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Schoolboy, 15, held as terror suspect after taking photos of railway station for GCSE project

Friday, October 31, 2008

A schoolboy was held as a terrorist suspect by police support officers – for taking photographs of a railway station on a geography field trip.

Fabian Sabbara, 15, was dressed in his school uniform when he was stopped by three police community support officers for taking photos of a station on his mobile phone.

He explained he was taking pictures, as well as pedestrian counts and a traffic survey, as part of a GCSE project.



But PCSO Barry Reeve told Fabian, from Cheam in South London, to sign forms under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allows police to stop and search at random anyone they suspect of terrorism.

The pupil from Rutlish High School, Merton, was forced to comply or face arrest after he was stopped at nearby Wimbledon railway station.

After the incident, his mother Clare and father Felix contacted police to remove any record of the incident against their son’s name – but were told it had to remain in place for six years.

Scotland Yard have since wiped the record from their database, but Mr Sabbara, 48, an audio-visual installer, said the incident could have affected Fabian’s future employment chances.

He said the matter had also sparked fear at Fabian’s school, where trips had been banned over concerns that pupils could be stopped by police for taking pictures.

Mr Sabbara said: ‘Fabian was just a 15-year-old boy trying to do his school work. He had done nothing wrong.