Published: September 9, 2011
EXCLUSIVE by JOSH LOEB
A HOT dog vendor says he plans to sue police who arrested him during a swoop on illegal traders in the West End.
Turgut Kemal admitted illegally selling hot dogs outside the British Museum in Bloomsbury when he appeared in court yesterday (Thursday) but was acquitted of three counts of assaulting a police officer.
He now plans to sue for damages and file a complaint against Holborn police.
Mr Kemal, 60, claimed he was wrestled to the ground as police took him into custody on April 5.
JPs at Highbury Magistrates’ Court ruled officers had acted unlawfully in arresting him.
Mr Kemal’s solicitor Daniel Godden said: “Both the council and the police already have the right to seize goods and bring illegal traders to court without arresting them.”
Though the assault charges against Mr Kemal were thrown out, he pleaded guilty to selling hot dogs without a licence and was fined £400 plus costs.
Outside court, he said: “Police are arresting hot dog and ice cream vendors and keeping them for hours on end in the cells. This case has established that, under most circumstances, police do not have a right to arrest a person for this sort of minor offence if he has identification papers with him.
“I am going to let other street traders know this, and what they want to do is up to them. Other people in my situation could also make claims.”
Mr Kemal and his relatives have sold fast food next to the British Museum piazza for many years without permission from Camden Council, which controls licensing in the street.
The council claims itinerant trading of cooked meat is unhygienic. It regularly cracks down on the practice but Mr Kemal said he wants councils to license vendors in exchange for undertakings to obey hygiene rules.
In the past he has been supported by Bloomsbury Association chairman Jim Murray, who said space should be allocated because of Mr Kemal’s family’s long association with the area.
Mr Kemal said: “During the past 40 years things have escalated from a situation where council workers would seize equipment to one where police are carrying out SAS-style raids.”
Westminster Council, which earlier this year pledged to rid its streets of illegal street traders in the run-up to the Olympics in order to protect people from hazards and boost trade to licensed businesses, insists all food units, including those selling ice-cream, must be fixed to the ground.
A Camden spokeswoman said: “There are a number of designated sites at street markets across the borough from which licensed street traders are allowed to sell hot food. There are currently no vacant miscellaneous designated sites for the sale of hot food in Camden. Any new designated sites are subject to agreement by the council’s licensing committee. The London Local Authorities Act states that licensed itinerant ice cream traders are allowed to trade on unprohibited streets across the borough, providing they don’t trade in the same location for more than 15 minutes per day.”
A spokeswoman for police at Holborn declined to comment.