Mohammed Bashir was driven 175 miles from his home town of Elland after he was stopped by an unmarked police car while working at local business, Munch Grill and Pizza Bar. But, it was only when they arrived in Scotland that police investigating a fraud case realised they had the wrong man.
The 35 year old. married father-of-two’s ordeal began when he was stopped by a West Yorkshire Police RPU officer just after midnight on December 15th 2014, while delivering a takeaway in Greetland and questioned about his insurance. He was asked to sit in the back of the police car and gave them his details. The police then asked if he had any links to Glasgow and Mr Bashir told them he had relatives there. His name was then checked on the PNC database sparking a shocking series of events.
Mr Bashir said: “The police officer asked me if I knew that I was wanted in Glasgow and said there was a warrant out for my arrest,” .
“I was shocked, I asked him to check again and said I knew he had the wrong person and it was a mistake.”
Mr Bashir was then handcuffed, arrested and taken to Halifax Police Station and he was held overnight. His plight got worse in the morning when he told custody officers he had coeliac disease.
“I told them, I can’t eat anything with wheat or barley. They were only giving out sandwiches so I just had water and crisps. It was also freezing in the cells and they gave me a couple of blankets but I was still cold. My head was all over the place.
“I was also worried about my family, and my son was due to be in his first Nativity play and I missed it.
“I wasn’t interviewed but kept telling them again and again that they had the wrong person, but the police would not listen,” Mr Bashir continued.
Mr Bashir, who is known to his friends and family as ‘Nav’, said his fingerprints were taken again and found to be a match. “They then told me I was going to be transferred to Glasgow – what could I think? My mind was all over the place.I had no choice but to go.” By this time he had been at the police station in Halifax for 26 hours.
After being transferred to Glasgow by security firm G4S in the back of a prison van where he felt very claustrophobic. Upon arrival, Mr Bashir was imprisoned in a cell once again.
The mix-up finally came to light when Mr Bashir was taken before the court and the wanted man’s solicitor confirmed he wasn’t his client.
“The guard came back and said ‘away you go’. There was no apology, decency or anything to say that a mistake had been made.
“I was left on the streets of Glasgow to make my own way back. I had £6 in my pocket and my mobile was dead when they gave it back to me. Luckily, I have relatives in Glasgow and I was able to contact them and they drove me back home”.
“It felt like a police comedy. It was an absolute joke. It’s left me shattered and I still have flashbacks.”
Mr Bashir is now taking legal action against West Yorkshire Police for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.
His solicitor Simon McKay, of Bradford-based Petherbridge Bassra, said: “If it is established that West Yorkshire Police detained Mr Bashir in the way they did – and I am confident the evidence supports his account – then a large and well resourced police force has fundamentally failed in the basic discharge of its functions.”
When the story first broke in the local press the reaction of West Yorkshire Police was typical: A spokesperson said they could not comment on the case for legal reasons. That all changed, however, after Craig Whittaker MP raised the issue with the Prime Minister during Parliamentary Question Time.
Following the Commons question, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom denied that West Yorkshire Police were to blame and pointed the finger at Police Scotland.
He said: “Mr Bashir was in a vehicle stopped by a West Yorkshire Police Traffic patrol. Upon checks being made, the Police National Computer (PNC) showed that Mr Bashir was subject of an outstanding warrant for failing to appear at court in Scotland. A roadside fingerprint check verified Mr Bashir as the person circulated as wanted on warrant by Police Scotland.
“In accordance with normal procedures, he was detained at Halifax Police Station for Police Scotland to collect and transport him, which they did some 26 hours after his arrest.
“He was then transported to Scotland where he was further detained until the next available court. It was only upon his appearance at court, that it was established he was not the suspect wanted for failing to appear and that Mr Bashir had been circulated in error, as wanted on the PNC.
“Mr Bashir was an entirely innocent party and has been wrongfully arrested and detained in custody. However West Yorkshire Police were not responsible for the error that led to his arrest, with our subsequent actions being conducted unaware of the error and in good faith.
“We have responded to Mr Bashir’s solicitors outlining the circumstances and suggesting they may wish to raise the matter further with Police Scotland.”
Mark Milsom’s main claim to policing fame is avoiding prosecution when driving through a red light in Leeds City Centre and burying his 4×4 car in to the side of a bus. Read more here. Presumably, according to the Milsom theory of physics that was the bus driver’s fault. Read more here.