Apology over 'terror detention' for parents

The parents of a disabled child have received an apology from police after being detained under the Terrorism Act as they made a day trip to France, it emerged today.



Julie Maynard, her husband Leslie Coombs and his stepson Joshua, 12, were stopped as they were about to travel to Calais through the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone, Kent, to buy special boots for the child.



The family, from Ware, Hertfordshire, said they were stopped by a plain- clothes officer who failed to identify herself as a police officer and asked the couple to produce their passports.



Ms Maynard, 48, and a legal advocate, said the police officer then asked her and her husband, 'Who's the boy?' in reference to Joshua, who is of mixed race and suffers from autism and cerebral palsy.



Mr Coombs, 56, told BBC Radio Kent: "Julie then said, 'Why did you ask the question of who the boy is. Would you do that with a white child?'

"And the officer said that there is a lot of child trafficking and we could be held under child trafficking.



"We said, 'Hang on here, we are not child trafficking. He is who it says he is on the passport'. She then refused to give us our passports back and asked us to go over to the security lane."



Ms Maynard said: "We were told we were being detained under terrorism legislation. She also asked me if I was accusing her of being a racist. We were surrounded by a large amount of police officers and told to get out of the car.



"Josh was clearly frightened and I took the blue badge and said, 'Look, he has got cerebral palsy and he has got autism, you are frightening him. Would you frighten any child?' and they said to get back in the car."



The couple said they were then separated for around two hours as Ms Maynard underwent questioning, while Mr Coombs stayed with Joshua before being released.



Ms Maynard said: "We never knew the extraordinary powers (the police) have under the Terrorism Act.

"I think it should be used in a way that is controlled and measured and it shouldn't be an assumption that everyone who is travelling is involved in terrorism."



Mr Coombs, a chauffeur, criticised the officer's handling of the matter and made a formal complaint to Kent Police.



He said: "If for one minute they thought we were terrorists, we wouldn't have minded at all. We would have done what they wanted but I really think they didn't think we were terrorists at all. They just wanted to give us a hard time."



Following the lodging of their complaint, Mr Coombs said he received a letter of apology from the force which said the officer had been "insensitive, lacking in tact and overall professionalism".



Mr Coombs said they had also been told the officer no longer worked at the Channel crossing following the incident on February 20.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Client Relationship Assistant / Business Support

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you willing to give fantastic Custom...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum