A police sergeant allegedly ridiculed a young gay recruit by saying he “screamed like a girl” when a venomous spider was thrown at him – as well as talking about the recruit’s “HIV diet” and calling another officer “the short lesbian”.
Aaron Prayter said he felt “angry and embarrassed” after Metropolitan Police sergeant Mark Goodenough accused him of screaming in a high pitched voice when the spider was flicked at him, according to the website Police Oracle.
The homophobia claims were made at a misconduct panel hearing, one of the first to be held in public since the rules were changed on 1 May to make the process more transparent. Sgt Goodenough, based at Waltham Forest in north-east London, denies the allegations.
PC Prayter, a former LGBT liaison officer, alleges the screaming remark was one of several made by the sergeant in 2013 and 2014. The hearing was told Sgt Goodenough, a former member of the Met’s Territorial Support Group, accepts he may have suggested PC Prayter had “screamed like a little girl” when the creature, a false widow spider , was flicked at him. Barrister Ben Summers, for Sgt Goodenough, suggested that if his client had used this phrase it would have been “as a description, without malice”. “It’s being used as a simile,” Mr Summers said.
PC Prayter said he believed it was said “in a way which was to try to bully me and humiliate me.” He said he had taken the remark as “an insinuation that he was camp.”
He and a second officer were responding to a call when the spider was seen and flicked at him. The panel heard PC Prayter freely described himself as “a screaming queen” but he denied having screamed at the spider. He insisted he merely moved out of the way when it was flicked at him.
The sergeant was also alleged to have said, “What a gay,” to describe one officer who hurt a finger on duty, and saying, “I don’t want another one of you lot,” after hearing a gay officer was due to join his team.
During a discussion about anal sex by PC Prayter’s colleagues, Sgt Goodenough is said to have remarked that PC Prayter was the “only one in the room who would appreciate” the conversation. In further remarks Sgt Goodenough is alleged to have spoken of a “little gay clique” in the team.
The sergeant is accused of describing one officer as “the short lesbian” and is said to have queried how another, who was fat, had managed to get a girlfriend. Another openly gay officer, PC Nikki Hardy, told the panel that Sgt Goodenough was an “intrusive” and proactive supervisor but that she did not believe he was homophobic. Any remarks about gay officers would have been “banter” she said. PC Hardy said she “didn’t feel aggrieved by him.”
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