ICE DIRECTOR General Tom Foulkes this week issued a personal warning to engineers against carrying travel toolkits after being arrested at the Waterloo Eurostar terminal for carrying a 5cm knife blade in his travel case.
'The police explained that possession of an offensive weapon in a public place is a crime, ' said Foulkes.
'The knife was part of a travel toolkit that I have used all over the world. Engineers are practical people, but they need to know that carrying a screwdriver, a penknife or even a pair of nail scissors is a crime.
'Had I been about to board a plane at an airport it would simply have been confiscated and two minutes later it would be over. Instead I was subjected to a five-hour ordeal, ' he said.
Foulkes was on his way to Paris to attend an ICE presidential visit last week when the security scanner at the Eurostar terminal detected the credit card-sized toolkit containing the knife, compass, magnifying glass, bottle opener, screwdriver, toothpick and tweezers.
'I was immediately arrested, bundled into the cage of a police van and taken to Tottenham Court Road custody centre. After nearly four hours of processing and questioning I cheerfully admitted the 'offence' in order to terminate this tedious ordeal, get back to Waterloo and resume my journey to Paris.' So enraged was Foulkes that he wrote to The Times and plans to take the matter to the British Transport Police.
'I will be writing to the chief constable to ask him if this toolkit is really an offensive weapon and if this was really a good use of police time.' Foulkes accepted a caution from police, but has since said that he wishes he had refused and let the matter go to court.
'There are two defences to carrying an offensive weapon.
The first is having lawful authority and the second is that there is a reasonable excuse.
I would argue that carrying a travel toolkit while travelling is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, ' he said.