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Monday, January 18, 1999 Published at 19:28 GMT


Black driver alleges police harassment

Carl Josephs: Stopped "for no reason whatsoever"

A black motorist who was stopped by police 34 times in two years has accused officers of racial harassment in a case believed to be the first of its kind in British legal history.

The BBC's Liz Munro: "He felt the police had it in for him"
Giving evidence to a court on Monday, Carl Josephs, who has no previous convictions and a clean driving licence, said he had lost all faith in the police because of what had happened to him.

He said that he had been stopped so often in his Metro car "for absolutely no reason whatsoever", that he eventually started to catch the bus to work.

[ image: He was asked to produce documents on many occasions]
He was asked to produce documents on many occasions
On a number of occasions Mr Josephs was told he had an attitude problem for questioning why he had been stopped and once police officers made "funny faces" at him as they drove alongside his car.

He said he eventually sought treatment from a psychiatrist because of continued police persecution.

The jury was told that by 1993, Mr Josephs was the owner of a red Metro car displaying two Jamaican flags and tinted windows, and "One Love" emblazoned down one side.

Mr Herbert said that despite its distinctive nature, the car was not high-powered, was road-worthy and Mr Josephs had no previous convictions of any sort.

Mr Josephs is suing the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police Force for false imprisonment, unlawful arrest and racial harassment.

Detained 'by mistake'

According to Mr Josephs' counsel, Peter Herbert, the incidents began in 1992, after Mr Josephs was arrested and detained at a police station in Birmingham on suspicion of being a banned motorist.

Mr Herbert told the court that Mr Josephs was held in a police cell for one-and-a-half hours, before officers said a mistake had been made and they had arrested the wrong Carl Josephs.

Mr Josephs complained about his treatment and West Midlands Police Force sent him a cheque for 250 without admitting liability.

"From around that time his problems started to go off the scale," Mr Herbert said.

Mr Josephs alleged he was repeatedly asked to produce documents at a police station.

On one occasion, after complaining to the police, officers from the force threatened to plant drugs in Mr Josephs' car, the court was told.

On another occasion, an officer who stopped the 27-year-old in his distinctive red Metro car, allegedly told him "you lot are all the bloody same".

Opening the case, Mr Herbert told the jury that his client had been stopped so often because he had made a complaint about police officers and because he was black.

"It comes down to people with power and people without," the lawyer said.

His case was adjourned until Tuesday.

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