A FORMER police officer received a £2,000 police payout after officers unlawfully raided his home on suspicion of harassing Essex’s highways chief.

Ken Mason, of Great Ranton, Pitsea, had written several emails to Rodney Bass expressing his unhappiness with the county’s part-night lighting scheme.

But the messages led to Mr Mason wrongly being accused of sending hate mail to Mr Bass’s home address.

He was arrested and his computer was seized, but he was later released without charge.

Mr Mason, 67, said: “All I was told was that I was being arrested for harassing Mr Bass and no details of what that comprised of.

“I also feel the arrest was unnecessary - I would have been happy to answer any questions at my home address.

“I feel that my home has been violated as if a burglar had rifled through my possessions and removed them.

“I regard this as a gross over-reaction by the police and abuse of their authority.”

An investigation by Essex Police’s professional standards department upheld Mr Mason’s complaint that the search of his house had been “unlawful”.

In a letter to Mr Mason, Superintendent Cat Barrie said: “I feel it is appropriate that relevant officers should receive management action in respect of the errors and mistakes made.

“May I also apologise on behalf of Essex Police for this failing.”

This month, the force sent Mr Mason a cheque for £2,000 to settle his civil claim.

But Mr Mason, who was an officer for the Met Police in the 1970s before working as a private security officer for Ford in Dagenham, believes those responsible should be held to account.

In its letter about the complaint, Essex Police confirmed the officers who conducted the unlawful search will not face misconduct action.

Mr Mason said: “I suffered the violation of my property and a great deal of anxiety and trauma because of this incident.

“I do not wish wish for anybody else to suffer like myself.

“They have acted unlawfully and therefore must be accountable.”

Mr Bass declined to comment on the incident.

Officers 'incorrectly searched' home

THERE is no “systematic failing” in Essex Police’s use of search powers, the force claims.

Police confirmed officers were not authorised to search Mr Mason’s home because harassment is not a sufficiently serious offence.

A spokesman said: “Essex Police can confirm a man was arrested on suspicion of harassment.

“He was subsequently released without charge but was issued with an harassment warning.

“A complaint was then received about the arrest and search of the man’s house.

“His arrest was assessed as lawful but officers had incorrectly searched his home believing they had power to do so under section 32 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

“It was established that the section 32 power did not apply to a summary offence of harassment and the search was not lawful for this reason.

“The officers involved have both been given management action to prevent them from making this mistake again but no systemic failing in Essex Police training around use of search powers has been identified.”