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Bianca Williams search: Deny gross misconduct at disciplinary hearing

4 days ago 47

Media caption,

Footage of the stop was shared widely on Twitter, after being posted by former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie

By Gabriele Shaw and Adina Campbell

BBC News

Five Metropolitan Police officers have denied gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing over the stop-and-search of athlete Bianca Williams.

The British sprinter and her partner Richard Dos Santos were stopped in their car in west London in July 2020.

They were handcuffed, searched for weapons and drugs and separated from their three-month-old son, but nothing was found and no arrests were made.

The pair have publicly accused the force of racism over the incident.

Acting Sgt Rachel Simpson and PCs Allan Casey, Jonathan Clapham, Michael Bond and Sam Franks all face allegations that they breached police standards over equality and diversity during the stop-and-search.

Appearing in person at the hearing in central London, they told the panel they believed their behaviour did not amount to gross misconduct.

Acting Sgt Simpson and PCs Clapham, Bond and Franks are accused of breaching standards over use of force and respect.

PCs Casey, Clapham, Bond and Franks also face allegations over the accuracy of their account of the stop.

The hearing is due to last until 27 October when an independent panel will determine whether to uphold the allegations.

Gross misconduct is the highest level of disciplinary charge a police officer can face.

If found guilty, a police officer could face disciplinary action including demotion, a written warning and ultimately dismissal from the force altogether.

Image source, EPA

Image caption,

Ms Williams and her partner were stopped in their car in west London in July 2020

Mr dos Santos claimed he was dragged out of his car by an officer with a raised baton, handcuffed, and told that the stop-and-search was being conducted because he smelt of cannabis.

Video footage of what happened was widely shared on social media.

The Met Police referred itself to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) after footage of the incident was posted online by the couple's trainer, former Olympic champion sprinter Linford Christie.

The then Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, claimed on LBC radio after the referral that "any officer worth their salt would have stopped that car" and that she did not "personally accept" the video footage "reveals racism".

Ms Williams since decried Dame Cressida's comments as "public efforts to discredit and undermine our complaints and to trivialise the experiences of black people in the UK and how we are policed".

Image source, EPA

Image caption,

Mr dos Santos claimed that he was dragged out of his car by an officer and handcuffed

The investigation experienced further public scrutiny after Trisha Napier, who investigated the involved officers, told the BBC in January that her work was "watered down".

She resigned in November 2020 and told the BBC that she was taking the watchdog to an employment tribunal. The IOPC denied her allegations.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid previously apologised for the "distress that this incident clearly caused Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos".

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