A charity volunteer has been accused of attempting to blackmail a high street retailer after finding confidential material belonging to them dumped in the street.

John Wilson and a 54-year-old woman have been arrested and bailed by police on suspicion of conspiracy to blackmail following a complaint by Boots.

Mr Wilson, of Windmill View in Brighton, found one and half bags of waste outside the pharmacy firm’s George Street store in Hove earlier this month.

The 31-year-old told The Argus that he was completely shocked when police raided his house in the early hours of Friday morning.

Under the terms of his bail, he told how he is prevented from going into any Boots store or contact any employee with the company.

Mr Wilson, who volunteers for Friends of Hove Stroke Club, said he found the confidential information of scores of residents after a seagull ripped open bin bags left outside Boots Opticians.

He immediately put them in his car so they would not fall into the wrong hands.

Mr Wilson said the documents contained dates of birth, addresses, national insurance numbers and even benefit details.

Sussex Police raided his home on Friday and removed all the material belonging to the pharmaceutical retailer.

Mr Wilson said: “I was completely shocked when the police knocked on my door at 7.30am.

“They have taken my mobile phone and all my means of communication.

“It came completely out of the blue.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Detectives have been working with Boots management to investigate an alleged blackmail attempt in relation to information concerning the Boots Opticians branch in George Street, Hove.

“The staff and premises were not under physical threat at any time.”

Mr Wilson has been bailed until September 11 while enquiries continue.