‘I was the prey’: Woman subjected to ‘relentless grooming’ by Met police officer

Exclusive: ‘I was the prey of a predator and I can assure you the impact was immeasurable,’ says victim

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
Tuesday 24 May 2022 19:14 BST
Ms Y says PC Phil Hunter would call her from his bed at night to make sexual comments and ask her out on dates
Ms Y says PC Phil Hunter would call her from his bed at night to make sexual comments and ask her out on dates (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A woman says a serving Metropolitan Police officer sent her sexual messages while subjecting her to a “relentless campaign” of grooming after being called to her home for a welfare check

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Ms Y, who can not be identified, said PC Phil Hunter would call her from his bed at night to make sexual comments and ask her out on dates.

The accusations only came to light after Mr Hunter, a Metropolitan Police officer, was investigated in a case of gross misconduct for having a sexual relationship with a different woman. Mr Hunter had been sent to the woman’s home after her brother killed himself.

Ms Y, said her ordeal began in August 2017 when Mr Hunter came to her home to carry out a welfare check after she reported her ex-partner to police for stalking and domestic abuse.

“He was really nice to me,” Ms Y added. “He said ‘I get it, I understand what you are going through’. He gave me his telephone number. He said ‘this is my personal number’. He said ‘we are going to be friends and I am going to look after you’ and he gave me a big hug. I thought he was a nice man. I was beyond vulnerable.”

She said Mr Hunter told her she should not have contact with family or friends over the next three months - insisting he was the only person she could rely on, even telling her not to contact other police officers.

Ms Y said it later transpired Mr Hunter never logged any of the information she gave him about her domestic abuse case.

Ms Y added: “He said to me that he could arrange for police officers to go round and give him a hard time. A sexual relationship with me was Mr Hunter’s goal.”

She said Mr Hunter then abruptly disappeared at the end of November 2017 and stopped contacting her. Later, in February 2018, professional standards, the department that investigates police officers and staff accused of misconduct, contacted her about another alleged victim of Mr Hunter’s and asked her to give a statement about him.

“I defended him,” Ms Y said. “I was convinced he was lovely. The police downplayed the case hugely. They said they would extradite my own case if I defended him. I gave a statement supporting him.”

In August 2019, Mr Hunter started contacting her again, at which point she said it was clear he knew “everything” about her.

She said: “He knew where my family lived. He could quote off addresses. Also of friend's places. It is unclear whether he got it from speaking to colleagues who were dealing with my case or from police computer systems.”

Ms Y reported him to the Metropolitan Police but claims they failed to deal with her complaint properly - adding that she reported him 32 times over a year before they assigned someone to look into the case.

She said she later found out Mr Hunter’s alleged first victim had tried to kill herself “because of Hunter’s coercive control”.

Ms Y added: “She is still alive. He was contacting her saying exactly the same things to me at the same time. He disappeared out of my life when he started being investigated for his relationship with the other woman.

“I have nothing but support for the Met but the Met doesn’t want to admit how bad the issue is with predatory police officers.

She has since received an apology from the police for how her case was handled. But she wants Commander Catherine Roper, the first officer she reported Mr Hunter’s behaviour to in 2019, to say sorry to her personally.

Text messages Mr Hunter sent to Ms Y, seen by The Independent, say: “You are a beautiful person” and “You can be as naughty as you like with me”.

Mr Hunter retired from the Met Police in July 2019 while he was being investigated for gross misconduct and became a licensed black cab driver. He has since had his driving licence revoked.

In 2020, Mr Hunter was found guilty of gross misconduct for having a sexual relationship with the suicidal woman professional standards contacted Ms Y about.

Ms Y said her allegations against him were not given to the team investigating him over his relationship with the suicidal woman until after the misconduct hearing. The character witness statement she made when she still considered him to be a good man was used at the tribunal as part of his defence case despite her spending nine months trying to revoke the statement.

The account comes after a string of criticism of Met Police for its handling of the murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021 by serving officer Wayne Couzens and other recent scandals involving officers.

Commenting on Mr Hunter’s gross misconduct ruling, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid, from the Met's Directorate of Professionalism, said: “There is no place for this kind of behaviour in the Met and it is right that the officer involved would have been dismissed, if he had not already resigned.”

He added: “During the investigation of the complaint made by the individual [Ms Y] about the misconduct process we identified that the method of communication with the individual was not properly routed, and this caused delays in information being passed. We rectified this, and did not identify any misconduct from any officers or staff.”

Mr Javid noted the Independent Office for Police Conduct reviewed this and “agreed with our findings”.

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