On January 30th, my wife Anna and I travelled from London Road Station in Brighton, to London Victoria. The ticket office at London Road Station had just closed, so we couldn't purchase tickets by bank card. In similar circumstances, on previous occasions, we travelled one stop to Brighton Main Station and purchased tickets for our entire journey there. We had asked at the station if this was okay, and were told that it was fine under the circumstances. So, on January 30th, we felt it was accepted practice to purchase our tickets at Brighton Main Station.

We arrived at the station, and queued at the kiosk next to the gates with the intention of purchasing tickets. The queue moved very slowly, as the employee there had several arguments with other passengers. At the front of the queue, we explained our situation. The employee there was very rude and dismissive, would not allow us to purchase our tickets, and ordered us to pay a penalty fare of ten pounds for the journey from London Road. We refused, and were told to speak to a man, later learned to be Richard Crane, penalty fares officer for Thameslink.

Again, we explained our situation and our understanding from previous journeys. The officer was also rude and condescending. Two other penalty fares officers joined the discussion, as we noticed more than a dozen officers in total working at the gates on this evening. They ordered us to pay a penalty fare. I later learned that Thameslink had no jurisdiction to issue a penalty fare for a South Central route, but at no time was I notified of this fact. At some point, they seperated my wife and I into two seperate discussions. My discussion became an interrogation, as Mr. Crane questioned me in detail on the layout of London Road Station and mocked my answers. I looked over to see my wife crying as two officers questioned her. I started to walk towards her to find out what had upset her. Mr. Crane physically blocked me from approaching her, and ordered me in the other direction.

After this, I was very upset and only wanted for us to leave from this horrible situation. I consented to the penalty fare and, as I wasn't thinking clearly, attempted to give false details to Mr. Crane. I regret having done this and realize it's seriousness. It was a mistake of the moment.

Satisfied with the outcome, Mr. Crane began to escort me out of the gates, leaving my wife, still upset and being questioned by two officers. I refused to leave, and he only let me go to her after his supervisor ordered him to do so. The supervisor was very apologetic and frankly looked shocked at the situation. Anna was released without charge or penalty, and we were allowed to leave to the ticket office to finally purchase our tickets for London. We were shocked and relieved this episode was over.

Thameslink has asked for a fare of 1 pounds 30. Our entire journey was on South Central trains, and the tickets have been purchased.

Thameslink has asked for me to pay costs of 100 pounds. I disagree with this application. Thameslink officers have abused their powers, and it's not right for their legal department to continue this abuse. Thameslink had over a dozen penalty fares officer on duty this evening, in a clear effort to harass customers and generate prosecutions.

Thank you very much.