Defoe accuses police of harassment

Footballer Jermain Defoe accused police of harassment today after he was pulled over just days after announcing he would sue a force for wrongful arrest.

The England and Tottenham Hotspur star was at the wheel of his black Ferrari when he was pulled over by an Essex Police patrol after visiting his mother.

Defoe travelled to see her hours after taking part in Tottenham's 2-1 win over Liverpool in their first match of the season yesterday.

The stop check came three days after the sportsman announced he would sue the force over his "wrongful" arrest on suspicion of driving while disqualified.

But Essex Police said the footballer was stopped as part of an operation to tackle a spate of burglaries in which valuable cars have been taken.

Defoe's solicitor, Nick Freeman, who likes to be known as "Mr Loophole", said the actions of police "beggar belief".

He said: "At best, this is an embarrassing cock-up. At worst, it smacks of something far more sinister, which can only add weight to growing concerns that they are being vindictive and my client is being harassed."

Defoe was pulled over by a traffic police patrol in Chigwell shortly after 11pm last night. After checks were made on his identity he was allowed to continue.

On Friday, the 26-year-old striker said he would take legal action against the force after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while disqualified.

The Tottenham striker was pulled over while driving a Range Rover on July 27 and held for about five hours at a police station in Harlow, Essex.

Defoe was disqualified from driving after a speeding conviction earlier in July but the ban was suspended pending appeal.

The star, who lives in Cuffley, Hertfordshire, said he would give any damages he was awarded from the legal action to charity.

Mr Freeman added that Defoe wanted to be reassured that the officers' actions were not victimisation.

He said: "Mr Defoe was stopped for no reason after leaving his mother's home.

"Coming as it does, just three days after announcing he is to claim damages from the same force, it leaves the police with some serious questions to answer."

An Essex Police spokesman said: "Police in the Epping Forest area have been running Operation Phobia, which is aimed at tackling domestic burglary in affluent areas, and the theft of high value cars.

"As part of that operation officers stopped a black Ferrari in Manor Road, Chigwell, at 11.14pm on Sunday.

"They satisfied themselves that all was in order with the car and driver, and it continued on its way."

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