An AA patrolman has fallen victim to a firm of 'rogue clampers' in East London who immobilised his van, blocked it in and then demanded more than £1,000 to release the vehicle.
Andrew Cornhill, 41, had stopped to help two women who had been stranded when their Mercedes would not start on Wednesday afternoon.
The clampers, LBS Enforcement, fitted a clamp to his bright yellow van, and then demanded £700 for its release, adding £80 tickets to the windscreen every half an hour it remained in place.
Mr Cornhill, from Harlow, said: "I was only away from the van five or 10 minutes and they clamped it. I explained I was working on a breakdown but they couldn't care less. I felt very intimidated by them."
After three hours, the AA caved in and paid the clampers the total fine of £1,080.75, which included a bizarre £80 fine for swearing. As the charges increased, the AA called the police, but eventually got the van released at 3.45pm - over three hours after the encounter had begun.
AA president Edmund King said: "Over £1,000 to remove a clamp is absurd. I will be talking to our lawyers to see how we can get it back."
"The vehicle (the AA van) was parked on a private road and the vehicle he was attending to was parked on a main road. He didn't want to park on a double yellow line."
He explained that the van was boxed in as the patrolman had attempted to remove the clamp.