Gun police swoop on hunters

A man has received an apology from police after armed officers held his shooting party at gunpoint then locked them up.

Owen White, a surveyor from Up Holland who was on a trip to Scotland, says he feared for his life when police treated him and two colleagues "like terrorists."

They were then driven to a police HQ and locked in cells for almost five hours.

The 64-year-old who has a company in Crawford Village, has since received a written apology from the Deputy Chief Constable of Tayside.

But Mr White said that he had never been so terrified in his life and that the officers did not identify themselves as police.

He said: "We were in the gamekeeper's pick-up and a check could have sorted things out.

"Instead, we were subjected to screaming and shouting and police pointing guns at us. We were handcuffed and locked up overnight and we had not committed any offence."

Mr White was on a night-time fox shoot at the Kinpurnie Estate in Angus when the incident happened.

He was with head gamekeeper Craig Downie, 28, and estate worker Stuart Cairns, 62, when police swooped at 1.45am after receiving a report of gunshots.

Mr White said: "We stopped and the police car pulled in behind us. Craig got out and when I stuck my head out of the window I heard all this shouting at me to put my hands out of the car.

"I was ordered out and told to go the back of the car. A guy pointing a gun at me came out of the lights.

"I was scared, but I said 'point that thing away from me before you shoot me' and he did.

"I saw a sergeant with a gun but he kept shouting every time I tried to explain we were law-abiding people on a legal shoot. There were about six cars, at least a dozen police and a police dog."

The men were taken more than 10 miles to Tayside Police HQ in Dundee, locked in the cells and not released until 7am.

They have contacted the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland and are considering legal action. Mr White said: "I have received a letter from Deputy Chief Constable Bill Harkins apologising for his officers' conduct. But that is too little too late."

Tayside Police insist the use of firearms officers was appropriate. A force spokesman said: "There have been letters between the force and those who raised the complaint, including letters from the deputy chief constable.

"The matter is in the hands of our insurers and it would not be appropriate to comment further."