A father who booked a room with his teenage daughter at a hotel in the U.K. on a trip to visit his sick mother was accused of being a paedophile.
Karl Pollard, 46, and his daughter Stephanie, 14, traveled four hours from their home in South Wales to visit Pollard’s mother in Macclesfield, Cheshire. The pair checked into a double room at a budget accommodation, Travelodge, because it was the only room available.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was an emotional trip already – but it was made so much worse,” Pollard told Manchester Evening News.
“One minute I was brushing my teeth, the next I was being told I was a paedophile.”
The 46-year-old said he noticed staff at the front desk started giving him strange looks. He didn’t think much about it and hurried upstairs to freshen up before his visiting his cancer-stricken mother at the hospital—which was 20 minutes walk away.
“About 10 minutes later there was a knock at the door. A policewoman was standing there. I thought something had happened to my mum or my wife,” Pollard said, according to the newspaper.
“But she said ‘We’ve had a call from Travelodge, they believe you are a paedophile grooming underage girls,'” he recalled.
Both Pollard and Stephanie were then interviewed separately by the police officer.
“I explained to her that I was Stephanie’s dad. The officer had to ask her loads of questions to prove it,” he told the newspaper.
Pollard said the police then dropped the matter immediately but his daughter was left “distraught.”
“My daughter was in tears. She was so scared—and thought I was going to get taken away.”
“It was an already traumatic trip. I was treated disgustingly. The worst was my daughter, she was just so distraught,” he added.
Travelodge said it has apologized to the father and daughter and refunded the cost of the stay. The budget accommodation said in a statement that it takes the protection and young people seriously, reported the newspaper.
“We are sorry for any distress caused to Mr Pollard. We take our responsibilities towards protecting children and vulnerable young people extremely seriously.
“All our hotel teams are trained according to national guidelines supported by the NSPCC, which have also been approved by the National Working Group on child sexual exploitation, South Yorkshire Police and the MET Police.
“In the past, proactive action by our hotel teams has helped to safeguard young people at risk. In this instance we got it wrong and we have apologized to Mr. Pollard, as well as refunded his stay.”
Cheshire Police said Travelodge had done the right thing in reporting suspicious activity.
“Staff at the Travelodge did the right thing by reporting what they believed to be suspicious activity to officers although thankfully there was nothing untoward and it turned out to be a misunderstanding,” they said in a statement, reported Manchester Evening Star.