A single father who was accused of being a paedophile by Travelodge staff during a trip with his 13-year-old daughter has opened up about his experience on This Morning.
Craig Darwell booked a room in the Chertsey, Surrey Travelodge branch for a holiday with his daughter Millie, 13.
But on arrival the widowed father was asked to prove his identity and parental status as staff suspected him of being a paedophile and not Millie’s guardian.
Speaking to Holly and Phil on the ITV show, Craig described how his daughter became ‘distraught’ when he was forced to show staff a birthday message on Facebook to prove he was her father.
‘She were distraught, crying her eyes out. It totally spoiled the night, spoiled the weekend.’
The manager of the hotel asked Craig to show private Facebook messages between himself and his daughter to prove that their relationship was genuine.
The father said that he would have happily brought ID, but as he booked the room online he wasn’t warned that this would be needed.
‘If you are genuine like myself, I will gladly bring ID.’
‘If it’s going to stop anything untoward, it’s quite simple, just flag it up with the booking and say you need to bring it (identification). I think it’s wrong to leave it to the staff to bring their discretion, they could get it wrong, like they did.’
‘They could get it wrong the other way.’
Craig has raised his teenage daughter on his own after her mother died of cancer when Millie was four years old.
Craig spoke to The Sun about the ‘bizarre and offensive’ incident previously, saying, ‘It was bizarre and really offensive. Then he told me that he’d already called police so I had to wait for them to arrive.’
The 46-year-old had been parking the car when he returned to the hotel reception and was accused.
‘I couldn’t believe it. Millie and I have stayed in lots of places over the years and this has never happened to me before.’
Craig Darwell updated his cover photo.
After being investigated by the police, the father-of-one confirmed that it was clear to officers he was not a threat, but that the experience ruined the weekend for him and his daughter.
‘Luckily it took them about two seconds to realise he had got the wrong end of the stick but it ruined the weekend for me.’
A spokesperson for Travelodge defended the staff member’s actions, saying ‘we take our responsibilities towards protecting children and vulnerable young people extremely seriously.’
‘Our colleagues are trained based on current national guidelines from the NSPCC, the police and other agencies and in the past, hotel team actions have led to successful intervention to protect young people.’
The company apologised for the ‘distress’ they caused Craig and Millie and have said they will be investigating the situation.
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‘Clearly fine judgements have to be made and we deeply regret any distress or inconvenience caused to Mr Darwell on this occasion.’
Craig Darwell added a new photo.
‘We are undertaking a full investigation into the circumstances and will take careful note of any lessons learned in due course, including additional training where appropriate.’
‘In the meantime, we would like to apologise to Mr Darwell for the situation he encountered and we will be making further contact with him as our investigation continues.’