Police Constable (PC) Sukhdev Jeer and PC Paul Hefford, both attached to Forensic Services in the Metropolitan Police, faced a misconduct hearing which concluded this week that allegations against them of exchanging vile messages was proven.
The tribunal heard details of several racist posts, including reportedly one containing a racist slur about Markle, shortly before her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018.
“These vile messages were shared in 2018 within a closed WhatsApp group between a small group of officers. I hardly need to say it is completely unacceptable for anyone, let alone a police officer, to behave in such a manner. The actions of these three are inexcusable,” said Commander Jon Savell, Professional Standards.
“The whole of the Met is focused on rooting out anyone who displays this type of behaviour and lets down the Met and the public we serve. Behaviour like this will absolutely not be tolerated and we are driving that message home to our officers and staff at every opportunity,” he said.
The officers faced an allegation at the level of gross misconduct that between December 2017 and December 2018, while working at Central East Command Unit, they were part of a WhatsApp group on their private phones.
They used the group to exchange messages, memes and other content which was inappropriate, highly offensive and discriminatory. The content was discriminatory on the grounds of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation and disability.
“This repulsive behaviour understandably damages that trust and I want to apologise to every single member of the public we serve in this area,” said Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett, who leads the Central East division of the Met Police.
“These officers have, rightly, been sacked. I do not want any officer who would engage in this sort of behaviour anywhere near your community. I will be personally emailing everyone who works at Central East to reinforce the message that words matter, respect matters, and every time someone sends this sort of message they cause real hurt,” he said.
PCs Jeer and Hefford will now be added to the Barred List held by the College of Policing.
Those appearing on the list cannot be employed by police, local policing bodies (PCCs), the Independent Office for Police Conduct or Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.
The officers also faced an allegation at the level of misconduct that they each failed to challenge or report the other members of the group for their behaviour.
The messages came to light when another former officer, Richard Hammond’s phone was examined as part of an unrelated criminal investigation. He was dismissed without notice in October 2021 following his conviction for perverting the course of justice.
The Met Police said it was “working hard to rebuild trust in the country’s largest police force and recognise we have a lot to do.”
Every Met employee has been spoken to about responsible use of social media, absolute adherence to professional boundaries and actively intervening and challenging wrongdoing.