Newham police officers found not guilty of racism

16:42 29 November 2012

PC Kevin Hughes, 42, from Brentwood, was found not guilty of making racist comments. Picture: PA Wire/Press Association Images

PC Kevin Hughes, 42, from Brentwood, was found not guilty of making racist comments. Picture: PA Wire/Press Association Images

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Metropolitan Police officer who admitted comparing a black man to a monkey while out on patrol in Newham has been cleared of racially aggravated harassment.

PC Kevin Hughes, 36, of Brentwood, Essex was also found not guilty today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court of using threatening words or behaviour to cause alarm and distress,

His colleague, PC David Hair, 42, of Epping, was also cleared of both charges following a three-day trial.

The court heard PC Hughes say he made the comments on February 22 because he saw a black man with “elongated arms” and a “gait” like a monkey while out on patrol with three colleagues in Green Street.

But the officer, of Brentwood, Essex, said it was “upsetting” that anyone would think he was racist.

The man was black but Hughes said he only had a “fleeting glance” at him. But he admitted saying he used the word “chimpanzee” to describe him.

PC Hair, 42, was accused of allegedly telling, on March 13, a female black colleague, PC Julia Dacres, he thought she was going to “rant” about overtime and not do any because she was “going home to cook bananas”.

Senior District Judge Howard Riddle said: “Whatever precisely PC Hughes said, it was unacceptable and offensive.”

He said that “in these circumstances it did not amount to a criminal offence”.

Noting that “context is central”, Mr Riddle pointed out there had been no aggression or threat.

He said: “Freedom of speech is a cherished principle. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to be offensive.

“It is, of course, restrained in a number of ways - employers can require employees to avoid offensive language or lose their jobs. The civil courts can provide redress for harm caused.

“But when the state tells people what they can or cannot say, on pain of criminal sanction, the position is different. Citizens expect strong justification for curtailing freedom of expression. Offensiveness is not enough.”

Latest Stories

18:17
A whopping £25million worth of cocaine was hidden in plastic bananas, among real fruit (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)

A massive haul of cocaine, thought to be worth £25million, was found by Met police officers hidden in plastic bananas shipped over from Columbia.

Read more
The orginal tweets in which @MPSinthesky made their reply to @anyabokepublic [Image from Twitter]

A Twitter user has accused the Met Police of encouraging their 91,000 Twitter followers to bully her.

Read more
The Job Centre at 120-122 Deptford High Street in its original incarnation in 2008. Although the pub keeps the name, it has not kept the distinctive green and yellow sign [Photo from Google StreetView]

Campaigners have criticised a ‘poor taste’ pub that has opened in a disused Job Centre on Deptford High Street – and kept the name.

Read more

Quirky London

Quizzes

Take our quiz and see how much you know about the Wimbledon Tennis Championships (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Do you know SW19 like the back of your hand? From Henman Hill to Centre Court, Fred Perry to Andy Murray? Well then you should ace our Wimbledon quiz:

Read more
Croatia's Daniel Prajnic, France's Paul Pogba and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo... three hair-raising World Cup stars (Picture: Archant/Getty)

The World Cup is a showcase of fantastic football... and terrible hairstyles. Try this quiz and test your knowledge of the wackiest barnets in Brazil.

Read more
World Cup countries quiz

It's about time you refreshed your brains about the countries competing in Brazil.

Read more
How much do you know about films in London? (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Do you know your Lock Stock from your Long Good Friday, Sliding Doors from Shakespeare in Love?

Read more
Instead of actually going to a park, take our quiz about them... (Picture: Warrick Page/Getty Images)

Think-Kew have got what it takes?

Read more