Serving Met Police officer charged over ‘racist’ WhatsApp messages

Exclusive: PC Thomas Phillips has been suspended with full pay

Nadine White
Race Correspondent
Thursday 15 September 2022 16:30 BST
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The Met was placed under special measures in June after a series of failures
The Met was placed under special measures in June after a series of failures (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A serving Metropolitan Police officer has been charged with sending racist WhatsApp messages.

PC Thomas Phillips, who is based in the force’s intelligence branch, faces five counts of sending offensive messages, in breach of the Communications Act 2003.

He is due to appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on 24 January 2023 and has been suspended by the force on full pay since December 2021.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed to The Independent that the charges related to alleged racially offensive messages.

Mr Phillips, of Croydon, has pleaded not guilty to all charges and was given bail, the CPS confirmed.

The Met Police said the charges related to an alleged incident that took place while he was off-duty.

The case comes after the Met, which is the UK’s largest police force, was placed under special measures in June after a series of failures.

Former PC Joel Borders, 45, is on trial at Westminster magistrates’ court along with serving Metropolitan Police constables Jonathon Cobban, 35, and William Neville, 34, for allegedly sending offensive and discriminatory messages in a WhatsApp group.

In July, two Met Police officers, in an unrelated case, were sacked after posting offensive messages in a group chat, including a racist joke about Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

PC Sukhdev Jeer and PC Paul Hefford, who worked in a unit at Bethnal Green police station in east London, posted “inappropriate, highly offensive and discriminatory” content on WhatsApp in 2018.

In June, James Watts, a former West Mercia Police constable who posted racist WhatsApp memes mocking George Floyd’s murder, was jailed for 20 weeks.

Former Met constables Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis were jailed for two years and nine months each last year for taking selfies with the bodies of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and sharing them with friends and colleagues on WhatsApp.

A senior Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) official previously told The Independent in relation to other cases that some officers were making “risky assumptions” that unacceptable posts were safe inside private WhatsApp chats.

“That isn’t letting off steam or ‘banter’, it’s deeply offensive and undermining to public confidence and trust,” Claire Bassett, the IOPC’s deputy director general, said.

“Being a police officer is a really difficult job and we need to make sure they are fully supported, but misogyny and homophobia doesn’t do that … some of the stuff we’re talking about here is criminal.”

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