Ok, the following are the key facts about my situation
1) I mistakenly sat on a first class seat on a packed London commuter train with a standard oyster card ticket which was valid for the journey in standard class. I made a genuine error in sitting in the seat.
2) I was asked for my first class ticket by a South West Trains Revenue Protection Officer. I said I didn’t realise I was in first class and I apologised that I didn’t have a first class ticket. I handed him my annual rail pass (purchased in Jan 2013 for £1950 for Southern trains and not valid for that journey) and my oyster card valid in standard class for that journey. He confirmed that the oyster card was valid.
3) He didn’t caution me about my rights (under the PACE regulations, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, I understand that he is required to do so). My understanding is that he must follow the PACE regulations if he believes that that I may have committed a criminal offence and if his evidence (eg my answers to his questions) is to be admissible in court (Note that I am being prosecuted under criminal law, not a bye-law). However, he asked me a series of questions (why are you in first class? do you have the means to pay? what is your name and address? What is your date of birth?). I answered honestly and co-operated throughout.
4) He then confiscated both tickets. When I asked, he refused to tell me why he was allowed to take them and the procedure for getting them back. He simply said ‘I am allowed to do so. You may or may not hear from us.’ I asked him why he was taking my season ticket - he simply said that he was allowed to do so. I understand that he is allowed to confiscate tickets as evidence but I don’t know if there is a procedure that he must follow when he does this.
5) He issued me with a slip of paper headed British Rail (with the British Rail logo) and titled “Excess/Travel Ticket” as a receipt for the ticket withdrawal. British Rail ceased to be a legal entity in 2000. It did not include the date; the time; his name or number; my name or any of my details; the season ticket card details; or the reason for the withdrawal. It simply says: withdrawn - oyster card (with number) and season ticket; the train route number’. The boxes don’t even correspond to the information filled in.
6) He wrote out on his notepad my physical description and he asked me to sign against this if I wished to, which I did. I understand that, under the PACE regulations, he is obliged to record everything in Q&A format, read the statement through with me, ask me to sign, inform me that the facts will be recorded and that I may be prosecuted and ask me again “do you understand?”. He did none of this.
7) I have been told by the SWT Prosecutions Dept that I will receive a court summons to the Magistrates Court. I phoned the Senior Prosecutions Officer at SWT. He read a verbatim statement (I presume from the ticket inspector) of what happened which I had never been shown at the time and which I did not sign and some of the facts of which I do not agree with.
I'm taking this very seriously and am preparing a strong a defence as possible. Hence the request for a good solicitor.
Thanks in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide.