Met smeared me after I won discrimination case, firearms officer claims

Met revealed firearms officer had been arrested after she won case at employment tribunal

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The Independent Online

A black firearms officer accused the Metropolitan Police of smearing her as a criminal and “child predator” because she complained about her treatment.

Carol Howard told a hearing that the force had “deliberately and maliciously” revealed that she had been arrested three times in the months after she started employment proceedings against the force.

The 35-year-old was arrested for allegations including twice assaulting her estranged husband and possession of an indecent image after sending him a picture of their naked six-year-old daughter.

Details of the investigations against her were released by two police forces in the immediate aftermath of her race and sex tribunal victory when questions were raised about her continued suspension.

She won a case against the force for discrimination on the grounds of her race and sex after being singled out by a senior officer. It emerged yesterday that her suspension was lifted earlier this week after the two assault allegations against her were dropped. She remains on bail until next month over allegations of harassment, perverting the course of justice, witness intimidation and possession of an indecent image of a child. 

“I have been unfairly and unjustly smeared not only as a criminal but as a child predator because of misleading information deliberately and maliciously provided to the media by the police,” Ms Howard said in a statement to the tribunal yesterday. “My husband, my children and my extended family and I are horrified to see what the Metropolitan Police Service had released about me for the sole purpose to humiliate me and to cause me further distress.”

She claimed the police had sought to muddy her reputation to play down the impact of the tribunal’s judgment and force her to resign. “I believe this is a deliberate attempt by them to turn the negative attention on them on to me to sabotage any realistic attempt to return as a police officer.”

Her comments came during a two-day hearing to decide the level of costs that the force must pay to Ms Howard, a mother-of-two, following the tribunal hearing earlier this year. It has also agreed to bring in the conciliation service ACAS to review the way it conducts its internal complaints procedure after it was found to have deleted references to discrimination and harassment in an internal report.

Ms Howard, who passed her firearms training course in 2010, said she was chosen by the force as a poster girl for the Olympics with the Evening Standard to change the public image of “white police shooting black youth” among armed officers. During the time covered by her claim, Ms Howard was one of 12 female officers in the Diplomatic Protection Group, and only one other was black. The tribunal found she had been unfairly targeted by a senior officer, Acting Inspector Dave Kelly.

After her right to use her gun was removed, she said that she saw the newspaper feature defaced. Her commitment was questioned, every absence was assumed not to be genuine and her applications for promotion were not backed by senior officers, the tribunal heard.

Ms Howard, from Purley, Surrey, said that she was left “angry, confused and upset” after the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said her mistreatment was caused by only one officer. She said that senior officers had “closed ranks” and failed to take her claims seriously. The hearing continues.