A housewife was listed among the the most wanted Brits in the world by Interpol

Monday, 11th June 2018, 9:59 am
Updated Monday, 11th June 2018, 11:34 am

A housewife has told how Interpol mistakenly named and photographed her alongside alleged paedophiles and murderers in a list of the most wanted Brits in the world

Adriana Barton, 41, was horrified when her name and passport photo was featured in a list of the world's 25 most wanted British alleged criminals.

The mum-of-two was contacted by worried friends and family when she appeared as one of just three women included in the global appeal for wanted fugitives.

The 'red notice' accused her of fraud in Costa Rica and was published on Interpol's website.

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Terrified she locked all her doors and windows before plucking up the courage to 'hand herself in' to local police.

Mrs Barton from Weymouth - who has never been in trouble with the law - spent hours at the station while baffled officers rang law enforcement authorities around the world.

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She was allowed home "until they could get to the bottom of it" - but it took the National Crime Agency SIX MONTHS to apologise.

Passport error

Lawyers for the NCA admitted they handed over her passport details and photo to Interpol in Costa Rica in "error" when police their asked for info on another criminal suspect.

But astonishingly they denied liability for defamation - despite her photo and name being reproduced by newspapers and websites around the world.

Even now when Adriana searches for her name in an online search engine, her face appears in 'rogues galleries' of the most sought alleged criminals.

She said: "I can't believe they could make such a mistake.

"They were looking for a criminal fraudster - but they issued a picture and name of a housewife in Weymouth.

"I think it's outrageous.

"Robbers... and murderers"

"When I looked at the page I was shaking. It was robbers and rapists and murderers - and me.

"Interpol and the NCA are supposed to protect people. It makes you worry about trusting the system.

"You would think before they hand over these details about people they would double, if not triple check.

"It can destroy someone's life. It makes me so angry to just think about it."

Adriana Barton from Weymouth, Dorset whose photo was accidentally put on the NCA and Interpol 'Most Wanted' Brits list

Adriana was out power-walking when she received a message from a friend in Ireland asking if she was ok, accompanied by a link to a story on the Sun Online, in July 2017.

Mrs Barton opened the link and the story included her passport photo and name and said she was wanted for fraud.

She thought the story about 'Interpol's 25 most wanted Britons in world' was a mock-up by her pal.

No joke

"I phoned her, and she wasn't joking," said Adriana, who moved to England from Costa Rica in 1997, and is married to joiner Mark, 49.

"I just panicked. I felt sick. I started shaking. I put the phone down and started locking the doors and windows.

"I knew I hadn't done anything wrong. I thought the police would be banging on the door and everyone would be looking for me.

"If it had been a different photo or has said 'wanted in China' I wouldn't have worried, but it had my passport photo and said 'Costa Rica' and I'm originally from Costa Rica."

The list included a 47-year-old pilot wanted in the US for allegedly grooming and sexually abusing children, and a terrorist, 43, is wanted for kidnapping and murder.

Of the 'wanted' Adriana, it had Mrs Barton's photo, her name, but wrongly said she was Brazilian born, aged 47, and wanted for fraud in Costa Rica.

She called two friends who accompanied her to Weymouth Police Station while her husband returned home from working in London.

Handcuffs

"I was sat there and every time I saw someone come in the room with handcuffs I thought 'this is it, I'm going to be stuck in a police cell until they sort this out'," recalled Adriana, who has a 15-year-old daughter, and a son, 13.

She was taken alone to an interview room where she explained while it was her photo on the Interpol wanted list, the age was wrong, and she wasn't born in Brazil - or guilty of fraud.

"They couldn't make sense of it. They told me to go home. They said I had done the right thing by coming in and they knew where to find me."

She added: "The next day the police told me not to worry because they couldn't find out what it was all about.

"But I felt like everyone was looking at me.

"It was in my head of course, but I've lived in this town for 22 years. I go to the shops, I take the kids to school, so anyone I know who sees that photo is going to think it means me.

"It made me feel ill for a good couple of months.

Anxiety

"Since then I've had anxiety, I've been to the hospital with heart palpitations, I've had to go to A&E because I've felt like I was having a heart attack. I've never had anything liek that before."

Adriana and her husband visited the Costa Rican Embassy in London to inform them of the truth, as well as contacting its government.

They hired a lawyer who managed to get some of the news sites to remove her photo from their pages - but shockingly the story hit the papers in Costa Rica four weeks later.

Their barrister complained to the National Crime Agency - the UK's arm of Interpol - who confirmed it gave its Costa Rican counterpart her details in "error".

It took the NCA six months to admit the mistake, and the couple are still trying to pursue them legally.

Compensation

But they claim they have been told they are only eligible for a couple of thousands compensation.

A letter from the NCA's legal department to Adriana's lawyer, said "liability in defamation is denied".

It added: "In 2014 the National Crime Bureau of San Jose (that is, the relevant agency for Interpol matters in Costa Rica) made requestes to the NCA (its UK counterpart) in relation to a criminal suspect who was not your client.

"In response to those requests, in October 2014, the NCA supplied to the Costa Rican NCB your client's passport photograph, her passport number, and her date of borth.

"This was an error and we apologise for it.

"Information shared between NCBs is usually for intelligence purposes only and is not generally made police by the requesting NCB."

A spokesman for the NCA said: "In 2014 Mrs Barton's photo was incorrectly shared with the Costa Rican authorities for intelligence purposes in response to a request made by them. At no point was the NCA made aware that this intelligence would be made public some time later. However, we accept that the photo was shared in error and we have apologised fully to Mrs Barton. As discussions are ongoing with her legal representatives it would not be appropriate for us to comment further."