Cloisters’ Schona Jolly represented firearms officer PC Carol Howard who has won her claim for direct discrimination on grounds of race and sex, as well as victimisation, against the Commissioner of the Police for the Metropolis.
The judgment includes significant findings on the Met Police’s policy to prevent findings of discrimination being made, or disclosed in respect of the grievance process. The Tribunal found that the investigating officer had concluded that PC Howard had been subjected to both race and sex discrimination, but that she had been asked to delete all references to those findings within the report that was presented both to PC Howard and to the Tribunal.
Daphne Romney QC, of Cloisters, says of the judgment:
“This judgment is a damning indictment on the Met, a number of its senior officers and its failure to address pervasive discrimination within its ranks. What is particularly shocking is the deliberate attempt to cover up internal findings of discrimination. The outcome of the internal grievance investigation led PC Howard to believe that the investigating officer did not accept that there had been either race or sex discrimination, when clearly this was not the case. The Met’s evidence to the Employment Tribunal was that it has a policy of deleting any finding of discrimination from grievance investigations. This is what happened to PC Howard and it is wholly unacceptable. There needs to be wholesale change in the Met’s approach to discrimination in order to ensure that London’s Police Force treats all its employees equally regardless of any protected characteristic”
PC Howard remains a serving police officer and has been employed by the Metropolitan Police for ten years. She was the only black female officer in the unit managed by a white, male Acting Inspector whom the Tribunal found had “singled out and targeted” her for almost a whole year. The Tribunal found that he had “personal hostility or antipathy” towards her. It concluded that there had been a “course of conduct” by an Acting Inspector that was” designed to, and which in fact did undermine, discredit and belittle her”. It found that her Sergeants had been instructed by him to investigate conduct issues on “spurious grounds”, that her application for advancement had been blocked by him (supported by his Chief Supt) and that the senior officer always assumed the worst about PC Howard, without having any credible basis or explanation for doing so.
The Tribunal concluded that it had been “driven to the conclusion that the negative perception must have been based on what he saw – a black woman”.
The Tribunal found that the grievance investigating officer had been asked to delete all references to discrimination and harassment related to sex and/or to race from her report. It concluded that “the impression conveyed by the report that was ultimately provided to the Claimant was that [the investigating officer] had not accepted that the Claimant had been subjected to any sex or race discrimination. That is what the Claimant believed and that is what the Tribunal would have believed if the Claimant had not insisted on the disclosure of the draft report.” The Tribunal recorded that it was “very concerned that the Respondent’s policy of not allowing Fairness at Work Advisors to make assessments of discrimination and of instructing to delete them when they do so might mislead complainants and tribunals into believing that the [investigating officer] has not found any discrimination when in fact he or she has done so.”
It concluded that PC Howard’s “race and gender both contributed to and significantly influenced” the Acting Inspector’s treatment of her, “and that she was treated the way that she was because she was black and because she was a woman”.
PC Howard's legal team will now be seeking strong recommendations that will require the Metropolitan Police to review and re-consider the way in which discrimination allegations are treated, investigated and dealt with by the organisation.
Schona Jolly is instructed by Slater & Gordon.