Ordeal of OAP who quipped 'I'm not Muslim' at airport security after he was stopped: Man spends six months facing racism charges before case is finally dropped
by Daily Mail Reporter
· Paul Griffith was stopped at Stansted airport on his way to Malaga
· The 75-year-old was asked to take his shoes off before he made the remark
· Airport staff called police and on his return from Spain he was arrested
· But 24 hours before appearing in court the CPS dropped all charges
A pensioner who said 'I'm not Muslim' when he was asked to remove his shoes at airport security has spent more than six months facing charges for racism.
Paul Griffith, 75, pictured, set off the security scanner's alarm at Stansted airport when travelling to Malaga for a week's holiday.
He removed his shoes as requested, but said: 'I am not Muslim am I?'
Paul Griffith was on his way to Malaga when airport staff asked him to remove his shoes. His response landed him arrested upon his return to the UK
A security guard accused him of racism and called the police, saying he was upset by the remark.
'One minute I am queuing up to get on a plane and the next I am confronted by two armed policemen.
'They said I had used racist language and took me to an office in the terminal,' Mr Griffith said yesterday.
Mr Griffith was allowed to go on his trip but was arrested when he returned. He was charged with causing 'racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress'.
'When I got back I had to wait six hours before they interviewed me again, arrested me and said that was being charged with causing racially aggravated harassment.
'I was photographed, had my finger prints taken and they also took a DNA swab from my mouth. 'Then they said I would have to go to my local police station.
When I went to Colchester police station I was told I had been charged with an offence under the Crime and Disorder Act but that I could accept a caution instead.
'I refused to do that - I had done nothing wrong and I wasn't going to admit to a criminal charge if I wasn't guilty of any crime.'
The CPS failed to substantiate claims by airport staff at Stansted (pictured) that Mr Griffith's comment was threatening or abusive
The 75-year-old was asked by staff at the airport to remove his shoes before he made the comment (file image)
Months later he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court where he pleaded not guilty to the offence.
The case was adjourned to last Thursday, but with just 24 hours before appearing, the Crown Prosecution Service suddenly dropped the charge due to lack of evidence.
The retired hairdressing salon owner, from Colchester, Essex, yesterday criticised the police for their heavy-handedness.
'I have never fallen foul of the law before and the whole affair has been a complete waste of police time, the court's time, my time as well as taxpayers' money.
'It has been incredibly stressful – all because I asked a question and apparently dared to use the M word.'
Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East of England, Frank Ferguson said: 'Following receipt of the evidential file a full review of the evidence took place.
'In order to successfully prosecute a charge of racially or religiously aggravated disorderly conduct, we first have to show that the language used was threatening or abusive and in these particular circumstances we could not show that to the high criminal standard required.'
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