Bianca Williams: Mayor raises case with Met police as sprinter threatens to sue over traffic stop

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says footage should make police feel 'uncomfortable' 

Emily Goddard
Monday 06 July 2020 15:54
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Athlete Bianca Williams to sue Met because of 'racist' stop and search incident

Sadiq Khan has raised a case with the Metropolitan Police over the stop and search of British sprinter Bianca Williams.

The 26-year-old Commonwealth Games and European gold medallist and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, 25, a Portuguese sprinter, are already considering taking legal action against the police force after they were stopped in what they say was a racially motivated incident.

The couple were dragged from their car and handcuffed while their three-month-old son remained awake in his car seat in Maida Vale, west London, on Saturday.

Ms Williams told LBC radio she believes they were stopped because the car is all black and her partner is a black man. “There is no other reason,” she said.

The mayor of London said he takes “any allegation of racial profiling extremely seriously” and that is why he has raised Ms Williams’s case with the Met police.

“It is absolutely vital that our police service retains the trust and confidence of the communities it serves so that every Londoner, regardless of background or postcode can feel safe, protected and served,” Mr Khan wrote on Twitter.

”I am committed to closely scrutinising any disproportionality and that’s why I have asked the deputy mayor for policing and crime and deputy mayor for communities to work with police and communities to draw up an action plan for improving transparency and accountability.

“Stop and search must be intelligence-led, carried out fairly and with respect, and all officers now have body-worn video cameras to help hold them to account.”

Olympic gold medallist Linford Christie, who coaches Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos, accused the Met of “institutionalised racism”.

He called on Met chief Cressida Dick to explain “what justification the Met police officers had in assaulting the driver, taking a mother away from her baby, all without one piece of PPE and then calling the sniffer dog unit to check the car over”.

Ms Williams said she and her partner are “going to take the legal route”. When asked by LBC if they are seeking to sue the police, she replied: “Yes.”

Mr Dos Santos was reported to be meeting lawyers on Monday, according to The Times.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said he watched the video footage of the stop and search and felt “uncomfortable” about the officers’ conduct.

“When they got to the car I didn’t really think they handled it very well at all because it was clear there was a very young child in the back and the use of handcuffs is always controversial and I couldn’t see what the justification for that was,” he said on his monthly phone-in segment on LBC on Monday.

“I don’t know what led to the stop in the first place but what I do know is that if I was a senior officer looking at that video footage I would feel uncomfortable about the way that it was dealt with.”

Nothing was found in the car or on Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos and no arrests were made, the Met police said in a statement on Sunday.

The force also said it conducted a review of the stop and found there was no concern around the conduct of the officers who searched the athletes.

Helen Harper, the commander for the central west Basic Command Unit of the Metropolitan Police, said: “We are open to discussing the incident with the individuals involved if they wish to do so.”

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