‘I was jailed for being a paedophile and then Premier Inn denied me £107 refund’

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Dear Katie,

In 2019 I booked to stay at a Premier Inn for six nights, paying in full on arrival. I was standing trial at a Crown Court following a false accusation dating back 30 years.

I had no idea how long the trial might go on. It lasted just four days and the verdict did not go my way (juries sometimes get it wrong). I was sent down for four years.

As it was not possible to ring the Premier Inn from my prison cell to cancel the two remaining nights, I had my solicitor do this for me. It was too late for the first unused night to be refunded, but a refund for the second night for £107.50 was expected. I was released from prison on probation two years later, and for the past six months I have been attempting to extract a refund from the Premier Inn, but without success.

It claims it has no trace of the call from my solicitor and argues the call should have been made by me personally within seven days of the booking.

It was galling enough to serve time for a crime I had not committed without Premier Inn trying to profit from my misfortune.

SE, Wiltshire

Dear Reader,

You disclosed that you were found guilty of a crime but chose not to elaborate further, so I ran an internet search on you. You are a convicted paedophile who was jailed for abusing a young choirboy.

Police described your crimes as “shocking” and “depraved”. The boy, who is now a grown man, initially kept his ordeal a secret and apparently went on to develop gambling and drug addictions as a result of bottling up what he went through. It wasn’t until years later that he finally found the courage to speak out and seek justice.

You maintain you are innocent and now see yourself as a victim of unfair profiteering by Premier Inn to the tune of £107.50.

Putting aside for one second this grim background, a glance at the information you sent me shows your solicitor called the hotel reception but, for reasons unknown, failed to secure the cancellation and subsequent refund on your behalf. You say you weren’t able to make calls from your jail cell at first, but I don’t see why you couldn’t have chased this up once you were given access to a telephone.

This would have given the Premier Inn you stayed at a fair chance to investigate the issue based on contemporaneous information.

But now that more than two years have passed since the booking, I’m afraid it is totally unreasonable to expect the hotel to have retained a detailed account of the call. You have accused Premier Inn of profiting at your expense, yet I can’t see any real evidence that it did anything wrong.

Given this, I’m surprised someone like you who claims to have first-hand experience of a false accusation is quite happy to drag its name through the mud in a national newspaper.

Frankly, I’m surprised you wrote to this column over something comparatively trivial when the circumstances around it are so dreadfully disturbing. This, and the way you have presented yourself as a double victim, leaves me feeling deeply uncomfortable.

Therefore I am not prepared to make any enquiries on your behalf. So now you have two options: take this further via the small claims court, or leave these feelings of being wronged behind and move forward with your life in a more positive way.

From what I can see the latter would probably be a better use of your time. Best of luck.

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