A man who placed a poster of David Cameron containing the word "wanker" in his window has described how police handcuffed him in his home on election day, threatened him with arrest, and forcibly removed what they said was offensive campaign literature.
David Hoffman, 63, said police went "completely over the top" when they visited his home in Bow, east London, and demanded he take down the poster, which had been fixed to his window for weeks.
After he expressed concern at his treatment, Hoffman says, a local inspector told him over the phone that "any reasonable person" would find his poster "alarming, harassing or distressful". The visit from police followed a complaint from a neighbour, who told Hoffman she found the poster offensive. The word "wanker" was printed beneath a photograph of a smiling Cameron.
Hoffman said four officers knocked on his door on polling day. When asked by them for identification, he said he tried to momentarily close the door. The officers then forced the door open, he said.
"They burst into my house, pushed me back and handcuffed me. They said I had committed an offence under section 5 of the Public Order Act, I was being detained, and I might be arrested."
Coincidentally, Hoffman has become one of Britain's most respected photojournalists after three decades chronicling alleged police brutality. He said that after the officers looked up his identity, they "calmed down". But the poster, one of several images of party leaders produced by the veteran anarchist group Class War, was removed.
In a statement, the Metropolitan police denied officers forced their way into Hoffman's home and claimed he was "restrained with handcuffs to prevent a breach of the peace" after becoming agitated. It said that "words of advice were given to the resident … who removed the material".
Hoffman said he would lodge a formal complaint. He has since returned the poster to his window, but replaced the word "wanker" with "onanist", derived from a biblical character in Genesis 38:9 whose seed was "spilled on the ground".
David Cameron is a Wanker!
Raid me you fuckers!