Police officer mocked Jewish colleague by dangling pepperoni pizza over her food, disciplinary hearing told

Sussex Police Sergeant Gary Jacobs faces allegations of gross misconduct for contaminating Jewish colleague's kosher meal

Kate Ng
Tuesday 19 November 2019 16:40
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A Jewish police officer has told a disciplinary hearing that she felt “mocked for her faith” after a sergeant deliberately dangled a slice of pepperoni pizza over her kosher food.

The incident, which took place in March this year in Crawley, West Sussex, resulted in a piece of pepperoni falling onto the female officer’s kosher meal, rendering it inedible for her. The consumption of pork is prohibited under Jewish law.

Sergeant Gary Jacobs appeared before a disciplinary panel at Sussex police headquarters in Lewes on Tuesday and has admitted misconduct over the incident but denies that his actions amount to gross misconduct.

The officers had been relaxing with other colleagues before a shift when the incident occurred. The female officer, referred to only as Pc A, had ordered a pizza that was in line with her religious and dietary requirements.

The hearing was told that another officer suggested that her leftovers be kept separate from the rest of the team’s to avoid contamination.

It was then that Sgt Jacobs picked up a piece of pepperoni pizza and dangled it over Pc A’s kosher pizza, and a piece of pepperoni fell on her food.

Pc A did not feel able to call Sgt Jacobs out on his actions at the time. Amy Clarke, who brought the allegation on behalf of the police force, said Pc A felt “embarrassed, isolated, and as if she was being mocked for her faith”.

Clarke told the panel: “Sgt Jacobs knew that she was Jewish and knew that she maintained a kosher diet and we say any modicum of common sense ought to dictate that that means that you should not dangle pork over her food.

“It appears that Sgt Jacobs has prioritised making a joke, as he describes it, over showing an officer, another individual, respect for their faith which is clearly important to them.”

Representing Sgt Jacobs was Colin Banham, who said the sergeant did not have any intention to contaminate his colleague’s food, and that he “bitterly regrets” and is “clearly remorseful” about the incident.

The incident occurred in a “jocular atmosphere”, argued Mr Banham, and was not pre-meditated.

Sussex Police posted a notice about the hearing on their website, saying Sgt Jacobs will face allegations that his conduct breaches “Standards of Professional Behaviour in respect of Equality and Diversity”.

The hearing continues.

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