The father of a 14-year-old girl was questioned and mistaken for a paedophile after staff at Travelodge reported him for grooming his own daughter. The father-daughter duo were staying at the budget hotel while they visited his cancer-stricken mother in Macclesfield, Chester.
Karl Pollard, 46, was confronted at his hotel room by officers who revealed Travelodge staff had reported him believing his daughter was an underaged girl who had been groomed. Karl said he was "treated disgustingly" and was forced to prove during questioning that his 14-year-old daughter Stephanie was his child.
The incident left the girl in tears and made the upsetting trip even worse, he said. According to the Mirror, Travelodge admitted staff "got it wrong," apologised to Karl and refunded the cost of the stay.
"I couldn't believe it. It was an emotional trip already - but it was made so much worse," Karl said. "One minute I was brushing my teeth, the next I was being told I was a paedophile."
The pair had taken a four-hour train journey from south Wales to visit his ailing mother at home. "My mum has just been diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer. We're not sure how long she has left," Karl said.
"I wanted to take Stephanie down to visit her before she started treatment."
Karl, a carer for his 45-year-old wife Kim who has multiple sclerosis, said he booked a double room after he was told it was the only room remaining. "When we arrived the receptionist gave me a weird look but I thought nothing of it. We went up to the room to get unpacked and ready to see my mum," he said.
He said around 10 minutes later, they heard a knock on the door. "A policewoman was standing there. I thought something had happened to my mum or my wife," he said. "But she said 'We've had a call from Travelodge, they believe you are a paedophile grooming underage girls.'"
The office proceeded to interview Karl and Stephanie separately. "I explained to her that I was Stephanie's dad. The officer had to ask her loads of questions to prove it."
Although police dropped the matter quickly, Karl said the incident left Stephanie "distraught" and "in tears". He added that this had never happened to him before.
Karl said that he had not received an apology or an offer for a refund from Travelodge. In a statement, the hotel said it was sorry and that the stay had been refunded.
"It was an already traumatic trip. I was treated disgustingly. The worst was my daughter, she was just so distraught," he said.
Travelodge said in a statement:"We are sorry for any distress caused to Mr Pollard. We take our responsibilities towards protecting children and vulnerable young people extremely seriously," a spokeswoman said.
It added: "In the past, proactive action by our hotel teams has helped to safeguard young people at risk. In this instance we got it wrong and we have apologised to Mr Pollard, as well as refunded his stay."
In a statement, Cheshire Police said Travelodge staff "did the right thing by reporting what they believed to be suspicious activity" and said that it thankfully "turned out to be a misunderstanding".
A similar incident occurred last year when Travelodge accused another father, Craig Darwell, of being a paedophile when he booked a stay with his 13-year-old daughter Millie.