Yesterday, Thursday 6th February, I was awoken by a loud bang on my door. Dazed, I opened the door to two plain clothes officers from Police Scotland, who then proceeded to push their way into my home. They were there to execute a search warrant to seize all my “electronic devices”. The reason: People have made anonymous and malicious reports to Crimestoppers about me, and they can’t find who so are now investigating me. However, their search was far from normal & now my solicitor has lodged a complaint.
Before I start, it is important to note that whilst they executed a search warrant on my home address, they haven’t charged, questioned or even said I’m under investigation.
At 9:45 two Police Scotland detectives from Inverness’ warrant unit advised they had a search warrant granted by Inverness Sheriff Court authorising them to search my property, and seize any electronic devices.
It went on to state it was in relation the anonymous calls to Crimestoppers that have wasted police resources. I asked was I under arrest, and they advised I was not.
The justification for the warrant was: they could find nobody else that contacted crimestoppers. We’ll come back to that later. Clue; they didn’t look.
All of a sudden six more officers let themselves in bringing boxes with them. It was at this point that I asked to speak to my solicitor David Patterson, from Patterson & Paterson Solicitors. Due to the previous visits as a result of the malicious reports against me, Mr Patterson had stated to call him immediately and put him on the phone to the Police.
If you are not aware, over the past 18 or so months, police have repeatedly visited my address after getting “anonymous intelligence” saying that I was going to hurt people or that I had guns or bombs. They assured me they’d look into the names of the people my family and myself provided them. It had caused my mental health suffer dramatically.
The lead detective politely refused that request saying, “you can do that when we’re gone.” I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and was getting upset so I asked for an “appropriate adult“, someone who will look out for my rights and explain to me what’s going on. I did this as I can get confused under stress and forget what’s happened. I was again refused this.
It is important to note that whilst he refused my requests, he was polite and courteous. The officers proceeded to start tearing up my home, literally.
Very quickly they had seized:
- My kids Xbox One
- My Mobile Phone
- My Laptop
- My PC
- My DSLR Camera
- An broken old Phone
- A memory stick that was still in it’s packaging.
However, as well as looking for “Electronic devices” which was the remit of the warrant, they were reading all my personal papers and clearly going past looking for “electronic devices.”
As a Muslim, I have several books on my faith, one Officer was going through these books in depth stopping to read through them quickly. You can take from that what you wish, but it wasn’t part of the remit. Neither was looking at my legal correspondence or work notes.
In February 2017, I went on a Pilgrimage to Mecca & Madinah in Saudi Arabia called Umra. This is something millions of Muslims do every year. It is a pilgrimage which Muslims are encouraged to do if they can. I was gifted the trip by a kind friend from my local Mosque in Inverness.
When there, I naturally took photographs of myself there. After coming home my wife arranged them in a photo album for me. During the search I could see them examining the album and talking to each other about it. I spoke up and advised them what it was, they seemed less than impressed. They kept going back to the album throughout their search. In the end the top cop shook his head when another asked about taking it.
I was asked numerous questions about my faith and if I attended mosque etc. This made me very uncomfortable.
Remember, they where there to seize electronic devices that could contact Crimestoppers. However, they seemed more interested in going through every personal paper and work notes I had. I told them that I am a Journalist and therefore they need to use special procedures to examine anything so as not to see any Journalistic material. This is the law. It took me having to produce my NUJ membership card and Press Card for them to grudgingly accept. This will become important later.
Whilst I sat there waiting, my house phone rang several times. I wasn’t allowed to answer it. Eventually they answered it and it was my wife. She asked to speak to me but they refused. They told her I was ok, but they can’t say what’s going on. I was getting upset by this.
Over the next hour my phone rang 7 more times, all which they ignored and prohibited me from answering. This despite me “not being under arrest.”
The officers sent to search had no idea why they were even there. They just got given the warrant a d told to go search. This is far from helpful when you want to know what’s going on. They couldn’t even tell me if I’d even be questioned. I kept asking to speak my solicitor, but was repeatedly denied that right.
After going through my life and leaving my house looking rough, they started to pack up. It was at this point my father arrived. My father was worried as he’d been calling and my wife had advised the Police were there. He is generally not a well person and relies on oxygen 24/7. Puffing and panting they initially refused to let him in, making him stand outside in 1°C temperatures gasping.
After six of the eight officers left, he was allowed in. After sitting down the lead cop stated what had gone on. My dad, unimpressed asked why they hadn’t investigated any of the people who’s names we gave when trying to find out who was making malicious reports against me. (We know the people, so know for a fact not one of them have had any devices taken or even been spoken to.) As the Detective had no idea about the case, he apologized and said I just have to wait and see. They then left. I was not allowed a copy of the warrant or a receipt of what was taken.
After leaving, I contacted my solicitor who is now taking legal steps I cannot disclose at this time. He had howeverit’s completely unacceptable how they acted.”
Late yesterday afternoon, a senior member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) called me after another Journalist had tried to ask about my membership, something they won’t ever disclose anyway. They asked to be kept in the loop and appraised of any developments as the seizure of Journalistic material without the right protections is unacceptable.
I have access to a device to keep in contact with my family and do this. However, the Xbox is my only way of getting TV for my kids, I live in a signal blackspot, so now my boys are suffering.
I cannot work properly as they have taken my work devices with all my research and other relevant content. It could take months for me to get them back, so I’m left in an awkward situation.
My solicitor is submitting a complaint against Police Scotland regarding them breaching my human rights. I have a serious mental health condition and asked for help they refused. They refused me access to legal advice regarding the validity of the warrant. A DSLR camera cannot be used to contact crimestoppers so they overreached the scope of the warrant, and they looked at privileged legal letters and work material.
Knowing that I’m a registered Journalist, they do know, this must be disclosed to the Sheriff when asking for a warrant. It was clear this is not the case. Therefore, legal action is likely. It is important that they are limited in their scope of search. My sources have an expectation of privacy. Even showing contact with me could be detrimental to them.
Needless to say, I am not giving to give up. It is ridiculous to think I’d report myself to the Police. I don’t want sleepless nights, panic attacks and my neighbours giving me funny looks. I want a quiet life and as little stress as possible. I don’t want my record being tarnished or surveillance officers following me about, that’s a different issue.
I will strenuously fight any legal action thatay or may not occur. It is unacceptable that my rights were trampled on. I’m one timid guy in a wheelchair and they came into my home, my safe space, and turned it over. I’m now scared of it happening again.
I feel that I am being targeted because of my faith. Two Officers involved have previously been very harsh on questioning me about my faith and have said several inappropriate things to other people. They make a point on telling anyone they talk to in relation to me, that I’m a Muslim. There is no need to do this. My faith is a personal matter.
I want to thank everyone who’s reached out to support me, it really does mean a lot. I will keep you updated on any developments.
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