§ 36. Mr. Burden
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why Mr. Thompson, a motorist, who stopped to inform a police officer off duty late on Saturday, 16th April, that the rear light of his motor cycle was not working, was taken into Brixton police station; why his wife was not allowed to see him; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Renton)
Mr. Thompson was reported by two officers of the City of London Police returning from duty by motor 1254 cycle to the officer on duty at Brixton police station for an alleged offence against the Road Traffic Acts. According to the officers concerned, no reference was made to the rear light on their motor cycle. After investigation the Brixton officer decided not to charge Mr. Thompson. An apology was tendered to him, and he was allowed to go. His wife was not allowed to see him because her behaviour on entering the police station led to her being arrested and charged with another offence. The charge was later dismissed.
§ Mr. Burden
Can my hon. and learned Friend say how it is that there appeared in very responsible newspapers the statement that Mr. Thompson had reported to a police officer that his rear light was not operating and that, as a result of that action, he was taken into Brixton police station? Is he aware that in fact no charges whatever were pursued against Mr. Thompson; that according to Press reports his wife appeared in court the following day charged with being drunk and disorderly, and that the magistrate elicited the fact that she had had three drinks during the previous evening and said that there was some doubt in the case and that her actions were responsible for the charge? Would not my hon. and learned Friend agree that it is highly probable that his wife, or the wife of anybody else, seeing her husband taken to the police station and making application to see him and not being allowed to do so, would become a little emotional, to say the least?
§ Mr. Renton
I should point out that these were City of London policemen and that my right hon. Friend is not the police authority for the City of London. Perhaps I may say that the magistrate, dismissing the charge against Mrs. Thompson, said that obviously her behaviour was such that it would have led to her being arrested. Mr. Thompson, it appears, had taken drink, but when a police surgeon was called, he did not find that Mr. Thompson was unfit to be in charge of a car. The City officer found that his rear light was not working, but neither he nor the other officer recollect Mr. Thompson having drawn their attention to it at any stage.
§ Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas
If the behaviour of the police officers was completely correct, for what exactly did they apologise?
§ Mr. Renton
I do not think that police officers should be blamed for apologising, if an apology might be appropriate. At any rate, the circumstances were that this gentleman seems to have taken drink but not sufficient to enable the police surgeon to decide that he was unfit to drive a car.