A WOMAN who was subjected to a “humiliating” police strip search has won an apology and £4,750 damages with help from the activist comedian Mark Thomas.

Care worker Anna Gavenciakova, 34, was “unlawfully” detained by officers on Bournemouth’s Holdenhurst Road last September and then searched at Boscombe Police station She said she could not find any solicitors willing to take on a case against the police but found a specialist London firm after emailing Mark Thomas asking for help.

Anna, from Slovakia, was in an Audi with a male friend when it was stopped by police. The pair had been out for a walk and she was heading home to Springbourne.

She said: “They told him he was suspected of car theft. He explained to them it was an insurance car because he had problems with his own car.”

The police asked Anna for her details but she said she wanted to see their identity cards first.

She said they would only give their numbers and then detained her for “being impolite”.

She was then handcuffed, taken to the station and searched on suspicion of possessing drugs, and released without charge after nothing was found.

Anna said: “I was scared, I didn’t know what was going to happen.

“It felt like it this had been done by somebody else, I would pick up the phone and call the police. But this was the police. Who am I supposed to phone?”

The stop and search forms alleged she had “glazed” eyes and that similar cars had been used in recent robberies. Her friend was not arrested or detained.

Anna searched the internet and found Mark Thomas had won a case against the police for unlawful arrest.

He suggested she contact solicitor Stefano Ruis from London law firm Fisher Meredith, and Mr Ruis advised not to make a complaint because that would delay the civil action.

Her legal action was at first met with a police denial that anything had been done wrong, then with an offer of £3,000 without admission of liability, then finally a full apology.

Tim Whittle, head of Dorset Police’s professional standards department, wrote to her saying: “Having reviewed the file, I would like to express my sincere regret for the incident.

“I accept that the experience would have been humiliating and caused unnecessary embarrassment and distress.

“Dorset Police strive to uphold the highest professional standards. However on this occasion we have not. My sincere apologies.”

Mr Ruis said that police admitted that the officers’ belief Anna was in possession of drugs may not be seen as reasonable.

“I think the case shows if you are prepared to stand up for your rights – and by extension everybody else’s rights – then you can force the police to be accountable,” he said.

“Had Anna pursued a complaint, it’s my opinion that the complaint wouldn’t have been upheld and she wouldn’t have got anywhere.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said: “No official complaint was made. This was a civil action and it would not be appropriate to comment further.”