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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 14, 2009

Spurs striker Defoe to sue over "wrongful arrest"

England star Jermain Defoe is suing the police after his "wrongful'' arrest on suspicion of driving while disqualified, his lawyer said.

The Tottenham striker was held for several hours at a police station in Harlow, Essex, at the end of last month.

Essex Police said they had already apologised for their mistake, which they blamed on a computer inputting error.

The 26-year-old striker, who scored twice for England against Holland on Wednesday, said he would donate any damages awarded to charity.

His solicitor, Nick Freeman, known as Mr Loophole owing to his success in getting cases against drivers dropped, said: "The claim arises out of Mr Defoe's wrongful arrest for driving whilst disqualified last month.

"At the time the police were advised by Mr Defoe, and on no less than five occasions by my office, that Mr Defoe was not disqualified and that his detention was unlawful.

"Notwithstanding this, he remained incarcerated in a police cell for approximately five hours until Chelmsford Magistrates' Court confirmed our assertion that he was not disqualified.

"The problem arose as the consequence of an inputting error by Essex Police, which they have admitted and apologised for. This was compounded by their failure to accept our protestations that he was not disqualified.

"The police should have bailed Mr Defoe when they were put on notice of their error to enable them to pursue their inquiries.

"Instead, in addition to being locked in a cell, the police were unable to recall where his car had been impounded and were not prepared to return his car keys (which also contained house keys) until he produced documentation to his vehicle.

"This claim is about principle and not about money. Any damages my client is awarded will be donated to charity.''

An Essex Police spokesman said: "We've formally apologised, acknowledging our mistake, which was due to an inputting error.

"An internal investigation is under way to determine why this error occurred and to ensure that a similar mistake is not repeated in the future.''

Asked about the force being sued for damages, he said: "Essex Police is conducting an internal investigation and liaising with Mr Defoe's legal team to ascertain the details of the claim.

"It would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time.''

Defoe, of Cuffley, Hertfordshire, was convicted of speeding earlier in July by a district judge sitting in Chelmsford, Essex.

He was disqualified from driving but the disqualification was suspended pending an appeal - Defoe denied any offence.

District Judge David Cooper passed sentence after magistrates heard Defoe broke a 50mph speed limit in a Land Rover on the M11 in Chigwell, Essex, in April and June 2008.

Defoe was disqualified for six months and ordered to pay £600 costs.

The judge also fined Defoe £1,500 for failing to inform the authorities who was driving - and added 12 penalty points to the footballer's licence.

Defoe's legal team said the player would appeal and argue that police paperwork was invalid because it had been handled by an unauthorised person.

At the beginning of the month Defoe was fined £500 and given penalty points at St Albans Magistrates' Court for a speeding offence.

He was caught by a speed camera driving a Ferrari at 45mph in a 30mph limit in Hertfordshire last year.

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