The last thing a devoted dad expected while visiting his sick mother was to be accused of being a paedophile.
46-year-old Karl Pollard had made a four hour journey from his home in South Wales to Macclesfield, Cheshire, accompanied by his 14-year-old daughter Stephanie.
Karl’s mother had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and so the loving son and granddaughter were paying her a visit before her treatment began.
Absolutely awful for the poor Dad. But sadly this is now life as we now know it. If he wasn’t her dad then the lodge would have been crucified by the police and the media if something bad had happened. If you have someone in hospital the last thing you think of is ID for child.
— Debbie (@debbieiw) February 18, 2018
The pair had opted to stay at a Travelodge, conveniently located just a 20 minute walk away from Karl’s mum.
Karl booked a double bedroom for him and Stephanie to share after being informed this was the only room available.
Although he received a ‘weird look’ from the receptionist, Karl did not guess any suspicions had been raised.
However, no sooner had they unpacked, events took a distressing turn.
The budget hotel room was raided by police officers after they’d received a call from Travelodge staff members who mistook Karl for a paedophile, grooming an underage girl.
According to the Daily Star, Karl said:
I couldn’t believe it. It was an emotional trip already – but it was made so much worse.
One minute I was brushing my teeth, the next I was being told I was a paedophile.
Stephanie was then forced to answer multiple questions from police officers to prove to them Karl was her father.
Police quickly dropped the matter, however Karl claims Stephanie was left ‘distraught’ by the traumatising experience:
My daughter was in tears. She was so scared – and thought I was going to get taken away. This has never happened to me before.
Fully agree my daughter is fifteen and I'd be mortified if the staff thought I was a nonce. It'll put single Dad's off taking their kids on holiday through fear of this type of accusation.
— Manc Blue (@AVIT45527694) February 18, 2018
A Travelodge spokesperson said:
All our hotel teams are trained according to national guidelines supported by the NSPCC.
In the past, proactive action by our hotel teams has helped to safeguard young people at risk. In this instance we got it wrong.
A statement from Cheshire Police said:
Police were called at 3pm on Thursday, February 8, to reports of suspicious activity at a hotel on Waters Green in Macclesfield.
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.
I know but if it was me and my 15 yr old daughter I would be a bit embarrassed but grateful that someone was watching out for her
— crowfather (@crowfather1) February 18, 2018
The weekend stay – which was already upsetting due to the nature of his mother’s illness – set Karl back £150.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.