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What a tool

It’s a Boy’s Own gift that will be stuffed into thousands of Christmas stockings, but a retired brigadier has discovered that the credit card-sized toolkit — complete with 5cm (2in) blade, compass, tweezers and toothpick — could put the recipients on the wrong side of the law.

Tom Foulkes, 56, who spent 35 years working for the Ministry of Defence developing real weapons, was arrested, locked up and had his fingerprints and DNA sample taken after the kit was discovered in his overnight bag by police.

The former Royal Engineer was preparing to board a Paris-bound train at Waterloo when an X-ray machine alarm was triggered by the toolkit. He was hauled from the station, placed in a cage in a van and taken to a police station for questioning. Four hours later he was released and cautioned after admitting to possessing an offensive weapon; Mr Foulkes had seen it as something with which to sharpen pencils and cut off luggage labels, and that his wife occasionally used to pluck her eyebrows.

Mr Foulkes aired his grievance in a letter to The Times. Yesterday he revealed more about his ordeal. “The whole thing was an absolute farce,” he said. “I’m now on the police database. They have photographs of me and records of my DNA and my fingerprints, all because I was carrying this useful little tool.” (The Times)

Sorry Sir - but you are also at fault, not for carrying the blade but for accepting the caution. If you had stood up to the bullies and demanded your day in court then not only would you probably have got away with it but also you would have done your bit to curb their behaviour. Not as easy as accepting a caution, and I'm not saying I would do it either, but that would be the right thing to have done.


I have one of those little credit card tools.
I'd completely forgotten that it was stashed away in my wallet until a phalanx of German security guards spotted it on the xray machine at Dusseldorf airport.
They were happy enough to give me it back after a quick shufty at it.

That was the only bother it gave me, despite it enjoying a return trip through the xray machines of Glasgow, Schiphol and Dusseldorf airports.

Trouble is the Swisscard having a fixed blade fits the definition of an offensive weapon under the act.
This means that it's up to the Brigadier (rtd) to prove that he has a 'good reason', in the legal sense, to carry a fixed blade.

I've got one of those credit card things as well. It was a present so thanks for the warning. Of course when I go abroad I prefer to take my full size Swiss Army pen knife which is much more useful for opening wine and making wind and sun shades for my better half. I used to have an excellent one which had a locking blade but lost it and I have not seen them since so maybe they have been banned.

Returning however to the story, it seems common sense and discretion have gone completely out the window (if they were ever there!). Are we really expected to believe that in any given circumstances the police cannot make a sensible judgement? If the answer is yes, that they cannot make a sensible judgement we are in deep trouble. If the answer is no, i.e they can make such a decision but choose not to, then again we are in deep trouble.

Typical jobsworth security, so a retired RE Brig will hold up the Eurostar with just what precisely?

Wankers the lot of them!

They still have his DNA & fingerprints though....

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