Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 19:00 UK

Police 'terror' swoop on BBC man

OB kit being worn by a model
The transmitter equipment is regularly worn by BBC radio reporters

A BBC radio reporter was held to the ground and searched by police under the Terrorism Act after his transmitter equipment was mistaken for a bomb.

Five officers forced BBC Radio Stoke's Max Khan to his knees and held him face down in Stoke-on-Trent on Monday.

He was wearing a backpack with protruding wires and aerials. Staffordshire Police have apologised.

Earlier this year armed police tackled a man in the city after fearing his MP3 player was a gun.

Mr Khan said he was targeted after police were told an "Arabic-looking man was acting suspiciously" outside the Potteries Shopping Centre in Hanley.

He was on his way back from a story about the recently-moved Post Office and carrying a backpack containing equipment that is regularly used to allow reporters to broadcast from locations around the city centre.

He said the officers came at him from several directions at about 1100 BST and shouted for him to "get down on the floor".

You get the apologies at the scene from officers, but you still feel that maybe there could have been better intelligence or something
Max Khan, BBC Radio Stoke reporter

He said his initial reaction was "embarrassment and the humiliation of being treated that way, when you've done nothing wrong".

He added: "I think it then moved on to fear of what could have happened and a bit of anger as well.

"You get the apologies at the scene from officers, but you still feel that maybe there could have been better intelligence or something.

"It seems somewhat basic to be treated in that way just because of the colour of your skin."

The officers handed him a stop-search notice.

'Necessary action'

Ch Supt Jane Sawyers said a report had been received of a "suspicious" man with "a large backpack" with "wires or aerials" protruding from it.

She said: "Our first duty in cases like this is the safety of the public, the person and our officers, and presented with this limited information local officers immediately responded and positively acted to ensure everyone's safety.

"I want to apologise to the man involved in the incident for any distress caused but the action taken was necessary.

"I am pleased with the positive and professional way the officers dealt with the incident."

A BBC spokesperson said: "Police have apologised for this incident and as far as the BBC is concerned the matter is now closed."

In January mechanic Darren Nixon was on a bus when he was tailed by three police cars after a member of the public mistook his MP3 player for a gun.

He was then confronted by armed officers in the street yards from his home in Stoke-on-Trent.

He was arrested but no weapon was found.

video and audio news
BBC reporter Max Khan talks about his experience

Gunpoint arrest over MP3 player
13 Feb 08 |  Staffordshire


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