Writer out walking with his son ‘stopped as paedophile suspect’

The writer and journalist Will Self was stopped by police while out walking with his son because they suspected he was a paedophile, he has said.

The 51-year-old, who also regularly appears on television, was enjoying a long walk with his 11-year-old when a squad car and a police van stopped him on a Yorkshire roadside.

Self, author of Great Apes and The Book of Dave, was questioned about what he and the schoolboy were doing out walking together and his details were checked on the Police National Computer (PNC), he said.

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Self, an enthusiastic rambler, and his son set off in July from London to Whitby on their walking holiday.

He said they crossed the Humber Bridge after 11 days on foot and were aiming to reach a bed and breakfast in North Dalton, near Driffield.

To shave some time off their walk Self asked a security guard at an agricultural college in Bishop Burton, near Beverley, if they could cut through the establishment’s grounds. His answer was a firm no.

He reported him to the police who drafted in a specialist female officer from 30 miles away “since there was a presumption that a child might have to be taken into custody”, said Self.

The writer said the officer had already recognised him from a BBC appearance, but still phoned his details through to the PNC.

The college said the guard had a second encounter with Self and his son in which he overheard them talking about walking to North Dalton, so called the police out of “concern” knowing how far it was.