Customs officer tells jury of 'verbal assault'

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The Independent Online
THE Customs officer accused of publicly humiliating Lady Foster said in the High Court yesterday it was he who was 'verbally assaulted'.

Timothy Entwistle, 24, denied he was hostile, rude or sarcastic to Lady Foster, a Pakistan-born linguist and wife of the architect Sir Norman Foster, when he stopped her and her daughter, now Mrs India Langmead, in November 1990 during a security check at Heathrow airport.

'I handled what was a very difficult situation to the best of my ability,' he told Mr Justice Drake and a jury.

He said he did not pick on the women because of their colour or sex. When he began to question Lady Foster, who at the time was married to News International's chairman Andrew Knight, she spoke to him in a 'rude and nasty' tone.

When he looked at their baggage, both women began to create a disturbance. He was told not to touch presents with his 'dirty hands'.

When the women repeatedly refused to go to a private room for the search to be continued, he had no choice but to arrest them for obstruction. 'I was being verbally assaulted by these two ladies, who were absolutely adamant they were not prepared to come with me.'

The women are suing for damages for false imprisonment and 'slander by conduct'. The Customs say the two women brought the arrest on themselves by being aggressive.

The case continues today.