Met police seek judicial review over senior black officer’s reinstatement

Il polizia metropolitana want go to the high court to insist it was correct in its decision to sack a decorated black officer after she was found with a child abuse video, sent to her on WhatsApp, on her phone.

Supt Robyn Williams was reinstated in June having been dismissed in 2020, after a conviction for possessing child abuse images sent to her unsolicited on a chat group.

That conviction led to her dismissal from the Met at a disciplinary hearing chaired by a senior Met officer, despite pleas from many in policing.

Nel mese di giugno, the police appeals tribunal (PAT) overturned the Met decision, saying it had acted unfairly and Williams was able to return to work. During her 36-year career Williams was decorated and rose to become one of the most senior female African-Caribbean officers in Britain.

Williams won praise for her work after the 2017 Grenfell fire, when relations between the traumatised community and the authorities were fraught. She has campaigned for more women in policing and won the Queen’s police medal.

In a statement the Met said it wanted to seek a judicial review of the decision to quash William’s sacking by the PAT. Britain’s largest force said it also wanted to challenge the reinstatement of another officer ordered by the PAT after a criminal conviction, but details of that case are not being made public.

Williams and the unnamed officer will remain in the Met while legal action proceeds through the courts.

Explaining its actions and decision to spends tens of thousands of pounds in the legal challenges, the Met said public confidence could be at stake and added: “The PAT has made findings in two separate cases that overturned carefully considered decisions to dismiss officers from the Metropolitan police, which had been made in special case hearings following criminal convictions.

“The special case hearings had deemed that the convictions amount to gross misconduct, and that the officers should be dismissed. In both cases the PAT did not agree with these findings and replaced the officers’ dismissals with a final written warning.

“In both cases the Met believes there was a failure by the PAT to make a proper assessment of the seriousness of the convictions. The Met also finds the duty to reinstate, as a result of the decisions of the PAT, is also in potential conflict with vetting processes.”

Guidance from the College of Policing says forces have discretion about what sanction to take against officers convicted of criminal offences or those who receive a criminal caution.

The case began in February 2018 after Williams received a WhatsApp message from her sister containing a video of a young girl being abused. The sister was outraged and wanted the culprit hunted down by police.

Williams never played the video and she maintains she never knew it was on her phone and thus in her possession. But a jury convicted her after the prosecution said Williams failed to report it because she feared doing so would get her sister into trouble. They pointed to the fact the sisters spent the best part of a day together before the video came to the attention of the police, and said it must have been discussed by the two.

Williams was sentenced to 200 hours community service and placed on the sex offender register, despite the trial judge accepting she was not a danger to children.

Her sister sent the abuse video to a WhatsApp group of 17 persone, one of whom reported it to police. Williams was the only one of the group of 17 to be put on trial.

She had previously lost an attempt to overturn her criminal conviction at the court of appeal.

The Black Police Association said Williams’s treatment by the Met was an example of institutional racism. Others felt Williams had lied about a relatively trivial matter and would have escaped charge and conviction had she told the truth.

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