Met officers shared WhatsApp messages praising rapist, tribunal hears

Met officers shared WhatsApp messages praising rapist, tribunal hears thumbnail

A WhatsApp group containing Metropolitan police officers included messages that praised a rapist, made offensive remarks about the Holocaust, abused disabled people and applauded violence against women, a tribunal has heard.

The group, which called itself Secret Squirrel Shit and swapped the messages between 2016-18, also saw insults directed at Harvey Price, the son of the model Katie Price.

Evidence from the discipline tribunal came on a day of further challenges for Britain’s biggest force, with its head also saying officers needed a large pay rise to stave off a recruitment crisis.

The discipline tribunal heard from Daniel Hobbs, for the Met, who said that eight serving and former officers were in the WhatsApp group whose messages were part of a “toxic, abhorrent culture”.

Some of the officers have already resigned, and the Met is arguing that those remaining should be sacked.

Hobbs said former sergeant Luke Thomas suggested to the WhatsApp group that he would name his dog “Auschwitz”, “Adolf” or “Fred” or “Ian”, after “my two favourite child sex killers”.

The hearing was told another officer praised a male police officer who “once got away with rape” and wrote that he was a “legend in my eyes”.

All the officers were attached to the South East Command Unit, with Hobbs describing the messages as sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic and applauding “sexual violence against women”. That hearing continues.

Meanwhile, the Met faced fresh embarrassment as it was revealed an officer who had been caught masturbating on a train twice had been judged fit to remain an officer, receiving a final written warning in 2019. The incident had occurred in 2017, with the officer later pleading guilty to the criminal charge of outraging public decency.

The broadcaster LBC revealed the story, with the Met announcing a review. Commander Jon Savell said the officer would have been sacked had the case been heard now.

The Met commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, has said the force had allowed its standards to slip, and abhorrent behaviour from officers would no longer be tolerated.

But the commissioner is facing multiple challenges and revealed that the force could fall 1,000 officers short of the target set for it by government as part of a plan to hire 20,000 officers across England and Wales, the same number lost to austerity enacted by the Conservatives.

Rowley said officers needed a 10% pay rise tied to reforms based on “their skills, performance and values” rather than long service, with police constables’ starting pay having remained virtually static in a decade. This call is backed by other police chiefs around the country.

Rowley said: “This is not about benevolence or sentimentality to my officers but simply about being calmly businesslike about what it will take for me to deliver the quality of policing that Londoners deserve.”

The force faces further damning reports to come. Rowley’s efforts to turn the Met around will be aided by Dame Lynne Owens. In the worst-kept secret in policing, she has been confirmed as the permanent deputy commissioner, having taken the job on a temporary basis when Rowley took office in September.

Separately, a police officer, DS Steven Colclough, is due to appear in court on Wednesday charged with three counts of voyeurism, the Met said, adding: “The allegations relate to incidents that took place between April 2017 and April 2021, when DS Colclough was both on and off-duty.”