An IT consultant is suing police for being wrongfully arrested in Waitrose and insists she was strip-searched by police for refusing to wear a facemask while shopping despite being exempt.
Juliet Johnson says she was questioned by store security and a manager at the store in Chichester, West Sussex, about not wearing a mask, which was mandatory at the time, and although she said she’d proved she didn’t need to wear a mask as she suffers from an autoimmune disease that affects her breathing, police were summoned to the store.
Juliet Johnson says that while browsing for groceries she was then confronted by two officers and subsequently arrested, taken to a nearby police station, questioned and strip-searched.
After being detained for two hours, the 55-year-old was discharged the same day with no charges.
The consultant maintains that during the whole episode she was neither abusive nor offensive to anyone in the store but has since been banned from Waitrose and John Lewis, a prohibition which even includes buying online.
She’s now suing the police for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, assault and disability discrimination.
Sussex Police said a civil claim has been made which the force strongly disputed, with a spokesperson adding liability has been denied.
On February 25 this year, Juliet Johnson said she was peacefully and quietly pushing her trolley picking items from the store in Chichester, West Sussex.
She’d proved her exemption to the security guard of the store on a previous visit by showing three forms of evidence including her NHS exemption card, but she said she was then confronted by the supermarket’s manager who’d been informed by the guard and was asked why she wasn’t wearing a face mask.
At the time, wearing a face-covering in shops and supermarkets was a legal requirement, mandated by the government, unless exempt for health reasons.
After explaining she didn’t need to wear a mask, Juliet Johnson said the manager left her to carry on shopping but as she was picking up a tin of baked beans she was confronted by police officers.
Juliet Johnson said that she’d already explained she didn’t need to wear a facemask, and she said that like countless others, she suffers from a chronic health condition, invisible on the outside but at times debilitating.
The manager called the police without her knowledge. And that she told the police officer of her human rights and that she’d already proved she was exempt.
People with breathing difficulties should never have to mask their face at all because it reduces their breathing, and not only that there are major hygiene concerns with mask-wearing, and this woman was exempt from wearing one and had shown evidence that she was.
However, a lot of shops and stores got extremely enthusiastic with those who were exempt from wearing a face mask, and videos of such events were all-around social media at the time.
And it looks like these stazi police went overboard with these COVID restrictions. She had an exemption, she wasn’t charged with anything, and Waitrose will definitely be off my shopping list now.
But it looks like immigrants on dinghies come over, help themselves to a hotel, block the M25, and our government are bending over backwards to accommodate them, but if you’re not wearing a mask, the police will bundle you into the back of a vehicle and take off your trousers.
And why was this woman strip-searched? Being strip-searched had no connection to a virus that would cause someone to be strip-searched. It’s not like she was hiding stolen goods in her mask, she wasn’t wearing one, and these police officers involved need a major disciplinary and some training on knowing the difference between bullying and professionalism.