A Scotland Yard Detective has apologised from the pulpit of a Seventh-Day Adventist Church, after the wrongful arrest and conviction of a London woman.
The top cop was sent to address the congregation after an appeal overturned the conviction of Alison Richardson, 43, of Croydon, South London.
Church goer Mrs Richardson had been falsely accused of assaulting a police officer, after a disagreement with bailiffs who called at her home in February 2008.
But when an investigation led to her conviction overturned after an appeal, she was granted an out-of-court settlement with the force, worth “tens of thousands of pounds”, which included an apology from the pulpit of her church to Mrs Richardson and her husband Clive.
Det Sgt Nick Westwood attended Greenwich Seventh-day Adventist church to deliver the apology.
He told the congregation: “It is not surprising that on a day-to-day basis there are so many people we come into contact with that we get things wrong occasionally.
“It is only right and proper that when we make mistakes and where we make errors that we are willing to apologise and put those mistakes right.
“We decided that an apology had to be part of any agreement to settle this matter. During this it was apparent that because Alison and Clive are so deeply part of this church and the congregation, we decided to come to the church and make a formal apology on behalf of the Metropolitan Police for any harm, upset and distress this has caused.”
The trouble started when bailiffs turned up at the Richardson’s South London home to clamp a car belonging to her husband, after a disputed traffic fine relating to the church minibus.
Unable to stop the clampers, Mrs Richardson called the police, but things went from bad to worse, when an officer claimed to have been punched in the face. This led officers to arrest Mrs Richardson on suspicion of police assault. She was later convicted and ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service.
As a result of her conviction, Mrs Richardson lost her criminal records bureau accreditation which meant she could no longer work in the church office.
But after a successful appeal, Mrs Richardson went on to sue the police, winning an undisclosed financial settlement, and a pulpit apology.
Mrs Richardson said: “I felt that the apology was humble and genuine. The apology was necessary because of the humiliation, disgrace and embarrassment that I experienced when I was arrested, charged, tried and convicted of assaulting a police officer, a false allegation of a crime that I had clearly not committed.
“The public apology helps to heal the wounds and also to close this traumatic chapter, so that I can move forward with my family and get on with my life.”
January 11th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross