TV star says he life was ‘ruined’ after police wrongfully arrested and beat him
A former TV entertainer claims his life was left in “ruins” after he was wrongfully arrested, punched and hit by police officers.
Channel 4’s Renovation Game star Huntley Thawe’s reputation was damaged after he was accused of assaulting officers outside McDonald’s.
West Mercia Police officers were filmed grabbing Mr Thawe around the neck and hitting him several times with a baton in the incident in the restaurant’s car park in 2017.
They also recorded punching Mr Thawe and sprayed him with PAVA, which is similar to pepper spray.
Huntley was charged with threatening or abusive words or behaviour, obstructing a constable in execution of their duty and two counts of assault against a police officer but was later cleared of all charges.
But the builder and DJ, from Birmingham, says the damage had already been done and that the encounter jeopardised his job prospects.
Five years later, in August 2022, Huntley was awarded £21,750 in damages for loss of earnings, physical and psychological injuries after taking West Mercia Police to court. However, the police force did not apologise.
This comes at a time of crisis for West Mercia Police after PC Benjamin Monk was sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty of the manslaughter of Premier League Player Dalian Atkinson, who died after multiple Tasers, baton strikes and kicks to the head.
Recalling the traumatising experience that saw his life turned upside down, Huntley said he was sitting in his three-seater can when he was pepper-sprayed, with the substance going ‘all over the dashboard’.
He said: “The copper opened my door and he was sitting on my lap and started punching me in my face.
“I was squinting my eyes and the officer was sitting on my lap and trying to get me out of the car. I was in shock.”
The 53-year-old says the punches kept coming as he was pulled out of the car.
He recalls being grabbed by officers and pepper-sprayed another two times.
Huntley was then put in a police van and taken into custody where he was assessed by a doctor for multiple injuries including swollen eyes and bruising.
The TV star says he thought he would be entitled to an interview with the officer while in custody – but was left shocked when this didn’t happen.
Instead, he was charged with assaulting the officers who had punched and pepper-sprayed him.
Mr Thawe questions whether the incident could have happened to a white man.
He said: “I don’t think it would have happened.
“It’s a miracle someone recorded it. You could hear them saying the police were wrong which they were.
“I said to the person who filmed it, ‘you and me are friends for life’, and he’s going , ‘no, no, no, I saw what they did to you mate.
“They started battering you for no reason, so we started recording.”
The ordeal left Huntley out of work as production companies saw the incident as “bad publicity” which had a knock-on effect on his television show cast mates.
But the father-of-two says that his colleagues supported him despite the negativity he received while trying to clear his name.
He went on to add that they still keep in touch now.
Huntley said: “It affected them at the same time. When the television show was on, it had a knock-on effect. My cast mates were on the same show as me so it had a negative effect on them as well.
“It was bad publicity for them..”
A spokesperson for West Mercia Police said: “The decision to deploy PAVA spray led to a misconduct review where the two officers were given guidance on its appropriate usage, including in confined spaces.
“With regard to your second question, a decision was made that there was sufficient evidence to charge and release on bail, therefore no interview was conducted.”