Mon, 03 Feb 2020
Counsel from No5 Barristers’ Chambers have successfully defended two male Metropolitan Police officers (Officers “A” and “B”) accused of discriminating against another officer (Officer “C”) on grounds of her race, and engaging in behaviour amounting to bullying and harassment of the same officer over a six-month period.
The allegations included that officers A and B had, on two occasions, handcuffed C to a chair on police premises. On one of those occasions, it was further alleged that Officers A and B had hit C deliberately in the face with a balloon whilst still handcuffed. Other allegations included that Officer A (represented by Colin Banham) had, on a number of occasions, made physical contact with Officer C intending to trip her up. Both officers were also accused of removing her epaulettes (without consent) and participating in placing these items out of her reach in the office.
Officer A accepted he had handcuffed Officer C to a chair on one occasion explaining this had been a prank and understood to be such by Officer C. He further admitted pretending to trip Officer C up but other witness evidence confirmed this had been reciprocated by C who had also tried tripping him up on occasion. Officers A and B (B was represented by Chris Hopkins) both accepted they had removed her epaulettes and placed them on furniture at height in the office although this had again been in jest and understood to be so by C.
The first day of the 5-day Hearing was taken up by detailed arguments over omissions by the Appropriate Authority (“AA”) to disclose important evidence regarding the shift patterns of all three officers, which had been requested by the solicitors for both officers from the early stages of the investigation. This evidence later proved crucial to the officers’ defence by establishing that the three officers had, in fact, been together in the office on very few occasions during the relevant six-month period. Officer C had claimed in her evidence that the behaviour was constant. It did not simply occur once a day but had been repeated multiple times throughout her shift.
Five of the officers’ colleagues who had been working at the same office during the relevant period also gave evidence. All the witnesses described what had been a good atmosphere in the office with various types of practical joke being played out amongst the officers. Some of the witnesses confirmed they had seen Officer C playing pranks on others in the office and that she had been seen laughing and going along with the admitted handcuff incident (this conflicted with Officer C’s own evidence).
The Panel found no findings of misconduct proved against either Officer A or B, who were described as credible and compelling witnesses. The Panel recommended that Investigating Officers with the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards should be reminded about correct disclosure and that the disclosure process is as important for disciplinary as it is for criminal proceedings.
Both No5 counsel were instructed by John Dance at DAC Beachcroft Claims Ltd.