One of the messages shared allegedly compared Meghan Markle to a golliwog. It also claimed that PC Sukhdev Jeer and PC Paul Hefford, along with former officer Richard Hammond, on top of sharing messages themselves, failed to challenge and/or report the other members of the group following the offensive messages. The allegations made against the officers amount to gross misconduct – a serious offence that will lead to the officers’ sacking if they are proven accurate.
Vishal Misra, for the Met Police, told the misconduct hearing in Fulham that PC Jeer contributed to the group the most, followed by PC Hefford and then former PC Hammond. The trio were all part of a unit at Bethnal Green Police Station and were members of a WhatsApp group called ‘But They Promised’ that was active between January and December 2018.
Describing the messages shared, Mr Misra said: “All of the content in the log is submitted to be explicitly racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist and Islamaphobic.”
One of the messages referenced in court was a racist joke about Meghan Markle. The message showed an image of a “golliwog” toy, with the caption: “A sneak preview at Meghan’s wedding dress”.
In the 19th-century book it originates from, a “golliwog” doll was described as “a horrid sight, the blackest gnome”, and its name has since been appropriated as a racist term for black people across USA, Europe and Australia.
PC Jeer said in response he did not find this funny even at the time. He said: “The fact that someone is out there can create this, that is not a nice thing to do but I posted this on the group not to laugh at it but [to show] that there are people out there who still do this and find it funny.”
He added: “All of the respondents failed to challenge one another with regards to the content being posted.”
The tribunal also heard that PC Jeer posted an image of a young boy in a hoodie, captioned as a “monkey in the jungle”, and superimposed with an image of a penis. PC Hefford allegedly superimposed the same image with a disabled person.
Another meme was put to PC Hefford which showed “two black men lying next to two white women”.
It was captioned: “Girls’ trip to Jamaica. One came back pregnant, the other came back with syphilis. (Just kidding, they’re both still missing.)”
Questioned on why that was funny, he replied: “In general, Jamaica is known to not be a safe place to go out on your own.
“There is a quite big gang community there and they do kidnap people. So it’s just a play on words. Just a silly meme.”
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Asked whether he thought the meme was inappropriate PC Hefford said it could be “considered” so. He added: “If you are going to take the racial sort of side of it it’s inappropriate from that point of view.
“It’s perception isn’t it? People’s perception of different things.”
The final meme that PC Hefford was confronted with was one which read: “Everyone is so politically correct these days. You can’t even say, ’Black paint,’ you have to say, “Tyrone can you please paint that wall?”
The officer responded in the hearing: “It’s having a go at political correctness, isn’t it? People say political correctness has gone mad and it’s a play on that.”
He then highlighted “acceptable humour” as one of the biggest societal changes between 2018 and today, citing the lines and scenes of Only Fools and Horses and Faulty Towers that have had to be taken out.
The tribunal continues.