02 August 2023

Allegations that senior police officer took LSD dismissed by tribunal panel

02 August 2023

Allegations that a senior police officer who drew up an anti-drugs strategy for the Metropolitan Police took LSD and magic mushrooms have been dismissed by a tribunal panel.

Commander Julian Bennett, who has been in the force since 1976, is accused of smoking cannabis daily – including before breakfast and going to work – and that allegation is still before the tribunal.

He is also said to have failed to provide a urine sample for a drugs test and lied about why.

The allegations about the officer taking magic mushrooms on holiday in France and LSD at a party were “hearsay” allegations made by Hugo Pereria – who lived with the complainant Sheila Gomes and Mr Bennett in late 2019.

The hearing has been told Mr Pereria “always lied” but Ms Gomes claimed this was only when he was asked if he had used drugs.

Panel chairman Akbar Khan said: “The panel takes the view that she (Ms Gomes) wasn’t particularly qualifying about what he (Mr Pereria) lied about… and that he lied and lied as he wished.

“The panel can’t conclude, on the balance of probabilities, that Commander Bennett had taken LSD and magic mushrooms.

“Those allegations are stopped or dismissed by this panel.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Detective Constable Keith Handley told the hearing a decision was taken not to conduct door-to-door inquiries asking neighbours whether they could smell cannabis.

It was also decided that no application for a warrant to search the address should be made.

Checks were conducted to see if there was any information or intelligence on the address using a police computer system.

Mr Bennett’s lawyer John Beggs KC asked the officer: “Do you agree with me that not all reasonable lines of inquiry had been followed?”

He replied: “Yes.”

He also compared the case to that of Liam Allan, who was falsely accused of rape until the case collapsed in 2017 due to police mistakes handling his mobile phone messages. He has made the comparison before.

Mr Bennett wrote the force’s drugs strategy for 2017-21 as a commander for territorial policing.

The document, called Dealing With The Impact Of Drugs On Communities, set up plans to raise “awareness of the impact of drug misuse”.

Freedom of information requests showed Mr Bennett presided over 74 police misconduct hearings involving 90 officers between June 2010 and February 2012.

Out of the hearings involving Mr Bennett, 56 officers were dismissed – more than three quarters.

He chaired 69 hearings during that time and two officers were dismissed for drugs misuse, the figures showed.

Mr Bennett is accused of breaching the force’s professional standards for discreditable conduct three times, honesty and integrity twice and orders and instructions once.

His actions are alleged to have amounted to gross misconduct.

He denies the allegations and has been suspended on full pay since July 2021.

The tribunal continues.

Mr Bennett is expected to give evidence on Thursday.

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