Met police deny 'misconduct issues' in stop and search of Linford Christie athletes

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  • July 5, 2020
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The Metropolitan Police has said there were “no misconduct issues” in the stop and search of two black athletes coached by Linford Christie, after the former Olympic champion accused Scotland Yard of “institutionalised racism”.

Officers stopped a car in Maida Vale, west London, on Saturday afternoon after it was seen driving suspiciously, and a 25-year-old man and 26-year-old woman were searched, the Met said.

Mr Christie, who shared a video of the incident on Twitter, said the police had stopped the athletes outside their home and assaulted the male driver.

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The couple, reported by The Times to be British sprinter Bianca Williams and Portuguese athlete Ricardo dos Santos, had been travelling with their three-month-old baby at the time, Mr Christie added.

Footage shows the man being pulled from the car while the woman, in obvious distress, says “he didn’t do anything” as officers attempt to calm her down.

A male voice can be heard shouting in the background towards the end of the clip, which was shared with the note “racist police aren’t just in America”.

Mr Christie called on the Met chief, Cressida Dick, “or anyone else” to justify the officers’ conduct.

In a statement, the former Olympic 100-metre champion said: “Can Cressida Dick or anyone else please explain to me what justification the Met Police officers had in assaulting the driver, taking a mother away from her baby all without one piece of PPE and then calling the sniffer dog unit to check the car over.

“Was it the car that was suspicious or the black family in it which lead to such a violent confrontation and finally an accusation of the car smelling of weed but refusing to do a roadside drug test.”

“This is not the the first time this has happened (second time in two months). And I’m sure it won’t be the last but this type of abuse of power and institutionalised racism cannot be justified or normalised any longer.”

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The Independent Office for Police Conduct replied to Mr Christie’s video tweet and said: “We are aware of this matter and will be making further inquiries.”

On Sunday, the Metropolitan Police said officers from the Directorate of Professional Standards had reviewed footage from social media and officers’ bodycams and were satisfied there was no concern around the incident.

Helen Harper, the commander for central west basic command unit, said: “I understand the concern when incidents like this happen and how they can appear when part of it is filmed without context.

“Due to the concern raised, we conducted a review of the stop. This included social media footage and bodyworn camera footage of the officers at the scene.

“We are satisfied that there are no misconduct issues.”

The Met said the vehicle was “driving suspiciously” and had been on the wrong side of the road at one point. The force added that when officers indicated for it to stop, the car sped off.

Officers caught up with the vehicle when it stopped on Lanhill Road but the driver initially refused to get out of the car, the Met said.

“The officers were deployed to a high-violence area of London and the manner of the driving raised suspicion. It is only right that they act on it. We are open to discussing the incident with the individuals involved if they wish to do so,” Mr Harper said.