John Webb, 59, has issued a High Court writ in London against Charles Pollard, claiming damages for unlawful arrest and detention in October 1992. Mr Webb, who was the senior officer in Reading, Berkshire, until his retirement in 1986, is also seeking aggravated and exemplary damages.
He was arrested by detectives investigating an allegation that he had left a garage forecourt in Basingstoke Road, Reading, without paying for petrol.
Mr Webb, who was with a group of friends at the time, vehemently denied the allegation, but was taken to Reading police station, searched, and held in cells for eight hours. He was released without charge.
Mr Webb later said that he had been 'embarrassed and humiliated' by the incident.
Thames Valley Police have already filed a defence to the writ. No date has been set for the hearing.