Police officer 'orders driver to remove B******* to Brexit car sign'

25 November 2019, 14:43 | Updated: 25 November 2019, 18:52

Essex Police is investigating claims that an officer ordered a driver to remove a "B******* to Brexit" sign from his car.

Peter Cook says he was a passenger in the Mini Cooper - which had the anti-Brexit message emblazoned across it - when it was pulled over on the M25 near Brentwood on Sunday at around 2.30pm.

Footage posted on Twitter purportedly shows the officer standing next to the vehicle as a man - believed to be the driver - crouches down to remove some of the lettering.

Mr Cook, 61, from Kent, told Sky News being pulled over on the hard shoulder was "totally unsafe" and that the driver of the car was left "terrified and shaking".

He added: "I was angry on behalf of my friend who felt absolutely intimidated by the guy."

Mr Cook says he is pursuing a complaint against the police and wants a "full and frank unreserved apology" over the incident. He is considering requesting a donation to a charity which equates to the cost of the removed lettering.

In the video, Mr Cook is heard describing the officer as "very aggressive" and claims the officer told him he could not even say the word "b*******" because "ladies may be present, even though they're not".

"This is absolutely shocking," he adds.

"Here we have the long arm of the law being used to shut down any form of protest."

Mr Cook said the officer had claimed that displaying "B******* to Brexit" on the car was an offence but told Sky News that he doesn't believe they were breaking any laws.

"I do recognise... that one of two people could be offended," he said, adding that if a child can recognise the word then they are already aware of it and that he believes it is more likely those who would be offended are "75-year-old Brexit voters who use it to shut down protests".

He accepts some people may be offended by it and the car now has some of the letters replaced by asterisks.

An Essex Police spokeswoman told Sky News: "We are trying to identify the officer from the video footage to establish the circumstances around what happened.

"In the meantime, we would encourage the driver to get in touch with us."

However, Essex Police has not commented on whether it considers displaying a "B******* to Brexit" sign to be a public order offence.

Nottingham Magistrates' Court reportedly ruled in 1977 that "b*******" was not an obscene word in the case of a record store manager who had been arrested for displaying the Sex Pistols' debut album Never Mind The B*******, Here's The Sex Pistols.

Earlier this year, the Liberal Democrats MEPs wore t-shirts including the phrase "B******* to Brexit" in the European parliament.