Pc Robert Nicholson was fired for gross misconduct after a misconduct hearing was told he targeted the girl – who lived in a care home – via internet social networking site Facebook and text after she was arrested, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said yesterday.
Deborah Glass, the Independent Police Complaints Commission commissioner for London, said: “We expect the police to protect us and our families, yet Pc Nicholson’s actions were, from the outset, a disgraceful abuse of his position.”
Pc Nicholson first came into contact with the girl in October 2009 at Bethnal Green Police Station, where he was a jailer and she was brought into the custody suite.
He asked for her phone number and the next day sent 17 text messages. Phone and Facebook records showed the communications developed sexual elements, the disciplinary panel heard.
The relationship came to light in December 2009 after the girl was reported missing from her care home.
Pc Nicholson, who was 27 at the time and based in east London, was arrested before the matter was referred to the IPCC. Last November he was tried and cleared of two charges of sexual activity with the girl.
Evidence showed the pair exchanged hundreds of messages and regularly spoke by phone before Pc Nicholson drove from his home in Colchester to meet her.
Ms Glass added: “Although he met the girl while she was in police custody, and there can be little doubt he knew her age and vulnerability, he exploited his position as a police officer to pursue her sexually.”