‘Monkey’ comment Pc sacked for racism

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A police officer who said that a black man looked like a monkey has been sacked.

Metropolitan Police constable Kevin Hughes was cleared of racially-aggravated offences in November, but has now been dismissed for gross misconduct, the force said.

Hughes and fellow constable David Hair were both acquitted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in November of using threatening words or behaviour to cause alarm and distress and of racially-aggravated harassment.

Hughes, of Brentwood, Essex, admitted saying a black man looked like a monkey, while Hair was said to have told a black woman colleague he thought she was going to “rant” about overtime and not do any because she was “going home to cook bananas”.

Chief magistrate Howard Riddle said that while Pc Hughes’s language was “unacceptable and offensive”, it did not amount to a criminal offence.

And he said that while the insulting nature of Hair’s comment seemed obvious to many, he did not think it was to him. Hair was said to have been “mortified” when Hughes suggested his comment could be taken as being racist.

In a statement, Scotland Yard said the officers’ behaviour had been brought to the attention of senior management in March 2012.

The matter was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) who conducted an investigation, leading to the officers being charged.

They were cleared but after a misconduct hearing Hughes has been dismissed for gross misconduct in relation to authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct, while Hair was given a final written warning.

Commander Allan Gibson, from the Directorate of Professional Standards, said: “The [IPCC] has made it quite clear that racism is not acceptable within the Met, this is a view supported by the majority of officers and staff, which has been demonstrated by those who were prepared to challenge PC Hughes.

“The public have an absolute right to expect that officers do not hold discriminatory opinions.”

The force said that though the case against Hair was found proven, the panel had noted the opinion of a witness that he did not intend to cause offence.