Trading Standards ate my PC

Fraud probe man claims agency junked his computer

A Scottish man is incensed with the poor condition of computer equipment returned to him after a criminal investigation against him collapsed.

Keith Calder, from the Moray region of North East Scotland, complains that his £4000 computer was returned after a year-long probe by police and local council officials looking like "a pile of junk". He is reportedly in talks with his solicitor about suing Moray Council about the alleged damage to his family's computing equipment.

The council denies damaging the equipment while in its care.

The investigation against Calder began after BT complained the father of three was "fraudulently" accessing the Internet.

As a result, his Portgordon house was raided by three CID officers and six uniformed officers on 10 September last year, local paper the Press and Journal reports".

But police found no evidence that he was attempting to gain access to the Internet without paying, and the case against him was dropped after prosecutors rejected a report by Trading Standards officers.

One of the peculiarities of the case is that, at the time of the raid, Calder states that he was paying £60 a month to access BT's Openworld Broadband Satellite service.

"Why would I then want to hack into the Internet when I have this?" he asked.

Despite everything that happened, BT is still demanding £1700 in installation and connection charges for the satellite system from the Calder family. Calder is considering legal action against BT.

Fallout

Calder is, if anything, even more angry with his local council.

Even though Calder was cleared of the charges against him, Moray Council's Trading Standards department initially said it intended to destroy the computer anyway. However, after his story appeared in the Press and Journal, council officials relented and agreed to hand over the PC. Calder was left fuming at its allegedly poor state of repair.

"My computer was in bits," he said. "The tower had been damaged, the printer was not working and was leaking ink and the satellite modem had not been put back together properly.

"When I went to collect the equipment it looked like a pile of junk on the floor. It was definitely not in the same state it was in when it left my house.

"I think that Trading Standards officials believed that I was never going to get the computer back again - that it would eventually be destroyed - and so the condition of the equipment would not matter," he added.

Trading Standards manager Peter Adamson denies the computer was sent back in a poor condition.

"I do not recognise Mr Calder's description of it as a pile of junk," he said.

Meanwhile, Trading Standards officers are yet to return the computer's hard drive, pending its re-format, a condition Calder was obliged to accept to get his computer back. ®