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Schona Jolly wins detailed recommendations and substantial damages for PC Carol Howard against the Met

Schona Jolly wins detailed recommendations and substantial damages for PC Carol Howard against the Met

Cloisters’ Schona Jolly (instructed by Kiran Dauka of Slater & Gordon) represented P.C. Carol Howard in her remedies hearing against the Metropolitan Police in the Central London Tribunal. The remedies judgment, handed down today, is notable both for the amount of the compensation for hurt feelings and aggravated damages but also for the trenchant criticisms made of the Met’s conduct and for the Tribunal’s recommendations.

In its liability judgment in July 2014, the Tribunal found that Carol Howard had been discriminated against on the grounds of her race and sex as one of 12 women in the elite Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) of which only 2, including her, were black. She was also victimised following her complaints. The Tribunal found that Sgt Kelly, (then acting Inspector) bullied and harassed her and treated her less favourably than white, male colleagues both before and after her complaints. When she raised a grievance under the Fairness at Work policy, the draft report expressed the view that she had been discriminated against, only for the investigating officer to be “advised” to remove it as it was Met Policy not to include any references to discrimination in FAW reports. Sgt Kelly was never disciplined.

In its remedies judgment, the Tribunal awarded Carol Howard £25,000 compensation for hurt feelings and aggravated damages of £10,000. The latter reflected a number of serious factors, including (i) the failure to discipline the discriminators (ii) the failure to apologise after the liability judgment or to express any regret (iii) the issue of a press release (contrary to Met’s Media Policy) the day after the liability judgment which gave details of Carol Howard’s arrest and suspension on unrelated matters, which the Tribunal found to have been done to deflect criticism of the Met (iv) the actions of the Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe in his claim that Carol Howard’s treatment had been “just one incident”, thus ignoring the subsequent victimisation (v) the Met’s failure to disclose the draft FAW report until the first day of the Hearing. The Tribunal found this conduct to have been “insulting, malicious and oppressive”. The Tribunal added 5% to the compensation for the Met’s failure to follow ACAS Guidance as well as interest.

The Tribunal recommended that the Met should appoint an independent, legally qualified person within 3 months to conduct a review of

  1.                all FAW investigations and quality assurance reviews carried out since 2009 and of any changes or deletions to those investigations concerning references of discrimination with the Met to provide full and frank disclosure of all relevant documents;
  2.              the FAW policy itself. In the meantime, FAW investigators should be advised not to make any deletions regarding discrimination.

The Tribunal further recommended that the Met review its Equality & Diversity Policy and provide E&D training to Sgt Kelly and others and that Carol Howard and her solicitors should be kept fully informed about the new investigation and any disciplinary procedure against Sgt Kelly.

Daphne Romney QC of Cloisters Chambers commented

“This judgment is a devastating criticism of the Met. It neither apologised nor expressed regret for Carol’s treatment and the Commissioner publicly sought to diminish its importance. The day after the judgment, the Met breached its own Media policy and issued information about Carol’s arrests in what the Tribunal found to be an attempt to divert criticism of its own behaviour, causing her enormous distress and humiliation. It has only recently decided to hold an investigation into Sgt Kelly’s discriminatory conduct. It also failed to disclose the draft FAW report until the first day of the Hearing, which, as the Tribunal noted on the last occasion, could have resulted in neither it nor Carol knowing that the investigating officer had concluded that she has been discriminated against.

The Tribunal’s recommendations are very wide ranging. One hopes that the Met will learn from the exercise to be carried out which could result in previous claims for discrimination being re-opened if similar deletions were made to FAW investigations into other officers. Meanwhile given the Tribunal’s very clear findings in paragraphs 47 and 68 to the contrary, it is both surprising and regrettable that the Met’s apology this morning still maintains that its press release about Carol’s arrest was not issued so as to deflect criticism against it.  

Finally the judgment shows that the Tribunal procedure can play a really important role in enhancing internal procedures within an organisation by pointing out in detail what is wrong and what can be done to remedy deficits for the future”.

For press coverage of the case see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-29031611

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