Met officers who shared Harvey Price messages found guilty of gross misconduct

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Eight serving and former Metropolitan Police officers have been found guilty of gross misconduct over “discriminatory and offensive” messages they shared, including some which made fun of Katie Price’s disabled son.

The officers, seven men and one woman, were found to have sent sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic and disablist comments in a WhatsApp group called “Secret Squirrel Shit” between May 17, 2016 and June 26, 2018.

Legal chairman Christopher McKay described gross misconduct as a “breach of the standards of professional behaviour that is so serious as to justify dismissal”, during the fifth day of hearings at Palestra House in Southwark, central London, on Thursday.

He found each officer to have committed gross misconduct over their own messages, as well as by “failing to challenge or report” the conduct of others in the group.

Katie Price and son Harvey
Some of the messages targeted Katie Price’s disabled son Harvey (PA)

Their messages included derogatory comments about 20-year-old Mr Price, who suffers from Prader–Willi syndrome and autism, and about a junior female officer, known in the hearings as Officer A.

Mr McKay said Officer B, who can be named at the end of proceedings, posted an edited photograph of Mr Price in the chat with the caption: “You’ve heard of elf on a shelf, now get ready for Harvey Price eating Uncle Ben’s basmati rice after trying to read three blind mice on spice, saying ‘hello you c***.”

Mr McKay said: “The rhyme has a racist tone and refers to his disability – he is partially sighted.

“There is no need to refer to Uncle Ben’s rice unless pointing to the racial origins of Uncle Ben and Harvey Price being similar.

“The words ‘trying to read’ also highlight his disability.”

Social media stock
The officers shared offensive messages in a WhatsApp group (Nick Ansell/PA)

The panel found the most senior-ranking officer in the group, Mr Thomas, “appears to have been one of the most active participants” in the WhatsApp group.

Mr Thomas, who resigned in February, mocked Mr Price’s weight in some messages, called Officer A “f****** ugly”, and joked that he should name his dog “Auschwitz”, “Adolf” or “Fred” or “Ian” after “my two favourite child sex killers”.

Mr McKay said: “Given his supervisory role as a sergeant, he failed to adequately supervise or guide his team in respect of conduct.

“His failings are extremely serious.

“He could and should have closed the WhatsApp group as soon as the highly inappropriate nature of the messages became apparent.

“Instead he became one of its main contributors. This was undoubtedly gross misconduct.”

Mr Jenner, who is “believed to be living abroad and has not participated in any way in these proceedings”, contributed to the conversation citing concentration camps.

Social media abuse
The officers mocked Katie Price’s son Harvey (Nick Ansell/PA).

Mr Allen, who resigned in January and said he felt “ashamed” by his comments, posted a photograph of himself in the chat attempting to imitate Mr Price, with the caption: “Hello you c***”.

He also used inappropriate terms to describe mentally disabled people, made “offensive references to Germans and Nigerians”, and about “a victim of sexual assault”.

Ms Buchan, who resigned in March last year, called a colleague a “f****** rude little c***” who she described as “mugging me off in front of his mongy fanclub”.

Ms Buchan later “directly apologised” to Officer A for comments she had made about her, which her representative said “demonstrates not only remorse but insight into her behaviour”.

Mr Francisco, who was dismissed in July 2022, also made “offensive comments criticising Officer A’s appearance”.

The panel heard that Mr South, who was “one of the more active members” of the chat, said: “If any of this group got out my job would be f***** long ago.”

South also made several racist comments in the WhatsApp group, including referring to a black male as “it” and made a reference to “cotton picking” when talking about a black inspector.

Learning disability charity Mencap, where Mr Price is an ambassador, condemned the officers’ comments.

A spokesman for Mencap said: “It’s absolutely appalling that serving police officers have been found guilty of sharing abusive content about vulnerable people, the very same people they have a duty to protect.

“We stand alongside our ambassador Harvey and condemn their actions.”

The charity added that it hoped the disciplinary outcome would “serve as a warning to those who turn a blind eye, or worse partake in bullying”.

None of the officers attended the misconduct hearing on Thursday.

The outcome will be announced on Friday.

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