward Crew, the West Midlands Chief Constable, for false imprisonment, unlawful arrest and racial harassment.

While other people have threatened to sue the police for harassment in similar circumstances, this is the first case to go to trial. In cases involving other police forces, they have agreed to pay out-of-court damages.

Peter Herbert, who represents Mr Josephs, told the court that in 1992 his client was arrested driving a van and detained at a Birmingham police station. He was released after one-and- a-half hours and the force sent Mr Josephs a pounds 250 cheque without admitting liability.

Since receiving the cheque Mr Josephs had been picked on by police who repeatedly demanded he present his car documents to a police station, the jurors were told.

Mr Josephs owned a distinctive red Metro car displaying two Jamaican flags, with tinted windows and "One Love" written on the side of the vehicle.

After making two formal complaints to the police, Mr Josephs contacted the local media for help in October 1996. Mr Herbert said that instead of backing off, police officers in the north Birmingham area "took delight" in stopping his client.

In November 1996, Mr Josephs was arrested in his car on suspicion of possession of drugs.

"They began to threaten that if he did not stop what he was doing [complaining] that the next time he would have drugs in his car and they would not be his," said Mr Herbert.

The jury was told that Mr Josephs was eventually forced to sell his Metro and catch the bus to work.

Police officers against whom the complaints have been made claimed they had never seen or heard of Mr Josephs before, the court was told.

The case continues.