Scotland Yard Found Guilty of Discriminating Against Kevin Maxwell, a Gay, Black Officer

Kevin Maxwell
Kevin Maxwell

From the Times London:

Scotland Yard was found guilty today (May 14) of discrimination, harassment and victimisation against a black, gay officer who was dismissed for “discrediting the police service”.

The overwhelming ruling by an Employment Appeal Tribunal in favour of Kevin Maxwell raises questions about the Metropolitan Police’s public commitment to stamp out racism in its ranks.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met commissioner, pledged last year to be the “implacable enemy” of racism after a series of allegations against his officers.

Mr Maxwell, 34, a former detective constable in the Met’s Counter-terrorism Command, has fought a three-year legal battle with the Met since lodging a complaint about his treatment.

Stationed at Heathrow airport he complained of homophobic remarks and said ethnic minority officers were used as a “buffer” to stop passengers who would then be passed to white officers to be searched.

He lodged an employment tribunal claim but details of it, and especially comments about his sexuality, were leaked to The Sun newspaper.

In February 2012 an employment tribunal ruled in Mr Maxwell’s favor and also criticised senior Met officers for not appearing to understand their own policies on supporting whistleblowers.  Against the advice of the tribunal, the Met launched an appeal against the ruling.

Mr Maxwell tried to return to work but was suffering from depression and took a long period of sick leave.  He resigned from the force and was issued with his P45 in September last year. But the Met claimed that his resignation had been mistakenly processed and began proceedings against him for gross misconduct.

The force convened a secret hearing and ruled that Mr Maxwell should be dismissed for “discrediting the police service and undermining public confidence in it”.

The leadership of the Met, which has clamped down on leaks and passing of “unauthorised information”, was infuriated that Mr Maxwell had written a blog describing his experiences of race and sex discrimination in the force.

The appeal tribunal ruled that the Met had committed 40 acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation against the former officer during 2009 and 2010.

The former officer is pursuing further discrimination proceedings over the issue of his dismissal hearing last year.  Courtney Barklem, Mr Maxwell’s lawyer from McCue & Partners, said his client had been forced out of a job that he loved.

Mr Barklem said: “Today’s judgment does not mean that the Met has acknowledged and addressed the discrimination and abuse Kevin suffered, and others suffer daily.

“If the Met is serious about tackling racism and bigotry within its organisation it needs to recognise the harm Kevin has suffered as well as immediately review an anti-racism policy that is patently not working.”

Mr Maxwell said there was that institutional racism and homophobia were still deep seated in the country’s biggest police force.

He added: “When those who have suffered such discrimination speak out, instead of being listened to, the Met bullies them into silence. If only the Met would hear today’s wake-up call and, rather than paying it lip-service, begin to take this matter seriously.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The Met is disappointed by the tribunal’s decision and will now take time to consider the detail of the judgment.”  A compensation settlement has not yet been agreed and the issue may yet lead to further legal proceedings.

article by Sean O’Neill via thetimes.co.uk

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