Lidl apologises 'unreservedly' to North End cancer survivor for recent 'mistaken identity' theft – but bans him anyway

A SUPERMARKET which banned a cancer survivor for shoplifting in an apparent case of mistaken identity has apologised – but has still warned the man to stay away from the store.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 10:48 am
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 4:36 pm

Former throat cancer sufferer Paul Bailey has lashed out at Lidl in London Road, North End, with him branding the store’s treatment of him as ‘disgusting’ and leaving him ‘paranoid’.

The frail 50-year-old was publicly shamed at the store on two occasions after saying he was a victim in a case of mistaken identity.

Paul, who has a tracheostomy tube around his neck so he can breathe and talk, was circled by staff before being accused of shoplifting and frogmarched out of the store by security in September.

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Paul Bailey who was accused of shoplifting from Lidl in London Road, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (091019-30)

The incident followed an alleged theft in August after a worker insisted she chased him down the road. On that occasion he was made to empty his bag in front of shoppers despite having already paid for items – with staff backing off after he showed them a receipt.

Lidl launched a four-month investigation into the alleged thefts after Paul complained to the store. But despite apologising, the supermarket is sticking to its guns and maintaining its ban.

A letter from Lidl’s lawyers, seen by The News, wrote: ‘My client appreciates that you state you were not involved in any attempt to shoplift from their store and if that is the case unreservedly offer their apologies for the mistaken identity.’

But the letter went on to say that ‘members of staff did identify you as having been involved in a previous attempt to take goods from the store without paying’.

The note then added ‘I am unable to confirm that you can return to the store’ before adding: ‘Please accept my client’s sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused.’

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Responding to Lidl’s stance, Paul said: ‘It is disgusting how they’ve treated me and annoying it has taken four months to get to this point.

‘It is absolute rubbish. I wouldn’t steal from anywhere. If I had a shred of doubt why would I be going to all this trouble? Staff said they chased me down the road the first time but I struggle to walk so definitely cannot run. I also had my dog with me and showed them a receipt.

‘I feel victimised and singled out for being a middle-aged man going shopping. I now go to Aldi with my mum so no-one will suspect me. I feel paranoid.’

He added: ‘I just wanted my name cleared but there’s nothing more I can do now. If it can happen to me then it can happen to anyone.’

A spokeswoman for Lidl said: ‘Following a thorough investigation our legal team have upheld the decision.’