A WOMAN was strip-searched and her family accused of being a shoplifting gang during an ordeal at a York supermarket.
Gwen Richardson is demanding an apology and considering legal action after the treatment she, her husband Tony and their adult daughter received at Asda Monks Cross.
Mrs Richardson, 67, said her daughter, who has bipolar disorder and they asked not to be named, was strip-searched by a female police officer, while Mr Richardson, 70, was searched by a male officer.
North Yorkshire Police confirmed the officers were called to the store by staff who had raised concerns about shoplifting.
Although she was able to produce receipts for all their purchases, Mrs Richardson said a security guard also accused her of bribery.
Mr Richardson suffered a stroke in 2010 and was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat earlier this year.
Following the incident, doctors have said it may take another two years for his speech to get back to its previous level.
On March 4, Mrs Richardson and her daughter went straight to the supermarket's George clothing section.
The daughter looked at underwear and a jacket and later gave them to her mother to pay for, which she did, getting separate receipts for them and her groceries. At this point the daughter went off on her own to browse the shop.
Mrs Richardson said herself and her husband then approached the exit. She said: "I said 'there's a lot of police here today, they must be watching something'.
"As we went through, the alarm went off and the security guard approached us."
Mrs Richardson assumed there must still have been a security tag on the jacket.
She added: "He said 'have you got some underwear in there?'
"The security guard said we were a shoplifting gang.
"I said 'you what!'
"He said we had been moving clothes about and hiding them on our persons."
Mrs Richardson was then asked about the other woman, meaning her daughter, who she had left browsing.
She said: "At that point, the police were already searching her.
"She was taken to a room and stripped to her underwear.
"In the meantime, I showed them the receipts and said we've got all this shopping in here."
When Mrs Richardson retrieved the second receipt for the groceries, a £20 note came out in her hand as well.
She said the security guard told her: "You can't bribe me with that".
Mrs Richardson added: "I said 'this is unbelievable, I just can't believe what's going on."
Meanwhile, Mr Richardson was struggling to answer the police's questions due to his speech problems.
"My husband was looking very distressed, but the policeman said he was just doing his job," said Mrs Richardson.
She was allowed to leave with the trolley and found her daughter in the car park after she had been let out through a side entrance.
Mr Richardson was then searched in the same room as his daughter had been and again nothing was found.
Mrs Richardson and her daughter returned to the entrance to see her husband in a distressed state as other customers walked past.
On the way home, Mr Richardson stopped to be sick and his condition worsened over the weekend.
Mrs Richardson took her husband to the doctor on Monday, who said he should go to hospital.
She said: "By Tuesday, he was in hospital and the consultant that saw him was gobsmacked."
Doctors told her Mr Richardson's experience had affected him very badly.
"It has set his speech back about five years and could take him another two years before it gets right."
Mrs Richardson has contacted the Citizen's Advice Bureau and is now looking at legal action.
An Asda Spokesperson said: “We're sorry for any embarrassment caused to the Richardson family, this was never our intention. We hope to welcome them back into our York store again soon.”
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: "Police were called to Asda by staff there who reported concerns of suspected shoplifting.
"Officers attended the store, but no offences were identified and no further action taken.
"If anyone wishes to make a complaint, they should contact us directly."