Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 19:05 UK

Footballer 'unlawfully' arrested

Jermain Defoe
Jermain Defoe's disqualification was suspended pending an appeal

England footballer Jermain Defoe has been "unlawfully" arrested on suspicion of driving while disqualified, his lawyer has said.

Mr Defoe's solicitor said the Tottenham striker, 26, was held for more than five hours in Harlow, Essex, despite not being banned from driving.

Essex Police said the arrest had been based on "inaccurate" information held on a computer.

Police said the player was released as soon as the error came to light.

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

'Unlawful arrest'

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

Nick Freeman, Mr Defoe's solicitor, said the footballer had been stopped in the early hours and not released until after 0900 BST.

"My client was unlawfully arrested and detained in custody for more than five hours at Harlow police station," he said.

"This was despite the police being informed that Mr Defoe was not subject to any relevant period of disqualification as it had been suspended.

"These administrative errors are more than extremely unfortunate and should simply not occur."

Appeal planned

The Essex Police spokesman said: "The arrest of a man from Hertfordshire on suspicion of disqualified driving was based on information held on the Police National Computer.

"Following inquiries, officers discovered that the information was inaccurate and released the 26-year-old man without charge."

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

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

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

Mr Defoe's legal team has appealed the suspension on the grounds that police paperwork was invalid because it had been handled by an unauthorised person.

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