Wartime prisoner sues after 50 years

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The Independent Online
German-born grandmother Gertrude Timmis is to seek compensation from the government after she was interned during the Second World War for what she believes was a "clerical error".

Mrs Timmis, 78, was locked in British jails for three years for being a German.

Now the pensioner, who has secured Legal Aid, plans to sue the government for compensation. Mrs Timmis, a mother of five who grew up in Scotland after her German mother married a Scottish soldier, claims she should never have been incarcerated because her step-family were British. She also believes that, because her step-brother served in the Royal Nay during the war, she was eligible for exemption from internment laws.

"I moved to Scotland after my mother married a Scotsman and I grew up there," said Mrs Timmis, of Droitwich, Worcestershire. "My mother died when I was young and my stepfather brought me up. But when I was 18 I had to revert to using my German surname, Timmis, because I had not been legally adopted. It was then that the authorities caught up with me.

"I feel very bitter about what happened to me and when I remember the conditions in prison and the abuse I got when I hadn't done anything wrong I feel sick to the bottom of my stomach.

"I was given the worst chores and made to work really hard. The criminals were given better treatment than me. We were stripped to the skin and given internal examinations. We were treated like animals.

"It is an indignity and although it's 50 years on it's something I have got to settle."

An expert in wartime law said yesterday he doubted whether Mrs Timmis would be successful in her claim for compensation against the British government.

Dr Jeremy McBride, a senior law lecturer at the University of Birmingham, said that because so much time had passed it would be difficult for Mrs Timmis to prove that she had been unlawfully detained in British jails.