The Metropolitan Police has a policy of “cover-up and containment” that punishes officers who complain of racism within its ranks, a former detective who won an employment tribunal against the force claims.
Kevin Maxwell, 35, who left the force last year after a bruising three-year legal battle, told MPs he was intimidated and victimised after revealing racist and homophobic behaviour before his personal information was leaked by police to the media.
Mr Maxwell, who is gay and of mixed race, said that senior officers failed to properly investigate his complaints about colleagues when he worked at Heathrow Airport as part of the counter-terrorist unit.
He believes that the force tried to discredit and intimidate him into silence, which resulted in his suffering from chronic depression.
An employment tribunal in 2012 found the Met responsible for 44 counts of harassment and discrimination against Mr Maxwell. Most of the findings were upheld on appeal.
Mr Maxwell yesterday delivered his documents about the case to the House of Commons. He claims the Met tried to destroy him and that his case showed that the force had failed to learn lessons in the 20 years since the failed investigation into the Stephen Lawrence killing and the subsequent damning conclusion by an independent inquiry that the force was “institutionally racist”.
“I should have been what they have been banging on about for the last 20 years,” Mr Maxwell told The Independent. “I am meant to be the future. I ticked all of those diversity boxes. Where did they go wrong? Is there still institutional racism and homophobia? Yes, without a doubt.”
He added in his submission that the “force’s culture of containment and covering-up moreover, punishes the victims and not perpetrators”.
He spares some of his most damning criticism over the leak of his personal information to The Sun, which never ran a story. Following a complaint by Mr Maxwell’s former partner to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Met carried out a leak inquiry that revealed last year that two payments had been made by the newspaper to journalists for information but a police report said there was “no indication” that money had gone to a public official. Mr Maxwell wrote to the Home Secretary Theresa May in October last year, but has yet to receive a reply.
In Mr Maxwell’s submission, he suggests that the leak about one of the Yard’s own officers suggests that “senior managers in the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) either approved this unauthorised (and possibly criminal) activity or have lost control of the officers under their command.”
Mr Maxwell, who had wanted to be a police officers since childhood, transferred to the Met from Greater Manchester Police in 2008. He claimed that for the following eight months, he was harassed over his race and sexual orientation. He says that he and another ethnic minority officer were used as “buffers” to search black and Asian passengers before they were handed to white colleagues. He was told that the theory was based on the idea that passengers were less likely to complain if they were stopped by black officers.
He says that fellow officers made disparaging remarks about gays, including a comment by one instructor about a man featured on training materials that he said was as “gay as a gay in a gay tea shop”. Mr Maxwell said he first complained in 2008, the year before the start of mental health problems which he said was as a result of the victimisation.
When he raised complaints about his treatment, they were first dismissed and then he was pressured into dropping the claims, he said.
He returned to work after his medical treatment but resigned in the face of further disputes with the force. However, even after receiving his P45 he was reinstated and sacked in December last year for discrediting the force and “undermining public confidence”. “The senior leadership know about me but don’t know what to do with me,” he said yesterday in advance of a further hearing into unfair dismissal.
After his departure from the force, he remains without work, living on £70-a-week benefit in a hostel and on medication.
“It’s not about me though all I have ever known is policing,” he said. “I want to raise awareness now for those who are still suffering.”