A FORMER policeman was unlawfully arrested for harassing a councillor, force bosses have admitted.
4 APRIL 2016 | BY Matthew Porter FOR ECHO NEWS
Ken Mason's home in Great Ranton, Pitsea, was raided by officers who suspected him of making nuisance phone calls to highways county councillor Rodney Bass.
Essex Police paid out £2,000 in compensation last year after admitting the raid, which saw his computer seized, should not have been carried out.
Until now, the force has insisted his arrest was legitimate.
Essex Police has now admitted Mr Mason’s arrest was also unlawful, with a lack of experience from the officers involved being blamed for the error.
Police and crime commissioner, Nick Alston, wrote to Mr Mason after stepping in to investigate the circumstances of the arrest.
He does not believe pressure from Essex County Council bosses was the reason for the police action.
Mr Alston said: “Councillor Bass was subject to prolonged and significant nuisance phone calls and correspondence to his family home and, for understandable reasons, he brought this to the attention of Essex Police.
“Following your complaint about your arrest and the search of your home, the Essex Police professional standards department investigated the matter, and found the search of your house was unlawful.
“It has now been made clear to me by the Essex Police legal team that the grounds used for arresting you ‘do not withstand scrutiny’.
“In short, the view of the force solicitor is that your arrest was unlawful.
“I share the Essex Police judgement that the mistakes made were the result of lack of officer knowledge and supervision.
“I do not believe these mistakes were the result of undue influence having been applied.
“It is essential Essex Police learns from their errors, and I have been informed management action has been taken against the key officers and supervisors involved.”
Mr Mason claims he was accused of harassing Mr Bass because he had emailed the councillor complaining about the authority’s part night lighting policy, which sees streetlights switched off between 1am and 5am.
He was later released without charge.
The former Met Police officer has suggested he may pursue a further compensation claim against Essex Police following the unlawful arrest admission.
Mr Mason, 67, said the way he was treated by police was a “gross over-reaction”.
He added: “All I was told was I was being arrested for harassing Mr Bass and no other details.
“The arrest was unnecessary. I would have been happy to answer any questions.
“I felt my home had been violated as if a burglar had rifled through my possessions and removed them.”
The officers involved in the incident were given additional training, but they did not face any formal misconduct action.
An Essex Police spokesman said: “Following a further review of this case it has now been assessed that the arrest was not lawful.
“We have apologised to the complainant and a civil claim against the force has been settled.”