London police hit by new offensive messages scandal

Three officers charged with sending grossly offensive messages on a public communications network



AFP file photo
AFP file photo

By AFP

Published: Thu 17 Feb 2022, 10:47 PM

Three London police officers were charged Thursday with sharing "grossly offensive" messages, prosecutors said, in the latest scandal to hit the UK capital's increasingly tarnished force.

The messages were posted in a WhatsApp group chat that also included former officer Wayne Couzens, who was last year jailed for life for raping and murdering 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard, reports said.

The Metropolitan Police Service has been left in crisis following various controversies -- including the conviction of Couzens -- which saw its chief Cressida Dick resign last week.

In the latest incident, two current officers and one former colleague are accused of sharing reportedly racist and misogynistic texts between April and August 2019.

The three were charged by Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after the Met referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct for investigation.

The watchdog concluded its probe in December, when it handed a file of evidence to prosecutors for review.

"The CPS has authorised charges against two serving Metropolitan Police officers and one former officer," Rosemary Ainslie, head of the CPS's Special Crime Division, said.

"Each of the three defendants has been charged with sending grossly offensive messages on a public communications network," she added.

The trio will appear in court for a hearing on March 16.

The numerous scandals to engulf the Met have ranged from incidents involving racism and sexism to alleged corruption.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said earlier this month he was "utterly disgusted" after the police watchdog said officers in one city centre station had sent each other "shocking" racist, sexist and homophobic messages.

The force was already reeling from the rape and murder of Everard, who was kidnapped by then-police officer Couzens in March 2021 after he falsely arrested her for breach of coronavirus restrictions.


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