Dad’s shock: ‘I was told I was a paedophile’
A FATHER says he was horrified to be wrongly accused of being a paedophile after he checked into a hotel with his 14-year-old daughter.
And to make matters worse, the whole reason for Karl Pollard's trip was to take his daughter to see his mother, who was about to start cancer treatment.
Mr Pollard, 46, and daughter Stephanie, 14, checked into a Travelodge hotel in Cheshire, north west England, after making the four-hour trip from south Wales earlier this month.
They took a double room as it was the only option available, the dad said.
And when a police officer knocked on the hotel room door minutes after they had settled in, Mr Pollard initially panicked something had happened to his sick mother or his wife, who has multiple sclerosis and had stayed at home.
But instead, the officer told Mr Pollard police had received a call from Travelodge, who believed he was a paedophile grooming underage girls.
"I explained to her [the officer] that I was Stephanie's dad. The officer had to ask her loads of questions to prove it," Mr Pollard told the Daily Star.
"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."
Mr Pollard, who is a carer for his wife, Kim, said he wanted Stephanie to visit her grandmother before she started treatment for aggressive lung cancer.
"We're not sure how long she has left," Mr Pollard said.
The doting dad said the receptionist had given him a "weird look" when he checked in with Stephanie but "he thought nothing of it".
The police arrived at his hotel room door 10 minutes after they got in. Father and daughter were then interviewed separately.
Mr Pollard said while the police officer quickly determined nothing sinister was going on, the experience had left Stephanie "distraught".
"My daughter was in tears. She was so scared - and thought I was going to get taken away," he said.
"This has never happened to me before.
"It was an already traumatic trip. I was treated disgustingly. The worst was my daughter, she was just so distraught."
In a statement to The Sun, Travelodge said: "We are sorry for any distress caused to Mr Pollard. We take our responsibilities towards protecting children and vulnerable young people extremely seriously."
The company said its hotel teams were trained according to national guidelines supported by the UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
"In the past, proactive action by our hotel teams has helped to safeguard young people at risk," the statement continued.
"In this instance we got it wrong and we have apologised to Mr Pollard, as well as refunded his stay."
This is not the first time Travelodge staff have wrongly accused a father of being a paedophile.
Last year, the company issued an apology to widowed dad Craig Darwell, who had a similar experience while checking into a Travelodge hotel with his daughter Millie, 13.
Mr Darwell said that as the pair were checking in to the hotel in Surrey, UK, the receptionist asked him to prove Millie was his child.
"He [the receptionist] said it was company policy and I had to go on to Facebook to show messages I've sent to her," Mr Darwell said at the time.
"It was bizarre and really offensive. Then he told me that he'd already called police so I had to wait for them to arrive."
The devoted single dad, whose wife died when Millie was four, said it took about "two seconds" for police to realise the mistake, however the experience had "ruined" their weekend, in which they planned to visit the UK's famous Thorpe Park theme park as a treat.
But eagle-eyed staff have played an important role in thwarting the abuse of children. This week it emerged an American Airlines worker recused two teenage girls from a sex trafficking ring at Sacramento airport in California after noticing they were travelling alone and with no identification, and that "something just wasn't right".