Robin was arrested after giving a speech at a country fair in Gloucestershire on 8 September 2002. To urge listeners to attend an approaching countryside march he started his speech by saying: “If you are a black, vegetarian, Muslim, asylum-seeking, one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you.”
Gloucestershire police received two complaints after the speech and Robin was consequentially arrested on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred.
Thanks to the Data Protection Act, Robin discovered that he had been the victim of political correctness: “It is a story, in my view, of absolutely disgraceful police behaviour. Although the wrongful arrest took place in 2002, it is only by using the Data Protection Act that the full facts have recently come to light and the Gloucestershire Police have admitted liability for compensation. In normal circumstances I would have fought for more money, but I have recently undergone serious medical treatment and can’t be bothered. I have proved a point; I have shown that the Gloucestershire Police have behaved in a way that most people will consider to be unacceptable, and I believe that I have scored a significant victory over the ludicrous and sinister politically correct ‘hate crime’ culture that is currently doing so much to prevent free speech in this country. I am now going to take the facts, and the Gloucestershire Constabulary, to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and I will also be asking my MP, Andrew Lansley, to take up certain aspects of this case with the Home Secretary”.
Robin was told that he had committed a hate crime, interviewed under-caution and given police bail. “As a result the BBC claimed I had been arrested for a race speech; the Daily Telegraph warned me about my behaviour – it was potentially extremely damaging to me as a writer and broadcaster.”
Robin received his compensation in an unfranked, unstamped envelope and it cost him £1.24 to retrieve it from his local post office. Robin commented: “If it was an accident – fine. If it was deliberate – how childish and unprofessional was that??”