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10.3.12






'My friend is a generous person, and when he gave me the jacket I thought it was beautiful – but it didn't suit me,' she said from her home in Wandsworth, South London. 
 'I didn't want my friend to know I was trying to exchange it, but after a couple of months I phoned Mulberry to talk about the jacket, and decided to go into the New Bond Street store.

  'It took ages for it to be sorted out. The store manager kept telling me it wouldn't be much longer. Eventually the police walked in.  'I didn't know what was going on and when the police officer said I was under arrest for handling stolen goods I was in shock. Then she whacked the handcuffs on me. I was so upset, I was in a mess.'  Miss Wheeler said that after waiting an hour for a patrol car to turn up, she was 'paraded' down New Bond Street in her handcuffs on the way to a police station.
 'It was so humiliating,' she said. 'I was left in a cell for four or five hours and when I asked how long it would be they replied, "How long is a piece of string? You could be looking at staying overnight".  'Then hours later a detective breezed in and said they had got hold of my friend, who was on holiday in Barbados, and he corroborated my story that the jacket wasn't stolen.  'It's been hugely embarrassing,' she said. 'I feel angry and it's left a bitter taste in my mouth.'

 A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: 'Following enquiries the woman was released and no further action was taken.'  A Mulberry spokesman said staff called police after being 'forewarned that a customer was attempting to return a product which had not been sold by Mulberry'. She suggested the jacket was not authentic before declining to comment further. 
 

 To make matters worse, her friend was dragged into the row when he was telephoned as part of the criminal inquiry.  Now police have decided there is no case to answer, and have told Miss Wheeler, 25, she can collect her jacket from them.  But there are still questions about its origins as Mulberry insists that it may not be the genuine article.

  She insists the explanation is simple. Unbeknown to her, her friend had bought the jacket direct from the East London manufacturer.  That meant she was not entitled to a refund or exchange from Mulberry but she had no idea of that when she arrived at the shop.

 She said Mulberry staff believed only six of the jackets had been made. One, a size 8 like hers, had been stolen from the store, leaving them fearing she was trying to exchange stolen goods.  Last night Miss Wheeler, who works for an antiquities firm specialising in Egyptian, Greek and Roman coins, told how the drama unfolded last week.

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