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King’s Lynn ferryman wants police apology

King's Lynn Ferry operator Steve Kingston was arrested and pepper sprayed by police during the floods for refusing to leave his boat. ENGANL00120131220145357

King's Lynn Ferry operator Steve Kingston was arrested and pepper sprayed by police during the floods for refusing to leave his boat. ENGANL00120131220145357

Lynn foot ferry captain Steve Kingston, who was dragged off his boat when he refused to abandon ship during December’s surge is demanding an apology from police.

Officers pepper-sprayed, handcuffed and threw Mr Kingston, 62, in a cell for refusing to leave the boat during the storm – the worst in Britain for 60 years.

Officers claimed the life-long sailor was putting his life at risk as a tidal surge threatened the Great Ouse in Lynn.

Mr Kingston, a grandfather who has operated the crossing for 13 years, was charged with obstructing or resisting police arrest and appeared in front of magistrates in April.

But he walked free from court when prosecutors dropped the case after telling magistrates there was no realistic chance of obtaining a conviction.

Mr Kingston said the “traumatic experience” had left him bewildered and he has now made an official complaint seeking an apology from Norfolk Police.

His wife Gail, 53, said: “We’ve got a complaint in but it is not about money or anything like that. My husband just wants an apology. We’ve started the process and it’s going to take a long time.”

Mr Kingston accused the police of failing to understand his work on the river. He said: “The whole thing was instigated by people who don’t understand the river or marine situations.

“You can’t separate a boat from its owner. A boat without a person on it is a liability.

“This has been a traumatic experience for myself and my family. I would like to say that I have respect for our police and the very difficult job they do.”

Police had claimed they faced ‘very challenging circumstances’ and acted in the interests of protecting life and property.

But District Judge Peter Veits said: “They should have said ‘if you want to stay, fine, but we are not responsible for your safety’ and walked away.”

The CPS said they had dropped the case after reviewing CCTV footage.

Norfolk police will decide whether to refer Mr. Kingston’s complaint to the Independent Police Complaint’s Commission. A force spokesman said: “We have received a complaint from Mr Kingston and an investigation is ongoing by officers within our Professional Standards Department.”

 
 
 

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