27 April 2022

Met Police bosses criticised for defending officers in black athlete search

27 April 2022

Senior Metropolitan Police officers have been criticised for publicly defending junior colleagues involved in the stop and search of two athletes.

Former commissioner Dame Cressida Dick and acting Met boss Sir Stephen House have come under fire for speaking out in the weeks after the controversial stop of GB athlete Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo Dos Santos.

Five officers are facing disciplinary hearings for alleged gross misconduct over the incident, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced on Wednesday.

In a statement issued through her lawyers, Ms Williams said: “I feel particularly vindicated by the IOPC’s decision in light of ex-commissioner Cressida Dick’s public efforts to discredit and undermine our complaints, and to trivialise the experiences of black people in the UK and how we are policed.

“I sincerely hope that the Met’s culture of sweeping these issues under the carpet ends with the former commissioner.”

The sprinter was referring to comments made by Dame Cressida on LBC less than three weeks after the search, in which she said: “I don’t personally accept that what we have seen so far on the video in relation to the stop of Miss Williams reveals racism.

“Having seen some of the footage myself, I would say that any officer worth their salt would have stopped that car that was being driven in that manner.”

The IOPC also investigated a complaint over comments made by the then deputy commissioner Sir Stephen on July 15 2020.

Dame Cressida Dick (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

He told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee that two internal Met professional standards teams had reviewed footage of the stop and “neither team saw anything wrong with it”.

On Wednesday the IOPC said the force should consider apologising for Sir Stephen’s comments.

It added: “The complainants believed it impacted negatively on their lives and their baby.

“We have directed that the MPS determine what action it should take and, in particular, whether it should apologise to the couple.”

The Met insisted that officers should be allowed to speak freely when questioned by scrutiny panels.

It released a statement saying: “Sir Stephen stands by his statement as being factually correct at the time and has written to the IOPC to reinforce the importance of senior officers being able to respond to questions from our scrutiny bodies openly and transparently, and for advice and clarification of the IOPC’s view of how he and his fellow chief officers, both in the Met and nationally, should respond to similar direct questioning in future.”

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