Robyn Williams sacked following conviction last year after her sister sent her a video
A decorated police chief convicted of possessing a video of child sexual abuse was found guilty of gross misconduct and sacked despite an extraordinary outpouring of support warning that her dismissal would damage the service’s reputation.
Metropolitan police Supt Robyn Williams was convicted last November after her sister sent her the video via WhatsApp, wanting those behind it hunted down and punished. Williams said she never watched the video. She was cleared of a charge of covering up knowledge of the video to protect her sister, who sent it to 16 other people. Only Williams was arrested despite others having it for longer or actually playing the clip.
On Friday Williams went before a Met special fast-track disciplinary hearing, which had the power to order her sacking. The hearing, before assistant commissioner Helen Ball, found that the conviction amounted to gross misconduct, enough to see her 36-year policing career end with instant dismissal.
Williams showed no reaction as Ball announced she should be dismissed without notice: “It is entirely unacceptable for police officers responsible for enforcing the law to break it themselves.”
Ball rejected claims that Williams had been treated differently because of her race, as claimed by the Metropolitan Black Police Association, and said: “I want to make clear that racial bias has played no part in my decision.”
Ball said Williams had been a role model, but the conviction showed fatal flaws in her judgment and truthfulness. Immediately afterwards Williams had to hand in her warrant card as her policing career ended.
Before reaching her decision, Ball heard a phalanx of pleas for leniency from police officers and community figures. Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, wrote that Williams’s work after the 2017 Grenfell disaster had been invaluable. Despite the criminal conviction, Hewitt wrote: “I believe she still has a contribution to make to policing.”
Yvette Williams from Justice for Grenfell, the community group fighting for victims of the fire, wrote: “Wherever Robyn Williams goes, confidence in policing increases.”
Despite the conviction for possessing the video, junior and senior colleagues wrote that they still trusted Williams and some feared that her sacking would damage the Met’s reputation and already fraught relationship with African-Caribbean communities.
The manager of the charity shop where Williams worked for free for 200 hours as part of her sentence revealed that having completed those hours, the officer had continued working at the shop twice a week as a volunteer.
Williams’s barrister, Gerard Boyle QC, said: “She poses no risk to anyone, let alone children or young people. The circumstances of this case are exceptional and unusual.”
Williams is appealing against her conviction by majority verdict in November 2019, and the court of appeal is yet to decide whether it will hear her case.
Williams, 54, was one of the most senior female African-Caribbean officers in Britain and a founder member of the National Black Police Association, and helped to set up a gay police association. She has campaigned for more women in policing and has been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal. The hearing was told that she had never taken a day off sick.
Williams remains on the sex offenders’ register following her conviction, despite the prosecution at her trial accepting she had no sexual interest in children and had never watched the video.
She had been on restricted duties after her conviction. Williams told the Old Bailey jury at her trial that she had never seen a video thumbnail image in WhatsApp on her phone, which the prosecution said she must have seen and which would have alerted her to the sexual abuse.
The hearing was told that while on restricted duties, Williams was part of the Met’s planning for coronavirus. She was also asked to lead an event for Met officers entitled “Leading through turbulent times”.
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31 Mar, 2020  0  Comments
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